Voices of Earth and Air Vol V

Voices of Earth and Air Vol V

New Vocal Works

Bruce Lazarus composer
Beth Wiemann composer
L Peter Deutsch composer
Anthony Wilson composer
Martha Hill Duncan composer
Arthur Gottschalk composer

Release Date: August 25, 2023
Catalog #: NV6538
Format: Digital
21st Century
Vocal Music

Navona Records presents VOICES OF EARTH AND AIR VOL V, a dynamic album showcasing the human voice and the powerful storytelling capabilities that vocal music wields. Six contemporary composers from around the world offer breathtaking works that stir the senses in this release, from hauntingly beautiful ballads to uplifting choral arrangements and climactic moments of triumph. With intimate settings of the human voice with instrumental accompaniment, full-fledged choir works, and everything in between, the composers and performers on VOICES OF EARTH AND AIR VOL V deliver unique and impactful moments that are sure to strike a chord.


Hear the full album on YouTube

Track Listing & Credits

# Title Composer Performer
01 Friendship Song Bruce Lazarus Aliana de la Guardia, mezzo-soprano; Karolina Rojahn, piano 3:47
02 Young Charlotte Beth Wiemann Aliana de la Guardia, mezzo-soprano; Yoko Hagino, piano 10:14
03 When We Are Apart L Peter Deutsch Vox Futura | Andrew Shenton, conductor 3:08
04 The Dimensions of Love L Peter Deutsch Vox Futura | Andrew Shenton, conductor 4:06
05 N'fashot Tzadikim L Peter Deutsch Vox Futura | Andrew Shenton, conductor 3:05
06 Tears, Idle Tears Anthony Wilson Alexis Peart, mezzo-soprano; Yoko Hagino, piano 4:10
07 A Bird Came Down the Walk Anthony Wilson Alexis Peart, mezzo-soprano; Yoko Hagino, piano 6:08
08 Saskatchewan Songs Excerpts: I. Outside to Play on a Winter’s Day Martha Hill Duncan Aliana de la Guardia, mezzo-soprano; Yoko Hagino, piano 3:06
09 Saskatchewan Songs Excerpts: II. Bike Ride in the Country Martha Hill Duncan Aliana de la Guardia, mezzo-soprano; Yoko Hagino, piano 3:57
10 Saskatchewan Songs Excerpts: IV. Prairie Lily Martha Hill Duncan Aliana de la Guardia, mezzo-soprano; Yoko Hagino, piano 3:16
11 Litany Arthur Gottschalk The Prairie View A&M Concert Choir | A. Jan Taylor, director; John Cornelius, piano; Axiom String Quartet | Karl Blench, conductor; Dominika Dancewicz, Ingrid Gerling - violin; Nina Bledsoe, viola; Patrick Moore, cello 10:04

Friendship Song
“The Arrow and the Song” by H. W. Longfellow
Commissioned by Mary Ittelson in honor of her friends

The Dimensions of Love
Text from “love is more thicker than forget” by E. E. Cummings. Copyright 1939, © 1967, 1991 by the Trustees for the E. E. Cummings Trust, from COMPLETE POEMS: 1904-1962 by E. E. Cummings, edited by George J. Firmage. Used by permission of Liveright Publishing Corporation.

Saskatchewan Songs Excerpts
Text by Bonnie Cutsforth-Huber

Friendship Song
Recorded May 24, 2016 at Futura Productions in Roslindale MA
Editing Shaun Michaud
Session Engineer and Producer John Weston
Session Producer Jeff LeRoy

Young Charlotte
Recorded January 18, 2023 at Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport MA
Session Producer Lucas Paquette
Session Engineer Luke Damrosch

When We Are Apart, The Dimensions of Love
Recorded October 23, 2021 at Futura Productions in Roslindale MA
Session Engineer John Weston
Session Producer Noel Smith

N’fashot Tzadikim
Recorded 2021 at Futura Productions in Roslindale MA
Session Engineer and Producer Noel Smith
Session Engineer and Producer John Weston

Tears, Idle Tears, A Bird Came Down the Walk
Recorded June 29, 2022 at Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport MA
Session Producer Brad Michel
Session Engineer Tom Stephenson

Saskatchewan Songs Excerpts
Recorded January 17, 2023 at Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport MA
Session Producer Lucas Paquette
Session Engineer Luke Damrosch

Recorded on September 21, 2019 at the Opal Johnson Smith Auditorium of Prairie View A&M University in Prairie View TX
Session Producer John Cornelius, Arthur Gottschalk
Session Engineer Andrew M. Bradley
Editing, Mixing Lucas Paquette (tracks 2-5, 8-10), Ethan Fields (tracks 6, 7)

Mastering Melanie Montgomery

Executive Producer Bob Lord

A&R Director Brandon MacNeil
A&R Danielle Sullivan

VP of Production Jan Košulič
Audio Director Lucas Paquette
Production Manager Martina Watzková
Production Director Levi Brown (tracks 3-4)

VP, Design & Marketing Brett Picknell
Art Director Ryan Harrison
Design Edward A. Fleming
Publicity Patrick Niland, Aidan Curran

Artist Information

Bruce Lazarus

Bruce Lazarus


New York City composer Bruce Lazarus characterizes his extensive catalog of instrumental and vocal music as "diverse, concise, architectural, contemporary, and in turn meditative, energetic, humorous, moody, and exuberant.” Lazarus' music has often been inspired by astronomical imagery, woodlands and mountain trails, and lifetime involvement in the worlds of theater and dance. His works are published at Universal Editions and Swirly Music, and his albums - Musical Explorations of the Messier Star Clusters and Nebulae, Works for Solo Piano, November Sonata, and Song of the Earth - are available on iTunes, Amazon, and Spotify.

Beth Wiemann

Beth Wiemann


Beth Wiemann was raised in Burlington VT, studied composition and clarinet at Oberlin College and received her Ph.D. in composition from Princeton University. Her works have been performed nationally and internationally by the ensembles Continuum, Transient Canvas, Earplay, Guerilla Opera, and others.  Her compositions have won awards from the Orvis Foundation, Copland House, the Colorado New Music Festival, New York Treble Singers, and regional arts councils. She teaches clarinet, composition, and music theory at the University of Maine. 

L Peter Deutsch


L Peter Deutsch is a native of Massachusetts, now living in Sonoma County CA, and British Columbia, Canada. He writes primarily for small instrumental or a capella vocal ensembles, spanning styles from devotional to romantic to jazzy, and from Renaissance to early 20th century. Works to date include four choral commissions; releases through PARMA Recordings include music for chorus, string quartet, woodwind and brass quintets, piano trio (featuring work with Trio Casals), and full orchestra.

Anthony Wilson

Anthony Wilson


Anthony Wilson (b. 1962) developed a strong interest in music from an early age. He spent many hours at the piano as a child,  experimenting with various combinations of sound. His parents’ record player also provided the wonderful experience of being able to enjoy both the world of classical music and popular music.  

Martha Hill Duncan

Martha Hill Duncan


Martha Hill Duncan’s passion for music started early, inspired by her mother, who sang and played the piano by ear. She was a member of the first graduating class of the Houston High School for Performing and Visual Arts, (Vocal Music ’74) and earned a Bachelor of Music degree in Composition from the University of Texas at Austin (1979). She is grateful to many inspirational and generous teachers including composers Dr. Donald Grantham and Dr. Sam Dolin and pianists Danielle Martin, Gregory Allen, Dr. Errol Haun, and Trudy Borden.


Arthur Gottschalk


Arthur Gottschalk is Professor of Music Composition at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, where he founded and directed the school’s electronic music laboratories until 2002, and chaired the composition and theory department for 15 years. His early work as a studio musician led to his co-founding of Modern Music Ventures, Inc., a company which held a recording studio complex, a record production division, four publishing firms, and an artist management division, and for whom he produced records for the PolyGram and Capitol labels, among others.

Aliana de la Guardia


The Arts Fuse lauds de la Guardia’s sound as “lovely, natural” and “as clear and powerful as grain alcohol.” As an active soprano vocalist, Aliana de la Guardia has garnered acclaim for her “dazzling flights of virtuosity” (Gramophone) in “vocally fearless” performances that are “fizzing with theatrical commitment” (The Boston Globe). A graduate of the Boston Conservatory and consummate interpreter of new classical concert repertoire, she has enjoyed collaborations with many ensembles featuring today’s most eminent composers including “Scenes from a Novel” and “Kafka Fragments” with violinist Gabriela Diaz by György Kurtág, “Aspen Suite” by Salvatore Sciarrino,“Nenia: the Death of Orpheus” by Harrison Birtwistle conducted by Jeffery Means, and the world premiere of “Earth Songs” by Ronald Perrera with New England Philharmonic, among others.

Karolina Rojahn


Karolina Rojahn is a Los Angeles based pianist who has dedicated the last decade of her career to premiering and recording contemporary music repertoire. She has premiered over a hundred new works and collaborated with various classical music labels, most notably Naxos, having released over 43 recordings of chamber and solo piano music, including 5 piano concertos written specifically for her.

Yoko Hagino

Yoko Hagino


Yoko Hagino was born and raised in Japan, where she began her piano studies at the age of 4. As a child, she performed her own compositions, which took her to Europe and the United States, including performances as a concert soloist with the Czech Symphony, the University of Southern California Symphony, Kyoto City Symphony, and Ensemble Orchestra Kanazawa. Hagino has appeared as a soloist with Osaka Century Orchestra, UMass Boston Chamber Orchestra, Key West Symphony Orchestra, White Rabbit Sinfonietta, and has also performed various piano recitals ranging from the music of Bach to contemporary repertoire. Hagino is a prize winner of the Steinway Society Piano Competition, the First International Chamber Music Competition, the All-Japan Selective Competition of the International Mozart Competition, and Chamber Music Competition of Japan.

Vox Futura


Vox Futura is New England's premier recording choir for composers, recording artists, film, television, and video games. Past projects have included work with internationally distributed classical production house PARMA Recordings, video game companies Nintendo and Bandai Namco, legendary German power metal band Blind Guardian, and platinum selling world music artist Sami Yusef.

Axiom Quartet


The Axiom Quartet is a dynamic professional ensemble based in Houston, TX. The group is known for creating and performing programs that mix traditional string quartet repertoire and transcriptions of works from a variety of genres (including jazz, electronic, rock, indie, etc.). By combining these genres, the quartet exposes classical music audiences to extraordinary music from different genres, and creates new fans of the classical repertoire.

Karl Blench

Karl Blench


Karl Blench is a composer and conductor who holds bachelor’s degrees in education and music theory from the University of New Hampshire, and a Master’s degree and DMA in composition from Rice University. His music has been performed throughout the United States, Europe, and Cuba. Recent engagements include performances of his works by the Shepherd School Chamber Symphony, the h2 Saxophone Quartet, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, and the University of New Hampshire and University of Houston Wind Ensembles.

A. Jan Taylor

choral director

A. Jan Taylor, educator, pianist, singer and choral conductor, is Director of Choral Music Activities at Prairie View A&M University. A native of Houston TX, she received the Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Houston, the Master of Arts degree from Prairie View A&M University, and the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Choral Conducting at the University of Houston. Taylor is a member of the Board of Directors of the Bay Area Chorus, and holds memberships in the Texas Music Educators Association, American Choral Directors Association, Texas Choral Directors Association, and Sigma Alpha Iota, a music fraternity for women.

Under Taylor’s direction, the Prairie View A&M University Concert Chorale and PV Chamber Singers have performed to critical acclaim throughout the United States and abroad, including performances at the Texas Music Educators Association convention, and the International Festival Wratislavia Cantans, a prestigious music festival for choirs and orchestras in Poland. Her choirs have performed with the Houston Symphony, the Acadian Symphony, and have collaborated with several professional and community choruses in the Greater Houston area.

John Cornelius


John L. Cornelius, II is a member of ASCAP and the American Federation of Musicians (Local 65-699). He has written several works for the lyric theater including Garfield: The Musical with Cattitude, Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds, Mirandy and Brother Wind, and The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings. His most recent concert works include several song cycles, cantatas and What Wings They Were (chamber opera), Sweet Freedom’s Song: a Fantasia on the hymn-tune America, The River (MFA-Boston), Colored Carnegie (Dance Suite, commissioned by Urban Souls Dance Company) and PAX, commissioned by The Apollo Chamber Players. Cornelius is a native of Jackson MS and is Professor of Music at Prairie View A&M University.


I composed Friendship Song in 2015 on commission from Mary Ittelson, an artistic collaborator and long-time friend who requested that the three-minute song for soprano and piano would be relatively easy to sing and dedicated “in honor of her friends.” H. W. Longfellow’s poem The Arrow and the Song was a natural choice for the text as the beginning was familiar (“I shot an arrow into the air/It fell to earth, I knew not where…”) and the ending seemed like something Ittelson herself might say (“…And the song, from beginning to end/I found again in the heart of a friend.”). For more information and samples of my songs please visit www.brucelazaruscomposer.com/songsforvoiceandpiano.

— Bruce Lazarus

The Arrow and the Song
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I shot an arrow into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For, so swiftly it flew, the sight
Could not follow it in its flight.

I breathed a song into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For who has sight so keen and strong,
That she can follow the flight of song?*

Long, long afterward, in an oak
I found the arrow, still unbroke;
And the song, from beginning to end,
I found again in the heart of a friend.

*Originally “That it can follow the flight of song?”

Young Charlotte was written in 2017 for the Opera from Scratch program in Halifax led by Janice Jackson with Vocalypse Productions. Based on an old folk song of the same name, it updates the tale of a young woman going to a New Year’s Eve party in a romantic horse-powered sleigh who is not dressed for it, with bad results. The extreme cold makes her somewhat dizzy at first, and eventually turns her into a ghost, although a good-looking one. The accompaniment for this singer in this monodrama mixes the old folk tune with a more modern set of electronic sounds, in a kind of Edward Scissorhands-inspired environment.

Young Charlotte
Adapted from the folk song of the same name
Beth Wiemann

Charlotte is looking at herself in a mirror, wearing a better-than-average prom dress and primping. There’s a fancy scarf draped over the mirror, for use later.

The opening of the work is addressed to the audience.
At different times in the piece, she sings the original folk song as a contrast with her own modern-day situation. Lighting may be used to define these sections of the work as being in a different environment from the opening section.

Look at my dress, isn’t it great? Meant for the spring. Got it on sale.. ..You can’t wear this kind of thing.. Very refined, very lightweight. I can’t help it if it suits me! Dad hasn’t seen it. Or Mom.
Have to wear sandals, Mustn’t wear boots, Should be fine with the right transportation.
New Year’s party! Charles drives us down, All fifteen miles. Maybe in a limo!

Charlotte alters her appearance, enters a trance as she quotes the folk song about her namesake.
One New Year’s Eve as the sun went down She looked a wistful eye
Along the crowded window forth as the merry sleighs went by.
Restless was her watchful eye till his well-known voice she heard,
Young Charles in a sleigh appeared.

Waking up
A sleigh? A sleigh?
Suddenly happy
A sleigh?
Oh, how romantic! Of course, it’s the best! Oh! Look, Mom! It’s like a fairy tale.
We’ll make such an en-trance! It’s like a fairy tale with my dress all flowing, flowing, flowing around me. It’ll be such a picture, Such a contrast, The dress and the white snow,

Back in a trance, but rushing
“O Charlotte dear,” her mother cried, “Those blankets round you fold, for it is a bitter cold night, a bitter cold night. And you’ll catch your death of cold.”

Oh no, mama! Not on your life! Won’t have my dress covered up! But I have a good scarf, it’spretty and silk. That’ll be enough! And it makes a good impression! Come on, Charles, Let’s go! Out of this dreary old house! There’ll be music in those merry bells, in the sleigh, in the sleigh..

Charlotte moves to a chair representing the sleigh, motions as though getting in next to Charles.

She wraps her scarf more tightly around herself.

Such a night as this we ne’er did see, The reins he scarce could hold. Young Charlotte spoke with a feeble voice, “I am exceeding cold.” Five miles down.

Charles cracked the whip, he urged his steed much faster than before, Until another five miles around in silence they passed o’er.

The snow is sticking to me! Am I getting warmer? Maybe if I let the snow cover me. It will cover me. Ten miles down. over the hills, And through the vales, and out to the star-light!
Where are we? How far? I hear the music.

Charlotte becomes more immobile.

I see Charles get out, and offer his hand. And here I sit, And have no power to stand.

Lights suddenly change –
Charlotte makes sudden motion off the “sleigh,” as though she has left her own body.
She addresses the audience up close, but often looks back at the “sleigh.”

I can’t feel the snow, I can’t feel the air, I see Charles look at me, I’m frozen in place.
I don’t know what’s next. I can’t hear the music!

Charlotte gestures back at the sleigh, while speaking to the audience.
I look so shiny. I stand in the light!

With satisfaction
Look at me. Look at me, People will remember me! I’ll be famous! Forever!

Look at me!

When We Are Apart was written in early 2020, soon after the start of the lockdowns for the COVID-19 pandemic. With a text by the composer, it seeks to express the sadness of isolation, the longing for being able to sing together again, and the deeper conviction that “the song eternal” is greater and more lasting than the act of singing.

— L Peter Deutsch

While the words of the E.E. Cummings text of The Dimensions of Love are somewhat cryptic, the music mirrors its feeling of expansion, from a monochromatic opening unison to an exuberant final five-voice chord. This piece was a commission for the 2011 “West Coast Composers” concert of the Bay Choral Guild.

— L Peter Deutsch

William Byrd’s setting of the Latin Psalm text Justorum Animae has been a favorite of this composer’s for many years. N’fashot Tzadikim is a return to the text’s Jewish roots. Rather than making a simple declaration, the adapted text gives its message greater force by asking “Where are the spirits of the just?” at the beginning, before concluding with the Psalm text “They are in peace.”

— L Peter Deutsch

When I first turned my attention to this poem, I wondered what Tennyson meant by “Idle Tears.” I discovered that “idle” meant without a clear purpose or cause; in other words, the person is crying, but they have no idea why.

This poem is told from the perspective of a person who is struggling to deal with their grief effectively. In the early stages of their life, when they have not experienced much loss, the person is able to push their reaction to their grief to one side; but as they grow older, and they experience the passing of many loved ones over time, they are unable to dismiss their reaction to the losses in the same way. They reach a crisis point in their life, when the accumulation of unresolved losses results in them being unable to experience an emotion other than sadness. They must now find a way to deal with their grief, or it will totally consume them.

Ultimately the poem finishes on a more optimistic note, as the person begins to discover the reasons for their grief. Awareness eventually leads to understanding, and perhaps to some kind of acceptance. There is also some frustration though, at having to continually deal with loss at an increasing frequency as the person ages.

— Anthony Wilson

Tears, Idle Tears
By Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Tears, Idle tears, I know not what they mean,
Tears from the depth of some divine despair
Rise in the heart, and gather in the eyes,
In looking on the happy autumn fields,
And thinking of the days that are no more,
So sad, so fresh, the days that are no more.
No more! The days that are no more.

Tears, Idle tears, I know not what they mean.
What they mean,
Thinking of the days that are no more,
So sad, so strange, the days that are no more.
No more! Looking on the happy autumn fields,
No more! The days that are no more!

A Bird Came Down the Walk describes the experiences of a bird living in 2 different worlds – one world dominated by the constructs of humanity, the other being the natural world of the bird.

The bird is able to survive in the ‘human’ world, albeit somewhat cautiously. Perhaps we could say it survives in this world, but it does not thrive.

At any point the bird is able to return to its natural world. This is exactly what happens when a human being reaches out to the bird with a crumb – a rather futile gesture intended to make a connection with the bird, but one the bird has no need for. At this moment, the words used to describe the flight of the bird are particularly evocative: ‘And he unrolled his feathers, and rowed him softer home’. And with that, the bird has returned to its wonderful natural world.

— Anthony Wilson

A Bird Came Down the Walk
By Emily Dickinson

A Bird came down the Walk: He did not know I saw;
He bit an angle-worm in halves And ate the fellow raw.

And then he drank a Dew From a convenient Grass,
Then hopped sidewise to the Wall To let a Beetle pass.

He glanced with rapid eyes, That hurried all abroad;
They looked like frightened Beads, I thought,
He stirred his Velvet Head, Stirred his Velvet Head.

Like one in danger, Cautious, I offered him a Crumb,
And he unrolled his feathers, And rowed him softer Home –

Than Oars divide the Ocean, Too silver for a, a seam.

Canadian composers have a long tradition of creating individual songs, song cycles, and song sets for mezzo-soprano or contralto and piano. Largely due to the influence of Canadian contralto Maureen Forrester (1930-2010), composers such as R. Murray Schafer (b. 1933), Harry Somers (1925-1999) and Robert Fleming (1921-1976) were inspired by the depth and richness of the mezzo-soprano and contralto fachs and their dramatic possibilities. The art songs of several female Canadian composers, including Violet Archer (1913-2000) and Jean Coulthard (1908-2000) were also heavily influenced by this trend. One of the most recent contributions to this long-established tradition is Martha Hill Duncan’s five-song concert set, Saskatchewan Songs, for low voice. What is unique about this song collection is that the poetry was written by a professional classical singer — contralto and Saskatchewan native Bonnie Cutsforth-Huber. That the poetry was written from a singer’s point of view is obvious in the vivid word choices that command a lively, communicative, and expressive approach to their performance, a fact that was noted by the composer herself:

“I felt an instant connection with her [Bonnie Cutsforth-Huber] and was thrilled with the possibility of composing for a singer who also happened to be the poet. This collaboration has been extremely rewarding for me and I hope that my music has fully showcased her evocative, imaginative and nostalgic poetry about Saskatchewan. As a transplanted Texan living in Canada, I certainly feel a bit of nostalgia myself when I’ve experienced the big sky, vast landscape and friendly people of this beautiful prairie province.”
— Martha Hill Duncan

from A Voice from the Prairie: Martha Hill Duncan’s Saskatchewan’s Songs by Bonnie Cutsforth-Huber, Journal of Singing, March/April 2018 Volume 74, No. 4, pp. 379–392, Copyright © 2018, National Association of Teachers of Singing

Litany was composed for the Boniuk Institute for Religious Tolerance, assisted by a grant from the Houston Arts Alliance, and dedicated to the choir members of Prairie View A&M University and their Director, Dr. A. Jan Taylor. The text is from The Book of Common Prayer, which was used by scholar W.E.B. Du Bois has interjections in his poetic essay A Litany for Atlanta. By setting only the interjections, I hoped to address the emotions behind the text, which dealt with police brutality and race riots in Atlanta in 1906. Significantly, Du Bois was a frequent guest and lecturer on the campus of what was then Prairie View State College in the 1940s. Prairie View is now Prairie View A&M University, and is not only an important HCBU but the second oldest public institution of higher learning in the State of Texas. It is certainly one of the greatest shames upon this country that what Dr. Du Bois, the first Black person to earn a doctorate from Harvard University, addressed in his moving essay are problems that continue to this day, more than a century later.

— Arthur Gottschalk


Excerpts from American/Canadian composer Martha Hill Duncan’s concert set, Saskatchewan Songs, performed by mezzo-soprano Aliana de la Guardia and pianist Yoko Hagino