LSM Newswire

Monday, December 14, 2009

Composer / Pianist Gregg Kallor Releases New CD "Exhilaration - Dickinson and Yeats Songs," with Mezzo-Soprano Adriana Zabala

Exhilaration – Dickinson and Yeats Songs, a new recording of Gregg Kallor’s settings of poems by Emily Dickinson and William Butler Yeats, has been released on the composer’s own independent label (GKM 50020-1). The recording features mezzo-soprano Adriana Zabala, who premiered these song cycles with Mr. Kallor at his Carnegie Hall debut recital in 2007. Also included on the disc are his setting of Christina Rossetti’s poem, Song, and Lullaby, to lyrics by Herschel Garfein.

The contents of the CD, with music by Gregg Kallor, follows:

Song (2:29)

(Poem by Christina Rossetti)

Yeats Songs

(Poems by William Butler Yeats)

Ribh in Ecstasy (2:43)

He wishes for the Cloths of Heaven (2:40)

A Coat (1:59)

The Lady’s First Song (2:23)

A Drunken Man’s Praise of Sobriety (2:08)


(Poems by Emily Dickinson)

Exhilaration is the Breeze (2:00)

It bloomed and dropt, a Single Noon – (2:50)

Bee! I’m expecting you! (1:08)

We Cover Thee – Sweet Face – (2:27)

Wild Nights – Wild Nights! (1:50)

What Inn is this (1:41)

I should not dare to leave my friend (3:02)

Still own thee – still thou art – (1:39)

Exhilaration – is within – (3:36)

Lullaby (3:07)

(Lyrics by Herschel Garfein)

About the Repertoire

In his liner notes for the recording, Gregg Kallor observes about Emily Dickinson, “A poem, for her, was no mere abstraction, but a vital force – a prayer, a comfort, an inspiration. She felt impelled to let others hear the ‘noiseless noise in the Orchard’ and her poems incite us to seek that noise – that essence – ourselves.”

About his response to the poetry of William Butler Yeats, Mr. Kallor has said: “Yeats’ lilting rhythms and strong cadences – the very sounds of his words – are captivating, but it is the vulnerability in his poems that I find so moving. Amidst the stronger, more Bard-like poems are moments of great tenderness.”

And Mr. Kallor writes about the opening and closing songs on the recording: “Christina Rossetti’s Song is a love letter at life’s end; Lullaby is a musical kiss to a life just beginning.”

About Gregg Kallor

Gregg Kallor was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1978, and raised in West Hartford, Connecticut. From the age of six, he studied classical and jazz piano, and started composing and improvising. In high school he performed in jazz ensembles and rock bands, appearing at The White House and touring Europe. Mr. Kallor studied with Kenny Barron at Rutgers University, and Fred Hersch at the New England Conservatory of Music. After moving to New York City, he continued piano study with Sophia Rosoff and composition with Herschel Garfein.

In March 2007, the Abby Whiteside Foundation presented Gregg Kallor’s official New York concert debut as pianist and composer in Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall. The performance featured the premiere of his Dickinson and Yeats song cycles (with Adriana Zabala), and solo works by Ginastera, Scriabin, Bach and Rachmaninoff. Harris Goldsmith wrote: “It took but a few impeccably shaped phrases to make it plain that Kallor is a formidably well-trained technician and a master of stylish proportion as well…This superb recital debut truly established a new, important voice in our musical annals.”

Again presented there by the Abby Whiteside Foundation in April 2009, he played a rich and innovative program -- classic repertoire by Brahms, Prokofieff and Rachmaninoff, improvisation, contemporary pieces (including music by Brad Mehldau and Elliott Smith) and the premiere of two original compositions. The Hartford Symphony Orchestra commissioned and premiered his “Fantasy Overture” in 2009.

In 2002 Gregg Kallor released his first recording, There’s a Rhythm, with his jazz trio (bassist Chris Van Voorst Van Beest and drummer Kendrick Scott). Exhilaration is his second recording.

More information is available on Mr. Kallor’s website:

About Adriana Zabala

Mezzo-soprano Adriana Zabala recently joined the Minnesota Opera in the title role of the American premiere of Jonathan Dove’s The Adventures of Pinocchio. For her role in Waiting for the Barbarians by Philip Glass, The New York Times hailed her as “a vivid, fearless presence,” and the Los Angeles Times called her “extraordinary - a young, vibrant mezzo.”

An avid recitalist, Ms. Zabala has appeared at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, and the Barns at Wolf Trap. She studied lieder as a Fulbright Scholar at the Mozarteum, and served for five years as the Artistic Director of the Southeastern Festival of Song. Ms. Zabala is an alumna of Louisiana State University and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. She has appeared in over 50 opera productions throughout the U.S. and abroad, and has been guest soloist on concerts with the Virginia Symphony and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, among many others.

Upcoming engagements include the role of Hansel with the Austin Lyric Opera, and a return engagement to the Opera Reina Sofia in Valencia, Spain, in productions of Carmen and Salome under Zubin Mehta.

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