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Michael Daugherty (b.1954): Mount Rushmore; Radio City; The Gospel According to Sister Aimee / Paul Jacobs, organ

Audio Samples

>Daugherty, Michael : Mount Rushmore, for chorus & orchestra
>Daugherty, Michael : Radio City
>     Symphonic Fantasy on Arturo Toscanini & the NBC Symphony Orchestra, for orchestra
>Daugherty, Michael : The Gospel According to Sister Aimee, for organ, brass & percussion

Album Summary

>Daugherty, Michael : Mount Rushmore, for chorus & orchestra
>Daugherty, Michael : Radio City
>Daugherty, Michael : The Gospel According to Sister Aimee, for organ, brass & percussion
Performer Conductor Ensembles Composer

Notes & Reviews:

GRAMMY Award-winning composer Michael Daugherty explores three icons of "The Greatest Generation", a turbulent period of adversity and achievement in the United States of America spanning the Great Depression of the 1930s through the Second World War. Mount Rushmore is a dramatic oratorio inspired by the monumental sculpture of four American presidents carved into the Black Hills of South Dakota. Radio City is a symphonic fantasy on the legendary Arturo Toscanini, who conducted the NBC Symphony Orchestra in live radio broadcasts heard by millions across America. The Gospel According to Sister Aimee is an organ concerto inspired by the rise, fall and redemption of religious celebrity Aimee Semple McPherson. 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.

American Record Guide, September/October 2013
More crowd-pleasing Americana by Michael Daugherty. Daugherty's debut on Argo back in the 90s had the title "American Icons", which has served him as his main topic for most of his career. This collection continues the concept with a fresh group of celebrities. Mount Rushmore (2010), for chorus and orchestra, is an homage to the presidents immortalized as sculptures embedded in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The words consist of passages from texts by the four presidents. Radio City (2011) is a "Symphonic Fantasy on Arturo Toscanini and the NBC Symphony". In three continuous movements, this is a vibrant essay in orchestral ingenuity and virtuosity. Opening with development of a motive from Verdi's Forza del Destino, the piece continues with a nostalgic central movement and concludes with a wild scherzo culminating with breathless power. The Gospel According to Sister Aimee (2012) for organ, brass, and percussion, is in honor of the 1930s Pentecostal celebrity. This is a new and already major orchestra. Daugherty becomes more impressive with every release. Don't miss this, even if you've had reservations about this composer in the past. Notes by Daugherty.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Orange County Performing Arts Center, Renée and Henry S.



Reviews

Americana Daugherty style!
One of Michael Daugherty's trademarks as a composer is his understandable fascination with American culture. Perhaps no composer since Copland has used the influence of American traditions or culture in their music; or at least how they view it. Daugherty's perspective is frequently a bit more "amused" or tongue-in-cheek than the overtly patriotic stance of Copland. It is clear that even in some of Daugherty's more outrageous peeks at Americana, such as the opera "Jackie O" or the "Metropolis Symphony", his view is admiration and pride but with just the occasional wink. Having said that, this new collection of Americana inspired works represents everything from the fairly "devout" to the fascination with the truly unusual; and it is a most impressive trio of works. "Mount Rushmore" for chorus and orchestra takes its cure from the iconic four president's faces carved into the Black Hills by Gutzon Borglum. Each movement uses a blend of music endemic to the time of the president's term and/or some of their words and thoughts. One of the more interesting movements, in fact, is the superimposition of the hymn "Rock of Ages" over some words about the grandeur of nature delivered by Theodore Roosevelt at the Grand Canyon. (Borglum chose the faces he wanted to commemorate because of their contributions to the union and to expanding America. Over the years, various historians debate whether or not TR was one of our greatest leaders; Washington and Lincoln remain unquestioned) The net effect of this piece is simply wonderful! This makes an inspiring, grand and only somewhat quirky musical portrait of this monument and the four men, themselves. The 'symphonic fantasy' "Radio City" in honor of Toscanini and the NBC Symphony is a very fun, majestic and somewhat reminiscent look at the Italian conductor who used the power of telecommunication to bring classical music to the masses during a time of great global unrest. Interesting "Radio City..." was co-commissioned by the Pacific Symphony and the Italian conductor Enzo Restagno on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy. The three movements are fantasy depictions of Toscanini's arrival in America with shades of Verdi in the sonic background, his sense of wonder and power of New York and his new role in it, but missing his beloved war-torn Italy and, finally, a sonic fancy "on the air" envisioning both the maestro's mercurial temper and his command of the air waves. This music is Daugherty at his best blend of tribute and imagination. Appropriately, this collection closes with the "wildest" work herein: "The Gospel According to Sister Aimee" in reference to the Depression-era Pentecostal preacher Aimee Semple McPherson. Daugherty cleverly captures the frenzy of the times in southern California during Prohibition as he takes us through her wild, guilt inducing preaching ("Knock Out the Devil") to the bizarre true escapade wherein Semple allegedly drowned and then 'miraculously' re-emerges in Mexico to her self-redeeming efforts selling war bonds, saving her soul and restoring America's view of her as one their most beloved, if not outrageous, evangelists. (Aimee Semple and her way larger than life persona by all accounts begat figures such as Marjo Gortner, Jim Baker and the Sinclair Lewis novel "Elmer Gantry") I love Michael Daugherty's music for its bold, fresh, unique and occasionally bizarre sound but also for the fact that most of his works do also lend themselves to a mini history lesson; almost a snapshot of the very cultural snippets that the composer such clearly loves but finds bizarrely intriguing. If you are a Daugherty fan, as I am, this new recording is a must. Carl St. Clair and the Pacific Symphony are a treasure and always provide wonderful, dedicated performances. If you have never even heard any Michael Daugherty; this is a perfect place to start.
Submitted on 05/22/13 by Dan Coombs 
On the Air
Sometimes, the clever titles of Michael Daugherty prove to be more fascinating than the compositions they accompany. However, in this particular instance the composer scores a knockout. To be sure the ubiquitous thematic interpolation, requisite parody and burlesque, all features of Daugherty’s eclectic style are apparent throughout Mount Rushmore, but they are used judiciously allowing the considerable merits of the music to emerge unscathed. The result is a 32 minute journey which is simultaneously intriguing and strangely affective. Radio City, a tribute to Toscanini, is held firmly aloft by its sincere lyricism, rhythmic vitality and broad timbrel palette. No doubt, the Maestro would be scowling in affirmation. The Gospel According to Sister Almee is in essence, a 20 minute organ concerto infused with all sorts of nifty coloristic and dynamic touches. It’s sort of like the Poulenc Organ Concerto as reimagined by ELP seasoned with a dash of Ivesian irony. Performance and sonics are just fine. The extensive performing forces are realistically arrayed with the organ pickup being particularly visceral. Detailed, well written liner notes by Michael Daugherty complete the package. Suggested track samples: #4 Abraham Lincoln; #7 On the Air and #8 Knock Out the Devil. A valuable addition to the burgeoning catalog of American Music as documented by Naxos.
Submitted on 07/22/13 by conway 
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Works Details

>Daugherty, Michael : Mount Rushmore, for chorus & orchestra
  • Conductor: Carl St. Clair
  • Ensemble: Pacific Symphony
  • Notes: Orange County Performing Arts Center, Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, Segerstrom Center for (02/04/2010-02/06/2010)
  • Running Time: 31 min. 11 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2010

>Daugherty, Michael : Radio City :: Symphonic Fantasy on Arturo Toscanini & the NBC Symphony Orchestra, for orchestra
  • Conductor: Carl St. Clair
  • Notes: Orange County Performing Arts Center, Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, Segerstrom Center for (02/23/2012-02/25/2012)
  • Running Time: 25 min. 35 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2011

>Daugherty, Michael : The Gospel According to Sister Aimee, for organ, brass & percussion
  • Performer: Paul Jacobs (Organ)
  • Conductor: Carl St. Clair
  • Notes: Orange County Performing Arts Center, Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, Segerstrom Center for (02/23/2012-02/25/2012)
  • Running Time: 19 min. 41 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2012