Tapestry of Voices


Christopher Jessup composer
David Gaines composer
John Craven composer
Michael G Cunningham composer
L Peter Deutsch composer
Ryan Homsey composer
Hendrik Hofmeyr composer
Richard E Brown composer

Release Date: December 1, 2023
Catalog #: NV6583
Format: Digital
21st Century
Vocal Music

TAPESTRY OF VOICES from Navona Records showcases the versatility and elegance of the human voice woven with grand orchestral statements, colorful choral arrangements, and intimate settings with piano. Eight contemporary composers offer settings of poetry and stories from various cultures throughout human history, from Africa to Europe, North America, and beyond. Threading modern takes on Greek mythology, meditations on concepts of loss, mortality, and more, TAPESTRY OF VOICES is exactly as its title suggests — an intricate and artistic convergence of ideas that’s sure to entrance those who experience it.


Hear the full album on YouTube

Track Listing & Credits

# Title Composer Performer
01 Astronomia: I. When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer Christopher Jessup The Kühn Choir of Prague | Lenka Navrátilová, choirmaster 4:19
02 Ho, Mia Kor' David Gaines Bree Nichols, soprano; Alexandr Starý, piano 3:57
03 My Life Closed Twice John Craven Bree Nichols, soprano; Alexandr Starý, piano 7:01
04 Hymn – Mass: I. Lord, Have Mercy Michael G Cunningham The Kühn Choir of Prague | Lenka Navrátilová, choirmaster; Daniela Kosinová-Valtová, organ 1:03
05 Hymn – Mass: II. Glory to God Michael G Cunningham The Kühn Choir of Prague | Lenka Navrátilová, choirmaster; Daniela Kosinová-Valtová, organ 1:50
06 Hymn – Mass: III. Holy Michael G Cunningham The Kühn Choir of Prague | Lenka Navrátilová, choirmaster; Daniela Kosinová-Valtová, organ 0:54
07 Hymn – Mass: IV. The Lord's Prayer Michael G Cunningham The Kühn Choir of Prague | Lenka Navrátilová, choirmaster; Daniela Kosinová-Valtová, organ 0:57
08 Hymn – Mass: V. Lamb of God Michael G Cunningham The Kühn Choir of Prague | Lenka Navrátilová, choirmaster; Daniela Kosinová-Valtová, organ 1:37
09 The Voices of Creation L Peter Deutsch The Kühn Choir of Prague | Lenka Navrátilová, choirmaster 3:06
10 There Will Be Stars L Peter Deutsch The Kühn Choir of Prague | Lenka Navrátilová, choirmaster 2:36
11 Your Name Ryan Homsey Bree Nichols, soprano; Alexandr Starý, piano 3:14
12 Thula, Thu Hendrik Hofmeyr Bree Nichols, soprano; Alexandr Starý, piano 3:41
13 The Broken String Hendrik Hofmeyr Bree Nichols, soprano; Alexandr Starý, piano 4:27
14 The Poet’s Book of Wisdom: II. Daybreak Michael G Cunningham The Kühn Choir of Prague | Lenka Navrátilová, choirmaster; Marcel Javorček, piano 2:32
15 The Poet’s Book of Wisdom: III. Nature Michael G Cunningham The Kühn Choir of Prague | Lenka Navrátilová, choirmaster; Marcel Javorček, piano 2:38
16 The Poet’s Book of Wisdom: IV. Excelsior Michael G Cunningham The Kühn Choir of Prague | Lenka Navrátilová, choirmaster; Marcel Javorček, piano 5:29
17 The Poet’s Book of Wisdom: V. The Day is Done Michael G Cunningham The Kühn Choir of Prague | Lenka Navrátilová, choirmaster; Marcel Javorček, piano 6:53
18 The Torment of Medea Richard E Brown Janáček Philharmonic Ostrava | Jiří Petrdlík, conductor; Bree Nichols, soprano 16:25

Recorded February 8, 2023 at The Chapel at Korunní in Prague, Czech Republic

Ho Mia Kor’, My Life Closed Twice, The Voices of Creation, There Will Be Stars, Your Name, Thula Thu, The Broken String, Torment of Medea
Recorded June 8, 13-16, 2023 at Vesmír Concert Hall in Ostrava, Czech Republic

Hymn – Mass, The Poet’s Book
Recorded Jan 19, 25, 2022 at The Chapel at Korunni in Prague, Czech Republic
Production Director Levi Brown

Session Producer
Jan Košulič (tracks 1-3, 9-13, 18)
Pavel Kunčar (tracks 4-8, 14-17)

Session Engineer
Aleš Dvořák (tracks 1-2, 4-8, 11, 14-18)
Pavel Kunčar (tracks 3, 12-13)
Adam Janků (tracks 2, 11, 18)

Editing & Mixing
Melanie Montgomery (tracks 2-8, 11-17)
Jan Košulič (tracks 1, 9-10)
Lucas Paquette (track 18)

Additional Editing & Mixing Melanie Montgomery (tracks 1, 9-10)

Mastering Melanie Montgomery

Executive Producer Bob Lord

A&R Director Brandon MacNeil
A&R Danielle Sullivan, Jeff LeRoy, Ivana Hauser

VP of Production Jan Košulič
Audio Director Lucas Paquette
Production Manager Martina Watzková
Production Assistant Adam Lysák (tracks 1-3, 9-13, 18)

VP, Design & Marketing Brett Picknell
Art Director Ryan Harrison
Design Edward A. Fleming
Publicity Kacie Brown

Artist Information

Christopher Jessup


American composer and pianist Christopher Jessup is an award-winning artist of formidable prowess. Jessup has garnered international acclaim, with critics praising his “imaginative handling of atmosphere” [Fanfare Magazine] and “high standard of technique” [New York Concert Review]. Furthermore, he has performed at Carnegie Hall countless times, soloed with distinguished orchestras across the globe, and collaborated with some of the finest artists and ensembles of our time.

David Gaines

David Gaines


Both critics and other artists have recognized composer David Gaines (b. 1961) for his imaginative orchestrations and his uniquely international and eclectic style. His music, which has been performed across North America and Europe, includes two symphonies, concertos for baritone saxophone, trombone, and euphonium, plus a variety of chamber, choral, and electronic music. A graduate of Northwestern University, American University, and Johns Hopkins University's Peabody Conservatory of Music (where he earned a doctoral degree in composition), he has been a faculty member at The New School's online Master of Media Technology degree program via Connected Education, Inc., for which he created the first Internet university-level music course for credit (on the history of electronic music technology), as well as University of Maryland Global Campus (formerly University of Maryland University College), where he held the rank of adjunct associate professor.

John J. Craven


John J. Craven (b.1971) was enthusiastically drawn to listening to classical music, music theater, and popular music as a child. He studied piano and flute and began to compose at age 11. He was a winner in the Fourth International Aaron Copland Competition for Young Composers at age 12. He studied piano at the Peabody Conservatory of Music from 1989 to 1991. From 1992 to 1994 he received a B.A. in Communication Studies at the University of Iowa; in 1997 he completed a B.F.A. in music composition at SUNY Purchase. He returned to Peabody in 2009 to receive a M.M. in composition.

Michael G. Cunningham


A great artist can manifest answers to otherwise perplexing aspects of our world through their craft and help us find understanding. Composer, author, and long-time PARMA artist Michael G. Cunningham (1937-2022) was the embodiment of this truth, a prolific artist whose timeless body of work will resonate for years to come. From symphonies and other orchestral works to piano pieces, art songs, opera, choral compositions, and works for jazz ensembles spanning 11 Navona Records releases, Cunningham showed an unwavering dedication to sharing his music with the world. Upon receiving his doctorate from Indiana University, Cunningham embarked on an artistic journey that would lead him to write over 250 musical compositions spanning multiple genres, pedagogical music books, and more.

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.

Ryan Homsey

Ryan Homsey


Ryan Homsey is a versatile, award-winning American composer, equally at home writing for instrumental and choral ensembles, theater, dance, and film. His background in classical, electroacoustic, and popular music draws inspiration from his history as a professional ballet dancer. Homsey’s works have been performed by JACK Quartet, PUBLIQuartet, Access Contemporary Music, ensemble mise-en, Duluth-Superior Symphony Orchestra’s Music to You String Quartet, Boston New Music Initiative, and the Orlando Contemporary Chamber Orchestra at such venues as the Taipei Cultural Center, the Museum of Natural History, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, HERE Arts, and National Sawdust.

Hendrik Hofmeyr

Hendrik Hofmeyr


Hendrik Hofmeyr, who has been described as South Africa’s most performed composer of Classical music, was born in Cape Town in 1957. He achieved his first major success as a composer in 1988 with the performance at the State Theatre of The Fall of the House of Usher, which won the South African Opera Competition and the Nederburg Opera Prize. In the same year, Hofmeyr, who was furthering his studies in Italy during ten years of self-imposed political exile, obtained first prize in an international competition in Trent with music for a short film by Wim Wenders. In 1992 he was appointed lecturer at the University of Stellenbosch, and in 1997 won two further international competitions, the Queen Elisabeth Competition of Belgium (with Raptus for violin and orchestra) and the Dimitri Mitropoulos Competition in Athens (with Byzantium for high voice and orchestra).

Richard E Brown

Richard E Brown


Richard E. Brown, a native of New York State and has been active as a composer-arranger and music educator for many years. His training includes M.M. and D.M. degrees in composition from Florida State University, as well as a B.A. in music education from Central College, which named him a Distinguished Alumnus in 1983. His principal composition studies were with Carlisle Floyd, John Boda, and Charles Carter.

Kühn Choir of Prague


The Kühn Choir of Prague is one of the largest Czech choirs and has been part of the musical world for over 60 years. It devotes itself to the choral repertoire of all periods, and its activities include significant performances of contemporary music, performances of large vocal-instrumental works in collaboration with leading Czech orchestras and, last but not least, projects for the performance and recording of film music.

Lenka Navrátilová


Lenka Navrátilová studied piano and harpsichord at the Teplice Conservatory and choral conducting (sacred music) under the guidance of Jiří Kolář and Marek Štryncl at the Faculty of Education of Charles University in Prague. She is second chorus master of the Kühn Choir of Prague, professor of opera coaching at the Prague Conservatory, and répétiteur of the Prague Philharmonic Choir. As the assistant to the chorus master of the Prague Philharmonic Choir, she has participated in its appearances in Doha, Berlin, and at the Sankt Gallen opera festival.

Bree Nichols


Bree Nichols is a young American soprano praised for her “rich vocal disposition” (KlasikaPlus) and compelling stage presence. A Fulbright grantee to the Czech Republic, Nichols is known for her sensitive interpretations of Czech vocal music as well as over a dozen operatic roles spanning a diverse repertoire. Her career has taken her to the stages of Symphony of the Mountains, Capitol City Opera, Opera Roanoke, Lewisville Lake Symphony, Opera on the James, Opera Experience Southeast, the Olomouc Baroque Festival, and more.

Janáček Philharmonic Ostrava


The Janáček Philharmonic is a world-class symphony orchestra based in Ostrava, Czech Republic and an emerging figure on the international performance scene. With over 100 top-level musicians, the orchestra aims to introduce unique, quality repertoire while showcasing their own recognizable sound.

Jiří Petrdlík


Jiří Petrdlík (b. 1977) is appreciated as one of the most respectable conductors of his generation. He studied piano, trombone, and conducting — 1995–2000 at Prague Conservatory, and 2000–2005 at Academy of Performing Arts Prague — with Hynek Farkač, Miroslav Košler, Miriam Němcová, Radomil Eliška, and Tomáš Koutník, and took part in the masterclasses of the New York Philharmonic Principal Conductor Kurt Masur and the BBC Philharmonic Principal Conductor Jiří Bělohlávek. Petrdlík also successfully took part in several competitions, including the Donatella Flick Conductor Competition in London.

Alexandr Starý


Alexandr Starý, comes from the north Moravian city of Ostrava, where he studied the Janáček Conservatory with Marta Toaderová. He simultaneously attended the Gymnázium Olgy Havlové. After his secondary school studies, he graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts, where he now works as an accompanist. His performing skills have been further enhanced by taking part in masterclasses of such esteemed pedagogues as Dimitri Bashkirov, Zoltán Kocsis, Marta Gulyás, and Andrzej Jasinski.

His four-year participation at the prestigious Summer Academy at the German town of Pommersfelden culminated in 2008 with a performance of the 2nd piano concerto by Sergei Rachmaninov under the baton of Sergio Cárdenas. He has often played with the Janáček Philharmonic Ostrava, the Brno Philharmonic, and other orchestras. He has received numerous awards in music competitions — first place in the International Beethoven Competition at Hradec nad Moravicí and the International F. Chopin Competition at Mariánské Lázně. He has been combining his solo career with that of a chamber musician and is therefore often invited by many artists to collaborate with them.

His versatility is prized not only by instrument players, but also many operatic singers who can benefit from many years of his experience with this type of music. His cooperation with the singer Jan Martiník has earned him the prize for the best accompanist at the Yelena Obraztsev International Singing Competition in Moscow and the invitation to a masterclass on performing German Lieder led by Thomas Quasthoff. His long-term musical partnerships include those with violinist Martina Bačová and bassist Richard Novák. He has been a member of the piano trio A Tre for a decade.


Astronomia: I. “When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer” is the first movement of a three-movement set of a cappella choral works. The set comprises three different pieces that each use poems written by Walt Whitman. Each poem centers around the theme of astronomy in one way or another, with the collection’s title Astronomia linking together these seemingly disparate pieces of poetry. “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer” is a free verse style poem with the following message: one can only learn so much about nature through science and mathematics. In order to gain a truly profound understanding of the natural world, one needs to experience it for themselves.

— Christopher Jessup

A short poem written by Dr. Ludwig Zamenhof, creator of the international language Esperanto, Ho, Mia Kor' (“Oh, My Heart”) is considered to be the first literary text ever published in the language. It appeared in Zamenhof's Unua Libro (“First Book”), a basic manual that served to introduce Esperanto to the world, in 1887. Ho, Mia Kor' still serves as a model of elegant, creative Esperanto usage and directly influenced the creation of a wide variety of Esperanto poems around the world.

When first presented with the opportunity to compose a new art song for soprano and piano several years ago, just prior to the COVID pandemic, I selected Ho, Mia Kor' for the text for both practical and inspirational reasons. The poem is in the public domain, so no copyright issues, and as a long time Esperantist myself I always seek occasions to promote the use of this language within the classical/art music world – as I did with my Symphony No. 1 - where it remains severely underused and underappreciated.

The music is based on a simple pentatonic scale which, along with different value triplets occurring simultaneously in the piano left and right hands, produces a distinctly non-Western atmosphere throughout. This has been characteristic of much of my music where I've sought to synthesize multiple musical traditions. The melodic line of the soprano expresses the longing and yearning so evident in Zamenhof's historic poetry.

Ho, Mia Kor'
Ho, mia kor', ne batu maltrankvile,
El mia brusto nun ne saltu for!
Jam teni min ne povas mi facile,
Ho, mia kor'!

Ho, mia kor'! Post longa laborado
Ĉu mi ne venkos en decida hor'?
Sufiĉe! Trankviliĝu de l' batado,
Ho, mia kor'!

Oh, My Heart
Oh, my heart, don't beat so uneasily,
Do not leap from my chest now!
I cannot easily hold myself back now,
Oh, my heart!

Oh, my heart! After long laboring,
Will I not succeed in the deciding hour?
Enough! Ease your beating,
Oh, my heart!

— David Gaines

My Life Closed Twice is a setting of Emily Dickinson’s poem that was published posthumously in 1896. It is an elegy that attempts to portray Dickinson’s intense, internal, mournful, and conflicting emotions about mortality. At first, she is anxious and questions what grief means to her. It is difficult to accept her own mortality. Contemplating a figurative “third event” becomes “hopeless to conceive” and leads to a tearful, emotional release. Then, as she calms down, she turns inward, ponders the mysteries of heaven and hell, and realizes that an afterlife is uncertain.

My life closed twice before its close
By Emily Dickinson

My life closed twice before its close—
It yet remains to see
If Immortality unveil
A third event to me

So huge, so hopeless to conceive
As these that twice befell.
Parting is all we know of heaven,
And all we need of hell.

The piece begins with a somber introduction in C# minor. In the right hand, in the low register, there is a motive of a rising major third triplet followed by a falling major second quarter note. The soprano’s melodic lines, in C# (“My life closed twice before its close”) and E minor (“It yet remains to see”), span the leap of a minor seventh and indicate Dickinson’s questioning spirit. Next, the listener hears “If Immortality unveil/A third event to me” in two distinct, melodic phrases, first in E minor and second in Bb major. As tension builds, the ascending melodic line leads to a powerful climax on the repeated word “befell.” There is a significant harmonic shift, a singing of high B’s and C’s, and a shattering, emotional breakdown. The introduction then returns in fragmented form to imply fragility. In the song’s conclusion, the soprano softly sings “parting” two times with the piano echoing in descending minor thirds. Then, as Dickinson reflects about heaven and hell, the piano becomes almost consoling, with earlier, tense music now seemingly comforting. Finally, the pianist finishes by quietly sustaining a C augmented chord in the uppermost register.

— John J. Craven

Your Name is a meditation on the loss of a loved one who is forgotten momentarily, but whose memory returns in a vision of the sky and the prairie. In her poem, Joyce Sutphen, Minnesota’s Poet Laureate from 2011-2021, proclaims that the dead can communicate from “beyond the grave” through the images, sounds, and even silence that permeate the landscape. The harmony is imbued with gentle, diffused dissonances that impart the poem’s tension between physical absence and the enduring quality of love. As a native Midwesterner from Superior WI, I felt an immediate connection to Joyce’s poetry — and especially the sense of longing depicted in Your Name.

Your Name from Carrying Water to the Field: New and Selected Poems
By Joyce Sutphen

One day, when you were no longer
there, I forgot to say your name.
I say it now. Your name

is more beautiful than the sky
at dawn—the bowl of it fills up
with colors only air can hold.

I hear your name on the prairie,
coming from beyond the farthest
field, the last line of trees—your name

is the only thing that can prove
that the ear can hear beyond the grave.
I say your name, and you answer

with a silence that I take
for love—a love that I carry
all the way to the horizon.

— Ryan Homsey


Requested by Pretty Yende

This beautiful Zulu lullaby is treated here as a theme for a set of variations for voice and piano. The text can loosely be translated as follows:

Hush, hush, my baby, hush my child,
your mommy will be home by dawn.
There’s a star that will lead her home,
the star will brighten her way home.

(Free translation by Hendrik Hofmeyr)

— Hendrik Hofmeyr


Commissioned by the SAMRO FOUNDATION 2017 for the UNISA International Singing Competition

The text of the main section of this lament was adapted by the composer from a song by the /Xam shaman Xaa-ting. His son Dia!kwain sang it to the ethnographer WHI Bleek in the Katkop district in July 1875. The transcription and literal translation of the text can be found in the Bleek Collection at the University of Cape Town. The free paraphrase of the text is interwoven in this poem with lines adapted from an anonymous Bushman song, in which the yearning heart is likened to the parched grass of the Kalahari Desert.

They were the ones who broke the string,
the string that held my heart.
And now the string is broken, and
my heart has lost its home.

The world that once embraced me
now lies empty as a shell.
They broke the string, they broke the string;
my heart has lost its home.

The withered grass blades in my hand
once waved upon the sands,
and whisp'ring, pleaded with the wind
to bring the longed-for rain.

My heart cried to the wind all day
to bring the healing rain,
but even the rain's sweet touch has failed
to mend that broken string,

All that was good is gone from me,
No hand can mend that string.
They broke the string that held my heart,
my heart has lost its home.

— Hendrik Hofmeyr

This 16-minute monodrama for soprano and orchestra was inspired by Samuel Barber’s 1962 dramatic monologue Andromache’s Farewell, and like that work, it sets a scene from the great classical Greek dramatist Euripides. Barber’s libretto is drawn from his tragedy The Trojan Women, and mine uses parts of a long monologue from another great Euripides tragedy, Medea. Although the protagonists and circumstances in the two scenes are very different, both compositions similarly share the very dark and tragic theme of mothers saying goodbye to their about-to-be-murdered young sons.

The Torment of Medea was performed a few times with piano accompaniment shortly after it was written, but this recording represents the first performance of the complete orchestral score.

The scene-setting prologue and libretto are linked below.

— Richard E Brown


The Torment of Medea

Richard E Brown


Richard E Brown - The Torment of Medea