The concept for "The Gift" was formed by oboist Brad Smith with a dream of bringing his love for the oboe and english horn and the music of Christmas together. Wanting to share his dream with others, he called upon his friend, composer James Prigmore, who shared a common goal of creating something beautiful. Work began choosing the repertoire and defining the ideas and feelings they wanted to express though their music. The final product is a collection of eleven songs, some with full orchestration and others a more intimate approach with only a few solo instruments. To bring these songs to life, Brad enlisted the talents of another good friend, conductor Daniel Hege. Together, Brad, James and Dan spent many hours fine tuning their ideas about what they wanted the music to convey. In Brad's words, "There was an immediate rapport among us. Our musical ideas were so similar that it made the entire process a magical experience and I believe that can be heard in the music."
Visit the Brad Smith Website:
"THE GIFT is superb holiday listening" "An instant classic"
"A Gift of pure musical joy"
(Salt Lake Tribune)
"Richly rewarding and refined" "A contemporary classical masterpiece!"
Brad Smith currently holds the position of Oboe and English Horn with the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra.
Prior to moving to Kalamazoo in 1997 Brad was Principal Oboe with the Ballet West Orchestra and the Utah Chamber Orchestra in Salt Lake City, Utah for eight seasons. He has also performed with the Utah Symphony Orchestra, the Utah Opera Company Orchestra, the Las Vegas Symphony, the Aspen Music Festival, the National Repertory Orchestra, the Anchorage Symphony, the Windsor Symphony (CANADA) and the Grand Rapids Symphony. As a studio musician he has played for numerous television and feature film scores and his Christmas album "The Gift" has received both critical and commercial success throughout the United States and Canada.
At the age of thirteen Brad began studies with Holly Gornik, English Horn Soloist with the Utah Symphony Orchestra (Holly has a wonderful CD, "Gabriel's Oboe" here at CD Baby. Please take a listen!). He has also worked with John deLancie, Alex Klein, Ray Still, Richard Killmer, Tom Stacy and Shelley Heron.
Brad shares his life with his wife Wendy Rose, professor of Bassoon at Western Michigan University, and their son Alexander.
For more that thirty years James Prigmore has been the Musical Director, Conductor and Composer in Residence for the Pioneer Theater Company in Salt Lake City, Utah. As a composer and arranger in Hollywood he composed numerous scores for movies and television in addition to over five hundred original pieces he has written since the age of fourteen, with an emphasis on music for piano, voice and theater.
Daniel Hege is widely recognized as one of America's finest young conductors, earning critical acclaim for his fresh interpretations of the standard repertoire and for his commitment to creative programming.
Mr. Hege was named Music Director of the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra in April 1999, and is, concurrently, the Music Director of the Newton Mid-Kansas Symphony Orchestra. His previous positions include Music Director of the Haddonfield Symphony (New Jersey), Associate Conductor of the Kansas City Symphony, Music Director of the Encore Chamber Orchestra in Chicago and Music Director of the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra, where he was twice honored by the American Symphony Orchestra League for innovative programming. In June 2001, he finished a six-year tenure with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, where he held the titles of Assistant, Associate and Resident Conductor.
In the spring of 1990, Mr. Hege began making headlines when he won a national conducting competition and became Music Director of the Young Musicians Foundation (YMF) Debut Orchestra in Los Angeles. He was appointed Assistant Conductor of the Pacific Symphony Orchestra and Director of Instrumental Music for the Orange County High School of the Arts in the spring of 1991. He also served as Principal Conductor of Disney's Young Musicians Symphony Orchestra, where he worked with such artists as Henry Mancini, John Williams, Branford Marsalis, Doc Severinsen and Dudley Moore, leading concerts televised nationally by the Disney Channel to more than 50 million viewers.
Under the artistic leadership of Mr. Hege, the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra has released its first recordings in over 20 years: a live Classics Concert CD of works by Verdi, Barber, Debussy, Respighi and James Johnson, released in 2000, and the SSO's latest release, Holiday Pops. Mr. Hege has several other recordings to his credit, including a disc of works by Adolphus Hailstork with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the Morgan State University Choir, and a CD on the Cedille label, which was nominated for a 1998 NPR Heritage Award, Violin Concertos by Black Composers of the 18th and 19th Centuries, with the Encore Chamber Orchestra of Chicago. He also recorded THE GIFT, a collection of Christmas arrangements on Woodland Records, with oboist Brad Smith.
Mr. Hege resides in Jamesville, New York, with his wife Katarina and their three daughters.