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Jean Oelrich
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Naxos to release new recording of Michael Daugherty's "Mount Rushmore," "Radio City" and "The Gospel according to Sister Aimee" - performed by Pacific Symphony

March 25, 2013

For the second time this season, Pacific Symphony has a new CD about to make its debut. The new album, scheduled to be released by Naxos on April 30, features music composed by one of the most commissioned, performed and recorded composers on the American concert-music scene today—Michael Daugherty—performed by Pacific Symphony, led by Music Director Carl St.Clair. The CD, featuring Pacific Chorale (Artistic Director John Alexander), includes Daugherty’s “Mount Rushmore,” “The Gospel According to Sister Aimee” and “Radio City”—all pieces commissioned by the Symphony and performed as world or U.S. premieres on the stage of the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in Orange County, Calif. This recording follows on the heels of the Symphony’s release last September on the record label Orange Mountain Music of the commissioned work performed by the orchestra, “The Passion of Ramakrishna,” by another of today’s leading composers, Philip Glass.

“Commissioned by Pacific Symphony, I have composed three new works which explore three icons of ‘The Greatest Generation,’ a turbulent period of adversity and achievement spanning the Great Depression of the 1930s through the Second World War,” says Daugherty. “Under the masterful baton of Music Director Carl St.Clair, the renowned Pacific Symphony is joined by Pacific Chorale, one of America’s greatest choirs, and Grammy® Award-winning organist Paul Jacobs in this wonderful new Naxos recording. The performances on this recording are thrilling and I am proud to be part of this historic collaboration.”

In February 2010, St.Clair led the orchestra and Pacific Chorale in the world premiere of “Mount Rushmore” for chorus and orchestra, commissioned by the Symphony for its American Composers Festival, “The Greatest Generation.” “Mount Rushmore” is a work based on the iconic monument that was carved during the Depression and left unfinished in 1941, which offers movements drawing from text of the related Presidents: George Washington (1732–1799), Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826), Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919) and Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865). It was a work inspired by The Greatest Generation notion of overcoming challenge and preserving democratic values, according to Daugherty, who served as the Symphony’s composer-in-residence throughout the 2010-11 season.

“The Gospel According to Sister Aimee,” a musical portrait of the rise, fall and redemption of Aimee Semple McPherson (1890-1944), the first important religious celebrity of the new mass-media era of the 1930s, was written for organ, brass and percussion. Featuring Grammy® Award-winning Paul Jacobs, the piece made its world premiere in February 2012, performed by the Symphony. Making its U.S. premiere as part of the same program was “Radio City,” a piece written for orchestra that is a musical fantasy based on Arturo Toscanni, who conducted the NBC Symphony Orchestra in radio broadcasts at Rockefeller Center in New York City during World War II.

“Our collaboration with Michael—one of America’s most important living composers—has been rewarding for all of us,” says Maestro St.Clair. “His works on this CD exemplify the breadth of his musical creativity and reflect his deep inner musical spirit. His capturing of Mount Rushmore is just perfect! And Maestro Toscanini was the teacher of my mentor, Dr. Walter Ducloux, which made our performances of ‘Radio City’ all the more personal to me. The fire and spirit of the great Italian conductor can be felt in every measure. This CD, down to every single note and word, is truly American. It reflects the American spirit and the inner character of music created by an American composer, conducted and performed by American musicians. It is something which gives us all a great sense of pride.”

The release of this latest CD represents the continuation of a recent slate of recordings under the Symphony’s American Music Recording Project, which launched with the release last September of the Glass CD. Three more recordings are due to be released over the next few years. These feature the music of more Symphony-commissioned works: William Bolcom’s “Songs of Lorca” and “Prometheus,” James Newton Howard’s “I Would Plant a Tree,” and Richard Danielpour’s “Toward a Season of Peace.”

About Michael Daugherty
Grammy® Award-winning composer Daugherty first came to international attention when his “Metropolis Symphony” was performed by the Baltimore Symphony at Carnegie Hall in 1994. Since that time, Daugherty’s music has entered the orchestral, band and chamber music repertoire and made him, according to the League of American Orchestras, one of the 10 most performed American composers of concert music today. In 2011, the Nashville Symphony’s Naxos recording of Daugherty’s Metropolis Symphony and Deus ex Machina was honored with three Grammy® Awards, including Best Classical Contemporary Composition. Born in 1954 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Daugherty is the son of a dance-band drummer and the oldest of five brothers, all professional musicians. In 1991, Daugherty joined the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre and Dance in Ann Arbor, Mich., where he is a mentor to many of today’s most talented young composers. Daugherty is also a frequent guest of professional orchestras, festivals, universities and conservatories around the world.

About Pacific Symphony
Pacific Symphony, led by Music Director Carl St.Clair, is the largest orchestra formed in the United States in the last 40 years, and is recognized as an outstanding ensemble making strides on both the national and international scene as well as in its own community of Southern California. Pacific Symphony offers moving musical experiences with repertoire ranging from the great orchestral masterworks to music from today’s most prominent composers, highlighted by the annual American Composers Festival and a series of multi-media concerts called by the annual American Composers Festival and a series of multi-media concerts called “Music Unwound.”

Pacific Symphony is dedicated to developing and promoting today’s composers and expanding the orchestral repertoire—illustrated through its many commissions and recordings, in-depth explorations of American artists and themes at the American Composers Festival. The Symphony’s innovative approaches to new works received the ASCAP Award for Adventuresome Programming in 2005 and 2010. In 2010, Pacific Symphony was named one of five orchestras profiled by the League of American Orchestras in a study on innovation.

Since 2006, the Symphony has performed in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, designed by Cesar Pelli with acoustics by Russell Johnson. In March 2006, the Symphony embarked on its first European tour—receiving an unprecedented 22 rave reviews.