Tag Archives: western classical music

Superbly Crafted Songs of Lake Volta

Joseph Sheehan & Kinetic – Songs of Lake Volta (Ansonica, 2018)

Songs of Lake Volta is a fascinating project by Pittsburgh-based pianist, composer, and educator Joseph Sheehan. He recorded the album together with his superb contemporary jazz ensemble Kinetic and the all-female chamber music ensemble Kassia.

The material on Songs of Lake Volta consists of Ghanaian songs with original music by Sheehan. The result is a remarkable mix of Ghanaian melodies, contemporary jazz and classical music.

Kinetic features Joseph Sheehan on piano, the extraordinary vocalist Anqwenique Wingfield who sings in a variety of indigenous languages and incorporates classical, jazz, Ghanaian and soul elements in her vocal style. Another essential Kinetic member is guitarist Anthony Ambroso, who delivers an exquisite set of electric guitar parts influenced by jazz, blues and West African music. The rest of the band is an excellent rhythm section with Jason Rafalak on bass and Ryan Socrates on drums.

The Kassia Ensemble adds delightful classical music elements throughout the album. The members of the group include Dawn Posey on violin; Ashley Freeburn on violin; Maureen Conlon on violin; Si Yu on viola; and Katya Janpoladyan on cello.



Songs of Lake Volta is a beautifully-crafted album that illustrates a different side of African music through the prism of contemporary jazz and chamber music.

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The Final Album of an Australian Musical Icon

Gurrumul – Djarimirri [Child of the Rainbow] (Skinnyfish Music, 2018)

Djarimirri (Child of the Rainbow) is the final album recorded by Gurrumul Yununpingu (better known as Gurrumul), one of the most important and best-selling Indigenous artists from Australia. He passed away in 2017.

This recording is a fascinating combination of traditional songs and harmonized chants from the Yolngu aboriginal people of northeast Australia (Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory) and European chamber music.

Gurrumul delivered all the vocals in two aboriginal languages: Dhaŋu and Dhuwala. He was joined by a symphonic orchestra with arrangements by Erkki Veltheim with Michael Hohnen and Gurrumul. The cyclical, minimalist symphonic arrangements have similarities to the work of Philip Glass and Kronos Quartet.



The CD version is beautifully-packaged with traditional aboriginal artwork by Barrampani Yununpingu.

Djarimirri is a beautiful-crafted work of contemporary Australian music where Australian aboriginal traditional culture meets modern classical music.

Buy Djarimirri [Child of the Rainbow]


Masterful String Intensity by Kittel & Co.

Kittel & Co. – Whorls (Compass Records, 2018)

Whorls is the debut album of a superb string band led by fiddler Jeremy Kittel, who was a member of the renowned Turtle Island Quartet. The ensemble features 5 talented musicians who deliver an exquisite mix of American and Celtic roots music, jazz and classical music.

The majority of the tracks on Whorls are instrumental, showcasing the instrumentalists’ virtuosity, improvisatory skills and melodic creativity. Mesmerizing vocals are featured on two tracks, provided by Kittel and Sarah Jarosz, who adds spellbinding ethereal harmonies.

The lineup on Whorls includes Jeremy Kittel on violin, viola and vocals; Josh Pinkham on mandolin; Quinn Bachand on guitar; Nathaniel Smith on cello and organ; and Simon Chrisman on hammered-dulcimer. Guest: Sarah Jarosz on vocals.

Whorls is a masterfully-crafted with stellar violin, cello, mandolin, guitar and hammered dulcimer performances.

Buy Whorls


Artist Profiles: Camerata Romeu

Camerata Romeu

Camerata Romeu is a renowned all-female chamber music ensemble founded in 1993 by the Fundación Pablo Milanes. It’s led by Zenaida Romeu, one of the world’s few women conductors. Zenaida was born into a family of Cuban performers and composers spanning several generations.

They play everything from folk music and Mozart to fiery renditions of a new Cuban music using classical European form, yet drawing on the popular rhythms of the island taken from Africa, Spain, and indigenous cultures of Latin America.

Camerata Romeu has developed a unique sound that thills audiences in small Cuban towns, playing to packed houses in the United States and Europe.


La Bella Cubana: New Classical Cuban Music (1996)
Cervantes (1999)
Cuba Mía (Bis Music, 2001)
Danza De Las Brujas (Bis Music, 2005)
Raigal (Colibrí, 2006)
Tampa Habana Oslo – En Vivo (Bis Music, 2007)
La Bella Cubana (Bis Music, 2007)
Non Divisi – Roberto Valera y Camerata Romeu (2008)
Saudações, with Egberto Gismonti (ECM, 2009)
Habanera, with Di Giusto (Naive, 2011)


Artist Profiles: Arturo Sandoval

Arturo Sandoval – Photo by Manny Iriarte

Arturo Sandoval was born in Artemisa, a small village in the province of Havana, Cuba on November 6, 1949. Arturo started playing music at age 13 in the village band, where he learned the basics of music theory and percussion. After playing many instruments, he finally settled on the trumpet. As a child Sandoval had little exposure to Jazz. In a 1993 interview with Down Beat he commented, “The only thing I used to hear was traditional Cuban music, what we call “son”, which was played by a septet with a trumpet and bongos.” But one fateful day, a fellow trumpeter played him a record by Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker that turned his life around. It was love at first listen!

In 1964, he began three years of serious classical trumpet studies at the Cuban National School of Arts and by the age of 16, he earned a place in the country’s all-star national band. By this time, he was totally immersed in Jazz with Dizzy Gillespie his idol. Drafted into the military in 1971, Sandoval was able to play with the Orquesta Cubana de Musica Moderna and continued his daily practice regimen, an absolute must for trumpeters. After his discharge, he co-founded Irakere, which became Cuba’s most important Jazz ensemble, with saxophonist Paquito D’Rivera and pianist Chucho Valdés. They quickly became a worldwide sensation, and their appearance at the 1978 Newport Jazz Festival in New York introduced them to American audiences, and resulted in a recording contract with Columbia Records. But Arturo was in search of new musical possibilities and he left the group in 1981 to form his own band. He continued to tour worldwide with his group, playing a unique blend of Latin music and Jazz, and also as a classical trumpeter, performing with the BBC Symphony in London and the Leningrad Symphony in the former Soviet Union.

Sandoval’s talent has led him to associations with many great musicians, but perhaps the most important was with Dizzy Gillespie, a longtime proponent of Afro-Cuban music, whom Sandoval calls his spiritual father. The two musicians met in Cuba in 1977 when Gillespie was playing impromptu gigs throughout the Caribbean with saxophonist Stan Getz: “I went to the boat to find him. I’ve never had a complex about meeting famous people. If I respect somebody, I go there and try to meet them.” Because of the political situation in Cuba, the country was isolated from American musicians for nearly twenty years and during this first trip back,

Dizzy wanted to visit the black neighborhoods where musicians play guaguanco and rumba in the street. Sandoval offered to take Gillespie around in his car, and only later that night when he took the stage with Gillespie did Sandoval reveal himself as a musician. Their friendship remained strong until Dizzy’s passing in 1992. Both men continued to play and record together regularly. It was while touring with Gillespie’s Grammy Award-winning United Nation Orchestra in Rome in 1990 that Sandoval requested political asylum. Thanks to the efforts of Dizzy and then Vice-President Dan Quayle, Sandoval was able to resettle in Miami. He became a full professor at Florida International University and soon recorded his American debut Flight To Freedom on GRP. Arturo was featured on Dizzy’s Grammy winning Live At Festival Hall recording with the United Nation Orchestra in 1992 and later that year, he did his second GRP album, I Remember Clifford, his tribute to trumpet legend Clifford Brown. His other GRP recordings include: Dream Come True, a collaboration with Michel Legrand, the Grammy winning Danzón, Arturo Sandoval and The Latin Train, and his most recent, Swingin’. Like Wynton Marsalis, Arturo has a parallel career as a classical performer. His recording, The Classical Album, features trumpet concertos by Hummel and Mozart as well as his own Concerto For Trumpet and Orchestra. He continues to perform with symphonic orchestras worldwide as well as conduct clinics for eager students.

Arturo has lectured at the Conservatoire de Paris, the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in the Soviet Union, the University of California Santa Barbara, the University of Miami, the University of Wisconsin, Purdue University, and at many other institutions all over the planet. Currently, he holds a full professorship at Florida International University in Miami, where he resides with his wife and son. Arturo has also written and performed on several film soundtracks including “The Perez Family”, “The Mambo Kings”, and “Havana”. Like all musicians, Arturo Sandoval spends most of his time on the road. When asked about having such a rich life in music, he reports that “I’m blessed. Can [you] imagine making your living doing what you love? I came from a very poor family from the middle of nowhere and could never imagine I would be able to do the things I have done. God has been good to me.”


To a Finland Station with Dizzy Gillespie (Pablo, 1982)
Breaking the Sound Barrier, 1983)
No Problem (Jazz House, 1986)
Tumbaito (Messidor, 1986)
Straight Ahead (Jazz House, 1988)
Flight to Freedom (GRP, 1991)
I Remember Clifford (GRP, 1992)
Dream Come True with Michel Legrand (GRP, 1993)
Danzón (GRP, 1993)
Cubano 1994)
The Classical Album (RCA, 1994)
Swing Love (Babacan, 1995)
Concerto (Babacan, 1995)
Arturo Sandoval & the Latin Train (GRP, 1995)
Swingin’ (GRP, 1996)
Hot House (N-Coded, 1998)
Americana (N-Coded, 1999)
Ronnie Scott’s Jazz House (DCC, 2000)
For Love or Country, The Arturo Sandoval Story (Jellybean, 2001)
L. A. Meetings (Cubop, 2001)
My Passion for the Piano (Columbia, 2001)
From Havana With Love 2003)
Trumpet Evolution (Westwind, 2003)
Live at the Blue Note (Half Note, 2005)
Rumba Palace (Telarc, 2007)
A Time for Love (Concord Jazz, 2010)
Dear Diz – Every Day I Think of You (Concord Jazz, 2012)
At Middleton film score (Perseverance, 2014)
Eternamente Manzanero with Jorge Calandrelli (Perseverance, 2014)


Artist Profiles: Xu Ke

Xu Ke

Xu Ke was born in 1960 in Nanjing, China. He received his B.M. in 1982 with honor from the Department of National Music at the Central Conservatory of Beijing, where he studied under the erhu master Mr. Yusong Lan. He was the principal Erhu player of the China National Traditional Orchestra in 1983.

In 1986, he toured the United States as the music director of a good-will Chinese music delegation. His solo debut performance in 1987 with the China National Traditional Orchestra in Beijing Concert Hall caused a great sensation in China, prompting the media to dub him a genius Erhu player.

Since 1987, he has been performing as a soloist with many orchestras throughout the world. The superb technique, deep understanding and! exciting interpretation of the erhu repertoire has earned Xu Ke an international following.

Xu Ke is the first erhu master in the world to record under the RCA label. he participated in the album Something ~ RCA Artists Meet The Beatles. He also received a platinum disc award from the Hong Kong recording industry in 1992.

Invited by Yo-Yo Ma, Mr. Xu participated in the Silk Road Project in July 2000 at the Tanglewood Music Center. Xu Ke joined with Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble for an Asian tour to perform at Hong Kong Arts Festival, Beijing, Shanghai, and Taipei in March 2001. He was also the artistic director of Silk Road Music concert in the 17th Tokyo Summer Festival.

Xu Ke has released solo and ensemble albums, including classical music played by Erhu, Cello, Piano.


Maiden Mo Chou – A Fantasia (Pacific Audio/Video Co., 1988)
Song of the Birds (Sony Japan Family Club, 1997)
Sweetie (BMG Japan, 1999)
A String of Melodies (BMG Pacific, 1991)
The Yellow River/The Butterfly Lovers (BMG Pacific, 1992)
Melodie Favorite Violin Showpieces Performed on Erhu (BMG Victor, 1992)
My Way rhu Favorite Collection (BMG Victor, 1994)
Wind and Rhythm/Erhu Concertos (BMG Victor, 1994)
Zigeunerweisen-Erhu Classical Favorites (BMG Victor, 1996)
Elegy – Erhu Solo (BMG Victor, 1996)
Lullaby (BMG Japan, 1997)
Liebesfreud (BMG Japan, 1997)
Erhu Favorite Chinese Pieces (BMG Japan, 2001)
Erhu Favorite European Tunes (BMG Japan, 2001)
Horse Racing (XUA Records, 2003)
Liebesleid (XUA Records, 2004)
Think of Chinese Music of the New Era (XUA Records, 2004)
Xu Ke (XUA Records, 2005)
Preghiera (XUA Records, 2009)
Romance (XUA Records, 2009)
Le Rêve – Erhu Classical Favorites (XUA Records)


Artist Profiles: Min Xiao-Fen

Min Xiao-Fen

Min Xiao-Fen is a virtuoso on the pipa. She was a pipa soloist for the Nanjing, National Music Orchestra, and was winner of numerous Pipa competitions throughout China.

Known for her virtuosity and fluid style, she has received acclaim for her classical, contemporary and Jazz performances. Min’s solo recording, The Moon Rising was hailed by BBC Music Magazine as one of the best CDs of 1996. Her recording Viper – Improvisations with Derek Bailey was one of the Wire’s albums of the Year in 1998. She also premiered Tan Dun’s Peony Pavilion, an opera with director Peter Sellars.

Min emigrated to the United States in 1992.


The Moon Rising (Cala, 1996)
Spring River Flower Moon Night (Asphodel Records, 1997)
Zhou, L.: 8 Chinese Folk Songs / Poems From Tang / Soul (The Flowing Stream – Chinese Folk Songs and Tone Poems) (Delos, 1998)
With Six Composers (Avant, 1998)
The Floating Box (New World Records, 2005)
Huang, Ruo: Drama Theater Nos. 2-4 / String Quartet No. 1, “The 3 Tenses” (Naxos, 2009)
Dim Sum (Blue Pipa, 2012)
Mao, Monk and Me (2017)


Artist Profiles: Olivier Demers

Olivier Demers

Olivier Demers is an accomplished violin player and multi-instrumentalist with a history in classical and Quebecois folk music. He has performed with L’Orchestre des Jeunes Laval-Laurentides as well as many chamber music ensembles, and, in addition, has sung with the Chorale de la Basilisque Notre-Dame de Montreal.

Olivier also has freelanced with the award-winning French-Canadian band La Bottine Souriante, and toured in Belgium with Musa Dieng Kala, from Senegal. He has participated in numerous recordings.

In 2001, he teamed up with Nicolas Boulerice to produce a duo recording, which was the genesis of acclaimed Quebecois band Le Vent du Nord.


Le vent du nord est toujours fret…, with Nicolas Boulerice (Roues et archets, 2001)
Maudite Moisson! (Borealis Records, 2003)
Les amants du Saint-Laurent (Borealis Records, 2005)
Dans les airs (Borealis Records, 2007)
Mesdames et Messieurs (Borealis Records, 2008)
La part du feu (Borealis Records, 2009)
Symphonique (Radio-Canada disque, 2010)
Tromper le Temps (Borealis Records, 2012)
Têtu (Borealis Records, 2015)


Artist Profiles: Paulo Bellinati

Artist Profiles: Paulo Bellinati was born September 22, 1950 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. He has long been recognized as one of Brazil’s top contemporary guitarists and compozser as well. John Williams, Badi Assad, Cristina Azurna, The Assad Duo, The Strano Sisters, Shinichi Fukuda, Timothy Kain, Eduardo Isaac, Ricardo Cobo, The Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, and Carlos Barbosa-Lima are among the list of world class performers playing and recording his music.

In a contemporary approach to musical folklore, Bellinati presents the various musical styles of Brazil including Lundu, Modinha, Schottisch, Seresta. Maxixe, Baiao. Maracatu, Frevo, and Xaxado, and recreates them using all of the resources available to the modern guitar composer.


The Guitar Works of Garoto (GSP, 1991),
Guitares du Bresil (GHA, 1991)
Serenata – Choros & Waltzes of Brazil (GSP, 1993)
Afro-Sambas (GSP, 1996)
Lira Brasileira (GSP, 1996)
Genuinamente Brasileiro (Movie Play, 1999)
New Choros of Brazil (Acoustic Music Records, 2007)
A Felicidade (GSP, 2009)
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000003WFQ?ie=UTF8&tag=musidelmund-20&camp=1789&linkCode=xm2&creativeASIN=B000003WFQPingue Pongue, with Cristina Azuma (Delira Música, 2011)


Artist Profiles: Anima


Anima – Musica Mundana Humana Et Instrumentalis Ensemble has been performing since 1992, mixing the simplicity of popular culture and the refinement of classical culture. The repertoire is based on research of Brazilian music of oral tradition – folk and popular-, European music written between the 12th and 15th centuries, and folk songs from different parts of the world.

By listening and choosing a number of works and researching a number of instruments the group draws a parallel of contrasting cultures and expressions. In 1993, Anima was the winner of the prize “Premio Estimulo” awarded by the Department of Culture of the City of Campinas, Sao Paulo, for the concert.” ESPIRAL DO TEMPO”, later performed in cities around Brazil.

In 1994, with three other ensembles for Brazilian music, they participated in the CD “Trilhas “that received two nominations for the prize “Premio Sharp 94”. Anima’s programs are originated out of collective creation, each rehearsal is a laboratory for composing and improvising. They bring to light ancient roots of popular music and popular language existing in ancient music, establishing Anima’s own sonority.


Isa Taube – vocals

After graduating in conducting by UNICAMP (SP) -Universidade Estadual de Campinas (State University of Campinas), was awarded scholarship from Berklee College of Music (Boston, U.S.), and specialized in singing. In 1996 she recorded her first solo CD performing popular Brazilian and North American music. She works on ancient European music, having performed with The ensemble Pró-Música Antiga de Campinas.

Ivan Vilela – Brazilian ten-string guitar

Graduated in composition from UNICAMP (SP), where he is finishing a post graduation course. Vilela composes music for theater and movies and is the author of the regional thematic opera “Cheiro de Mato e de Chao.” He has been researching the cultural expressions of Minas Gerais (BR) for twenty years. Vilela composed and directed a number of records for renowned guitar players and ensembles linked to popular culture. He has also recorded music for children.

Recordings :

Hortela, with the singer Priscila Stephan (1985)

Trilhas, with the ensemble Trem de Corda (1994)

Paisagens (1998)

João Carlos Dalgalarrondo – percussion

Studied classical percussion wifh ClaudioStephan arid Luis Anunciao. In France, studied classical percussion with Gaston Sylvestre and’ Iranian drum (Zarb)with Bruno Calla and Djamchid Chemirani at the Rueil-Malmaison Conservatory, and participated in the ensemble Pays-Paisage, dedicated to research contemporary-and traditional music. Was member of the Municipal Symphonic Orchestra of Campinas (SP) and teacher of rhythm and percussion’ at UNICAMP. Soloist and chamber performer of ancient, jazz, and popular music. Author, director Mid interpreter of musical-theater, as well as composer and art manager. Winner of’ the prize ‘”Primeiro Firestone de Musica Criativa” for one of his plays. Often performs in Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Spain, France and the U.S.

Luiz Henrique Fiaminghi – Brazilian fiddles

Studied violin with Paulo Bosisio and Ayrton Pinto (UNESP/SP) – State University of Sao Paulo). Bachelor of Arts in composition and conducting from UNICAMP/SP. Was violinist for the Municipal Symphonic Orchestra of Campinas. Awarded in 1987 a scholarship by CNP – Conselho Nacional de Pesquisas (National Research Council) to study baroque violin and baroque music interpretation in Holland.

Studied at the Conservatory of Rotterdam (Teacher Marie Leonhardt)and at the Conservatory of Utrecht (Teacher Alda Stuurop). Stayed there until 1992. Has performed in a number of baroque orchestras, including the European ‘Community Baroque Orchestra. Was violin teacher at the State University of Santa Catarina, from 1993 to 1995. Has worked as visiting teacher at important courses and festivals. Member of Nucleo Talea of medieval music and the baroque music ensemble Harmonia Universalis.

Patricia Gaiti – harpsichord

Post graduated in harpsichord by UNIGAMP (State University of Campinas) in 1997. Participated in a number of master classes for ancient music taught by Elisa Freixo, Roberto de Regina, Helena Jank, Edmundo Hora, Christophe Rousset (France), Jacques Ogg and Chris Farr (Holland). Member of the ensemble Harmonia Universalis for baroque music. Researches music therapy to psychotic patients. Participated in the Duo Bem Temperado in the CD “Trilhas”, in 1994 and in 1998 launched a CD “Mexericos da Rabeca”, -with songs for fiddle and harpsichord by Jose Eduardo Gramani Valeria Bittar – recorders Studied recorder in Brazil with Joao Dias Carrasqueira.

Graduated in recorder at the Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts of Vienna, Austria, being awarded scholarship by “Alban Berg Stiftung”. Participated in a number of master classes focused on ancient and contemporary music, in Germany, Liechtenstein, Holland and Italy, also studied with recorder player Kees Boeke (Holland/Italy). Member of chamber music groups in Brazil and abroad, publishes books about classical music, contributed with Radio Cultura FM (SP) producing programs about ancient music, produced and participated in the CD “Espiraldo Tempo”. Member of the ensemble, Harmonia Universalis of baroque music and Nucleo Talea of medieval music. Develops work on recorder interpretation together with corporal and breathing consciousness.


Espiral Do Tempo (1997)
Especiarias (2000)
Amares (2003)
Espelho (2006)
Donzela Guerreira