As heard on WNYC NPR 93.9 FM on Jan. 15, 2009.
Julia Amisano is a singer and singing teacher. Ms. Amisano has performed numerous roles in Opera and Musical Theatre but Classical Art Song is one of her favorite genres.
This CD is a compilation of Ms. Amisano's favorite French, German, Norwegian, Italian and English art song from Rossini through the height of the Romantic period. The Norwegian pieces are highly unknown to audiences in the US and were obtained through national archives in Oslow. It is Ms. Amisano's sincere wish to revive Agathe Backer Grondahl's vocal music in the US. Some of her piano pieces can be found, although they too are obscure, but no vocal pieces.
Agathe Backer Grondahl was a contemporary and dear friend of Edvard Grieg and a master concert pianist and composer. She was a piano teacher and a Mother as well. Agathe's story is similar to that of Mrs. H.H.A Beach's (the composer of the English pieces on this cd) in that, because of familial duties, she was required to limit her career as a concert pianist short. Both composers' works on this cd are expert examples of their extraordinary talents as composers and the compositions themselves give us an idea of their virtuosity as pianists. Interestingly, they lived around the same time and though Agathe is twenty years older than Mrs. H.H.A Beach (also published as Amy Beach) and may or may not have had any knowledge of her, the way each creates rich, colorful chords that somehow convey the mood of the text simply and perfectly is a stylistic trait they share.
The difference between these great talents is that Mrs. Grondahl chose to stay in Norway and enjoy her fame at home instead of touring Europe to create a worldwide name for herself, while Mrs. H.H.A. Beach was requested by her husband, to stay in America, turn her hand to composition and limit her public piano performances to two per year after she married. Mrs. Grondahl seemed to be content with limited fame but Mrs. H.H.A Beach was not pleased at all to be kept in America. After her husband died in 1910 she promptly started touring Europe as a pianist and composer playing her original compositions. She created fame for herself worldwide and published many of her compositions. She spent time at the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire and in New York when in the states. She was the first president of the Society of American Women Composers and was instrumental in helping young musicians with their careers.
As a woman in the field of Classical music Ms. Amisano feels strongly about reviving passion for both Mrs.Grondahl’s and Mrs. Beach’s music vocal music. Though Ms. Amisano's first passion is for the songs themselves, it seems appropriate to highlight them in a setting amongst the worlds’ most famous song composers. They keep the great Debussy, Brahms, Strauss, Schubert and Rossini good company as Mrs.Grondahl's and Mrs. Beach's talents are as extraordinary.
The cd is entitled Green because the lush, romantic music makes Ms. Amisano think of the color green in every shade in every garden she has ever seen. Also, as green is the color of new life, Ms. Amisano hopes this cd will represent a new life for these great composers in the hearing of their wonderful works.
Ms. Amisano maintains a private music studio (Grace Studio) in Brooklyn, NY where she lives, and she is committed to performing and distributing beauty through music. Ms. Amisano is constantly involved in singing and teaching projects that foster the promotion of new music as well as old. Her latest project (July ’08) was a recording of some pieces from a new Opera being composed by Charles Younger. It is an Armenian Opera based on the text from The Song of Solomon in the Bible. Ms. Amisano has no religious preferences when it comes to music; she has only one rule: if it is beautiful she will sing it.