NOTES BY THE COMPOSER:
SONGBOOK FOR ANNAMARIA was composed before, during and immediately after the adoption of our daughter, Annamaria LaSalle Maggio. Each movement is based on an old popular tune that provides further insight into its meaning (e.g., the hard-driving work ethic of the railroad song, on which “…all the live long day” is based, suggests the round-the-clock duties of the parent). These songs are personal favorites of mine: some of them my parents sang to me when I was a child, and some of them I sang to Annamaria. The first movement, “we’re bound away…” tracks the excited beginnings of our journey into parenthood. The second movement, “when you wake…” is both a tender lullaby for Annamaria, and a gentle farewell to my grandmother, Marie Basili who slowly vanished from Alzheimer’s. “jimmy crack corn…” is a playful, intense scherzo; it was a favorite of my dad and his two brothers. “…all the live long day” is a passacaglia, whose repetitive rhythmic motion was inspired by the never-ending responsibilities and the boundless love I found in fatherhood.
RAIN AND ASH. In the summer of 2007, after 17 years of sharing our lives together, my partner and I held a civil union ceremony in a quiet courtyard near our home. We exchanged rings and vows in front of our seven-year-old daughter, our parents and siblings, aunts and uncles, nephews and nieces, cousins, and friends. It was the best day of my life… and it rained like I had never seen it rain before. Someone told me that evening that the rain was an omen of good luck. If so, it was short-lived; five days later, my father died suddenly of a heart attack. It was a profound loss for me. “Rain” opens with a dance-like arrangement of an old Neapolitan lullaby. The festive dance music returns three times, alternating with more lyrical sections; with each return, the festivities grow more and more jubilant. “Ash” begins with the violin sweetly recalling the Neapolitan lullaby, which is abruptly silenced by violent repeated chords. These “brutal” chords interrupt the music’s flow throughout the movement, appearing increasingly further apart; in between these interruptions the lullaby returns in various states (plaintive, distant, sweet, mysterious, wailing), yet never fully intact, permanently altered. It hovers in memory, always just out of reach. About halfway through the second movement, a new lullaby surfaces, “Skye Boat Song.” A tune that I’ve always found hauntingly beautiful, the boat song becomes a metaphor for the journey of grieving, and the acceptance of loss.
BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION ABOUT COMPOSER ROBERT MAGGIO
The music of Robert Maggio has been called "lyrical, passionate, melodic, and rhythmically charged" (American Record Guide). Hailed as a composer of music that is “smart, vital, and inventive” (Philadelphia Inquirer), Robert Maggio has created a substantial body of works in nearly every genre, each creating a unique connection between the composer’s “wondrously eclectic vocabulary” (New York Times) and the demands of a diverse body of commissions.
Published by Theodore Presser Company, Hickman Music Editions and Yelton Rhodes, Maggio’s music is currently recorded on the Albany, Summit and New World labels.
Maggio’s orchestral music has been performed by the Boston Pops, the Atlanta Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the Long Beach Symphony, the National Symphony Orchestra of Mexico, the Oakland East Bay Symphony, the Dallas/Fort Worth Symphony, the New York Youth Symphony and the Tampa Bay Youth Orchestra. His chamber and vocal/choral music has been commissioned and performed by the New York Festival of Song, Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors Festival, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Colorado Quartet (Arizona Friends of Chamber Music commission), Sanford Sylvan and David Breitman (Barlow commission), Detroit Chamber Winds, Meridian Arts Ensemble, Composers Inc., Network for New Music, Orchestra 2001 and the Choral Arts Society of Philadelphia.
In addition to composing for ballet, Maggio has created scores for numerous modern dance companies (Ballet X, Roxey Ballet, Stephen Pelton Dance Theater, Randy James Dance Works, Leah Stein and Dancers). In 1994, he was composer-in-residence at the American Dance Festival. He has composed songs and incidental music for professional theater productions, including those at Yale Repertory Theater, Philadelphia Theater Company, Peoples Light and Theater, and Shakespeare Santa Cruz.
Maggio has received awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Pew Fellowships in the Arts, the New Jersey and Pennsylvania Councils on the Arts and Meet the Composer.
A graduate of Yale and the University of Pennsylvania, Robert Maggio lives in Lambertville, New Jersey with his partner, the artist, Tony LaSalle, and their daughter Annamaria. He is a Professor and Chairman of the Department of Music Theory and Composition in the School of Music at West Chester University.