Stories Out of Cherry Stems

Peter Dayton composer
Katie Procell soprano

Release Date: May 13, 2022
Catalog #: NV6424
Format: Digital
21st Century
Chamber
Vocal Music
Cello
Saxophone
Voice

Composer Peter Dayton and Navona Records present STORIES OUT OF CHERRY STEMS, an album of original vocal chamber music with carefully curated texts spanning multiple centuries. Soprano Katie Procell and numerous selected performers navigate a persistent tension between simplicity and complexity delicately threaded throughout the program, providing a solid stage for the texts of notable poets Pablo Neruda, Oscar Wilde, and more. The strengths of vocal and instrumental chamber music merge into a cohesive powerhouse in this recording, brimming with sung stories that compliment Dayton’s compositional style.

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Track Listing & Credits

# Title Composer Performer
01 Entwine Our Tongues: Sapphic Fragments I. Fragment 32 (“You ask me why…”) Peter Dayton Katie Procell, soprano; Andrea Morris, oboe; Garrett Hale, oboe & English horn; Brian Tracey, clarinet; Jennifer Hughson, clarinet & bass clarinet 1:44
02 Entwine Our Tongues: Sapphic Fragments II. Fragment 27 (“I would not ask the muse…”) Peter Dayton Katie Procell, soprano; Andrea Morris, oboe; Garrett Hale, oboe & English horn; Brian Tracey, clarinet; Jennifer Hughson, clarinet & bass clarinet 2:05
03 Entwine Our Tongues: Sapphic Fragments III. Fragment 51 (“Should I get the girl I want…”) Peter Dayton Katie Procell, soprano; Andrea Morris, oboe; Garrett Hale, oboe & English horn; Brian Tracey, clarinet; Jennifer Hughson, clarinet & bass clarinet 3:36
04 Entwine Our Tongues: Sapphic Fragments IV. Fragment 169 (“I might lead you astray…”) Peter Dayton Katie Procell, soprano; Andrea Morris, oboe; Garrett Hale, oboe & English horn; Brian Tracey, clarinet; Jennifer Hughson, clarinet & bass clarinet 1:21
05 Entwine Our Tongues: Sapphic Fragments V. Fragment 96 (“I shall enter desire desiring…”) - VI. Fragment 149 (“Let me curl at your feet…”) Peter Dayton Katie Procell, soprano; Andrea Morris, oboe; Garrett Hale, oboe & English horn; Brian Tracey, clarinet; Jennifer Hughson, clarinet & bass clarinet 5:48
06 Si Solamente: I. A todos, a vosotros… Peter Dayton Katie Procell, soprano; Lavena Johanson, violoncello 7:13
07 Si Solamente: II. Barcarola Peter Dayton Katie Procell, soprano; Lavena Johanson, violoncello 10:47
08 Si Solamente: III. Me gustas cuando callas Peter Dayton Katie Procell, soprano; Lavena Johanson, violoncello 6:27
09 Lost Daughter: Songs on the Myth of Persephone I. Requiescat Peter Dayton Katie Procell, soprano; Amanda Dame, flute; Eric D’Alessandro, viola; Erin Baker, harp 6:09
10 Lost Daughter: Songs on the Myth of Persephone II. Persephone, Falling Peter Dayton Katie Procell, soprano; Amanda Dame, flute; Eric D’Alessandro, viola; Erin Baker, harp 4:22
11 Lost Daughter: Songs on the Myth of Persephone III. Prayer to Persephone Peter Dayton Katie Procell, soprano; Amanda Dame, flute; Eric D’Alessandro, viola; Erin Baker, harp 5:04
12 Lost Daughter: Songs on the Myth of Persephone IV. Demeter & Peter Dayton Katie Procell, soprano; Amanda Dame, flute; Eric D’Alessandro, viola; Erin Baker, harp 5:33
13 Lost Daughter: Songs on the Myth of Persephone V. Persephone, the Wanderer Peter Dayton Katie Procell, soprano; Amanda Dame, flute; Eric D’Alessandro, viola; Erin Baker, harp 8:12
14 Desiderata: Ten Pieces of Wisdom I. Go placidly amid the noise and haste… Peter Dayton Katie Procell, soprano; Kyle Blake Jones, alto saxophone 1:24
15 Desiderata: Ten Pieces of Wisdom II. Speak your truth quietly and clearly… Peter Dayton Katie Procell, soprano; Kyle Blake Jones, alto saxophone 0:42
16 Desiderata: Ten Pieces of Wisdom III. Avoid loud and aggressive persons… Peter Dayton Katie Procell, soprano; Kyle Blake Jones, alto saxophone 0:54
17 Desiderata: Ten Pieces of Wisdom IV. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans… Peter Dayton Katie Procell, soprano; Kyle Blake Jones, alto saxophone 0:52
18 Desiderata: Ten Pieces of Wisdom V. Exercise caution in your business affairs… Peter Dayton Katie Procell, soprano; Kyle Blake Jones, alto saxophone 1:16
19 Desiderata: Ten Pieces of Wisdom VI. Be yourself… Peter Dayton Katie Procell, soprano; Kyle Blake Jones, alto saxophone 1:17
20 Desiderata: Ten Pieces of Wisdom VII. Take kindly the counsel of the years… Peter Dayton Katie Procell, soprano; Kyle Blake Jones, alto saxophone 0:49
21 Desiderata: Ten Pieces of Wisdom VIII. Nurture strength to shield you… Peter Dayton Katie Procell, soprano; Kyle Blake Jones, alto saxophone 0:56
22 Desiderata: Ten Pieces of Wisdom IX. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle… – X. And whether or not it is clear to you… Peter Dayton Katie Procell, soprano; Kyle Blake Jones, alto saxophone 3:26

Recorded July 16, 19, August 21, 2021 in Baltimore MD
Session Engineer Robert Armstrong
Session Engineer Lara Mitofsky Neuss (Tracks 6-8)
Session Producer Christian Amonson
Editing Andrew Funcheon

Entwine Our Tongues: Sapphic Fragments
Text by Jordi Alonso, after Sappho, from Honeyvoiced.
Used with permission of the author and the publisher, XOXOX Press of Gambier, Ohio.

Si Solamente
Texts: Permission granted by Fundación Pablo Neruda, represented by the Sociedad Chilena de Autores e Intérpretes Musicales (SCD). All Rights Reserved. “El Fugitivo XII” originally included in “Canto General” (1950) “Barcarola” originally included in “Residencia en el Tierra, II” (1931), “Me gustas cuando callas” originally included in “Viente poemas de amor
y una canción desesperada” (1924)

Lost Daughter: Songs on the Myth of Persephone
Requiescat from “Poems”(1881) by Oscar Wilde. Persephone, Falling from “Mother Love,” W.W.Norton, New York, © 1995 by Rita Dove. Used by Permission of the Author. Hymn to Persephone from “Second April” (1921) by Edna St. Vincent Millay. Demeter and Persephone from “Demeter, and Other Poems” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1889). “Persephone, the Wanderer” by Louise Glück. © 2006 by Louise Glück, used by permission of The Wylie Agency LLC.

Desiderata: Ten Pieces of Wisdom
Text by Max Ehrmann

Illustrations by Douglas Johnson

Executive Producer Bob Lord

Executive A&R Sam Renshaw
A&R Director Brandon MacNeil
A&R Chris Robinson

VP of Production Jan Košulič
Audio Director Lucas Paquette
Mastering Melanie Montgomery

VP, Design & Marketing Brett Picknell
Art Director Ryan Harrison
Design Edward A. Fleming, Morgan Hauber
Publicity Patrick Niland, Aidan Curran
Content Manager Sara Warner

Artist Information

Peter Dayton

Peter Dayton

Composer

Described by American Record Guide as “...a composer whose heart and care are palpable... who has a voice that deserves to be heard often” and by the Baltimore Sun as having “a refined sense of melodic arcs and harmonic motion,” Peter Dayton’s compositions have been performed across North America and in Europe.

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Katie Procell

Katie Procell

Soprano

Katie Procell has been praised throughout the Baltimore area as a “phenomenon with beautiful tone” (Johnathan Newmark). Her musical curiosity includes the avant-garde. Past opera credits include various roles in Elevator (ENAEnsemble); Lisa (La Sonnambula; Opera Alchemy); Susanna (Le nozze di Figaro; Peabody Conservatory & Peach State Opera understudy); Krysia (understudy, Out of Darkness; Baltimore Theatre Project); Rosina (Il barbiere di Siviglia; James Madison University); Valencienne (The Merry Widow; JMU); Phyllis (Iolanthe; Luray Opera Theater); Patience (Patience; JMU); and Despina (Così fan tutte; Luray). Represented by Spotlight Artists Management, she is a resident artist with Sparrow Live. For more information visit katieprocell.weebly.com.

Notes

For an album in which the sung texts alone would constitute a small book of poetry, the room for descriptions that would do justice to the pieces, the poems, and the album’s dedicated players would not fit in this promotional album booklet. For expert liner notes by composer Stuart Wheeler as well as player biographical profiles, texts of the sung poetry featured on the album, and stunning ink drawings that chronicle the rehearsal and recording process by my husband, artist Douglas Johnson, go to peterdaytonmusic.com/cherrystems.

In the cautiously optimistic summer of 2021, I gathered 24 brilliant musicians to record the entirety of my catalogue of songs since 2015. From this overabundance come four pieces that celebrate and spotlight Katie Procell’s incredible talents. This and another, forthcoming album of my vocal work represent a private summer songfest’s worth of music, recorded and brought to a wider world from four mammoth sessions.

I am so grateful to Roland Park Community Center and Jason Buckwalter for hosting the extensive number of rehearsals as well as the recording sessions themselves; to the sound team at Arts Laureate for their expertise and perseverance in this massive undertaking; to my husband Douglas Johnson for his endless love; and I am most grateful to my parents Peter and Lisa Dayton, without whom none of this would be possible, and, to the performers! Katie, Amanda, Andrea, Brian, Eric, Erin, Garrett, Jennifer, Kyle, and Lavena, bravissimo!

— Peter Dayton

As meticulous as Peter Dayton is in his music, he gives equal attention to words. As he tells it, it is through poetry that he first began exploring ideas of structure in art, long before turning to music. Each of the four sets of songs on STORIES OUT OF CHERRY STEMS deal with different texts in inventive, often surprising ways. All of them feature the talents of soprano Katie Procell, who brings an expressive and singular performance to each piece. There is a natural, effortless quality to the vocal lines, which is as much a credit to Dayton’s compositions as to Procell’s interpretations. None of this musical material is simple, yet every line spills from the tongue as if it could not have been uttered in any other way.

The conviction of these performances is evidence of the close working relationship between the composer and singer, who met in 2018 when Dayton attended a concert Procell was giving of Olivier Messiaen’s Harawi (1945). Stunned by her performance, Dayton introduced himself and suggested working together on a future concert. Numerous collaborations quickly blossomed between the singer and composer, including the two pieces which bookend this album: Entwine Our Tongues: Sapphic Fragments (2019) and Desiderata: Ten Pieces of Wisdom (2020).

In Entwine Our Tongues, Procell sings with four reed instruments: two oboes and two clarinets (with doubles on English horn and bass clarinet). The texts come from Jordi Alonso’s Honeyvoiced (2014), a book of poems based on the writings of Sappho. The song cycle opens with a flurry of activity in the instruments and an immediate bold entrance from Procell. Dense, shimmering harmonies vanish as quickly as they arrive, while Procell’s grounding melody holds everything together. A truly standout moment of this piece is the penultimate movement, in which Procell is left unaccompanied to maneuver through complexly sensuous lines set to a text describing the hope that her desires might coincide with another’s. The absence of the ensemble here is as palpable as is Procell’s total self-sufficiency in her a capella performance. The moment her solo ends, the reeds re-enter, launching the listener into the final, gently rocking movement.

The other ensemble piece of this album is Lost Daughter: Songs on the Myth of Persephone (2020/2021), for soprano, flute, viola, and harp. Dayton selected each text of this cycle from a different source and time period, exploring various aspects of motherhood and grief. The piece begins plaintively; the three instruments seem at times to be a one instrument-assemblage: a strange and subtle organ. Procell’s dramatic and technical facility is on full display. She floats delicately over the top of the instruments, suddenly shifting her weight into heavier lines. Gentle gliding tones burst into nimble chromatic runs and wide leaps, then settle back into steady low incantations, barely above a whisper. Contrasting the first four movements, Dayton casts the fifth almost entirely as a spoken narration of Louise Glück’s Persephone, the Wanderer (2006), while the three instruments weave around each other in careful heterophony. Procell is equally expressive in her dramatic reading as in her singing, bringing out all the wit and insight of Glück’s modern commentary on the ancient myth.

The remaining pieces are duets between Procell and a single instrument. Si Solamente (2017), for soprano and cello, sets three poems by Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. Each deals in its own way with intimacy, with presence and absence. In three long movements, this piece is a haunting tour de force for both singer and cellist. There are two striking moments of athletic vocalization from Procell in the second movement. In the third movement, the singer muses on a paradoxical desire for a lover’s silence in order to more fully feel their presence through the possibility of that silence being broken. Dayton avoids any obvious renderings of silence in this movement. His use of a simple vocal melody anchors the poem’s strophic form, while the cello moves through variations on a two-note repeating phrase, constantly reinventing itself but retaining its essential identity.

Desiderata, for soprano and saxophone, opens by invoking a similar theme, as Procell reminds the listener to “remember what peace there may be in silence.” The performance of this piece’s ten aphorisms — each punctuated by its own brief silence — matches the sincerity and humility of the text. Every one of these miniatures is as complete a composition as any of the longer movements on this album. Within them is found the same commitment to melody and line, the same careful attention to detail that characterizes Dayton’s style. There is a persistent tension between simplicity and complexity delicately threaded through all these songs: twisted stems of cherries from which stories are spun. Each story is given a charismatic life by Procell and her fellow performers.

— Stuart Wheeler

Stuart Wheeler’s liner notes for STORIES OUT OF CHERRY STEMS speak to the importance of Katie Procell upon my creative output and my direction as a composer and concert producer. In addition to these aspects of the album, I wanted to speak personally to the experience of STORIES OUT OF CHERRY STEMS as a whole. Even as there is contrast in the 80 minutes of music presented, similarities emerge, which, hopefully, lead to a whole that is satisfying in its subliminal unity. Ideally, as listeners follow the journey of this album, they will listen to more than one complete work in a single sitting — if not the full album — which will bring to their attention threads of sonic continuity between the pieces, binding them together across the disparate years of their composition on this single collection.

Any two or more works on the album could be in paired with satisfying results: the rocking, lullaby major 2nd interval that pervades the final movement of Entwine Our Tongues (2019) finds a mirror in the tentative, alternating major 2nd interval that opens Si Solamente (2017), gesturally peeking to the left and the right as the text addresses Neruda’s mysterious audience of nocturnal visitors. Si Solamente’s third movement has as its unobtrusive foundation a simple, lilting major 2nd interval that undergirds the sonnet setting’s Dorian mode melody, which is transformed into the plodding, funereal footsteps that the harp takes up in the first movement of Lost Daughter (2020/2021). The harp’s final, trailing C# harmonics of that massive song cycle become the D-flat of Katie’s opening, tender instruction to “go placidly amid the noise and the haste.”

While pointing out these compositions’ similarities may give the impression that this album is a one-note experience (or one-interval experience, in my case), I am not concerned. There is more than enough between these hinge-points, discovered and articulated here, years after I have composed some of these pieces. I personally view any artist establishing their “voice” as coming to the point of facility with their creative habits such that their internal consistency becomes recognizable to their audience. If this is my major 2nd to sing, I will sing it (rather, Katie sings it, rapturously).

Presented here is the encapsulation of my compositional accomplishments for the soprano voice: ambitious in its scope of text, duration, tessitura, and technique. There is nothing I have written elsewhere that isn’t also in here, and plenty in these pieces that I have not attempted elsewhere. I am extremely proud to present STORIES OUT OF CHERRY STEMS and am honored to know artists like Katie Procell, Erin Baker, Eric D’Alessandro, Amanda Dame, Garrett Hale, Jennifer Hughson, Lavena Johanson, Kyle Blake Jones, Andrea Morris, and Brian Tracey who made this album possible.

— Peter Dayton

Texts

Stories out of Cherry Stems

Peter Dayton

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Scores

Entwine Our Tongues (excerpt)

Peter Dayton

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Si Solamente (excerpt)

Peter Dayton

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Lost Daughter (excerpt)

Peter Dayton

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Desiderata

Peter Dayton

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