|For Immediate Release:
On Tuesday, January 13, 2015,the Baroque and Classical ensemble the Sebastians release the inaugural album from their newly minted in-house label, Soundspell Productions, Night Scenes from the Ospedale.
(Click here to download or stream the album. Password: vivaldiproject.)
The album (available both as both a CD and a digital download) features a dynamic pairing; a 2011 suite of the same name from composer Robert Honstein, written for and interleaved with selections from Vivaldi’s L’Estro Armonico.
Night Scenes from the Ospedale
With Robert Honstein’s Night Scenes from the Ospedale
and selections from Antonio Vivaldi’s L’Estro Armonico
Honstein: 1. Barcarolle
Vivaldi: Concerto in A minor, RV 522, op.3, no.8
for two violins, strings and basso continuo
Honstein: II. Lamento
Vivaldi Concerto in G major, RV 310, op.3, no.3
for violin, strings, and basso continuo
Honstein: III. Notturno
Vivaldi Concerto in B minor, RV 580, op.3, no.10
for four violins, cello, strings, and basso continuo
Honstein: IV. Bisbigli
Vivaldi Concerto in D major, RV 549, op.3, no.1
for four violins, cello, strings, and bass continuo
Honstein: V. Prima l’alba
The Sebastians commissioned Night Scenes from the Ospedale from Robert Honstein – a Yale educated, Brooklyn and Boston based composer – in 2011 to mark the 300th anniversary of Vivaldi’s L’Estro Armonico, a set of twelve concerti grossi published in 1711. These works, concertos for one, two, three and four violins, are acknowledged as both masterpieces of the genre and widely influential on the development of western music in the 18th century and beyond.
Charged with the task of creating a companion suite, Robert Honstein began his work with an examination of the specific location of Vivaldi’s home and work environment, the Ospedale della Pietà.
Honstein explains: For nearly forty years Antonio Vivaldi worked at the Ospedale della Pietà directing music services, performing, composing and overseeing the musical education of orphan girls. That some of the most enduring pieces of western classical music may have had their origins at the hands of these young women performing in obscurity, behind latticed metal grilles in a small Venetian church, is to me an incredible and inspiring bit of history.
When Daniel [S. Lee, founder and director of the Sebastians] asked me to compose music to accompany selections from L’Estro Armonico I found myself drawn to this story. My imagination drifted to the Ospedale and I began to wonder what it would have been like to live and work in such a place. What did the musicians do when they weren’t playing? What did their world sound like, look like, feel like?
With this in mind, I set out to explore the nocturnal world of the Ospedale. The scenes - Barcarolle, Lamento, Notturno, Bisbigli, and Prima L’Alba - take the listener on a night’s walk through the Venetian building, filled with the sounds of creaking wood, fragments of a distant song, lapping water against the canals, an orphan crying, whispers in hallways, and the stillness just before dawn.”
By inverting Vivaldi’s instrumentation, bringing the continuo instruments to the foreground, using the violins to create a background texture, and by employing a range of extended bowing techniques, Honstein creates a shimmering sonic, nocturnal reflection of the sunlit Ospedale in Vivaldi’s music. Night Scenes from the Ospedale explores both these worlds, brought to vivid life with verve and expressive expertise by the Sebastians.
The album’s cover art and liner notes use images of Venice’s canals, and were designed by Honstein’s wife, Laura Grey, Assistant Professor of Art and Graphic Design at Boston University,
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Celebrated for his “roiling, insistent orchestral figuration” (New York Times) and “glittery, percussive pieces” (Toronto Globe and Mail), composer Robert Honstein (b. 1980) is a composer of orchestral, chamber, and vocal music.
His works have been performed throughout North America by ensembles such as the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, the New York Youth Symphony, the Albany Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble ACJW, Ensemble Dal Niente, the Mivos quartet, the Del Sol Quartet, Concert Black, TIGUE, and the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, among others. He has received an Aaron Copland Award, multiple ASCAP awards and other honors from SCI, Caarnegie Hall, and New Music USA. He has also received residencies at Copland House, the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center, I-Park, the Bang on a Can Summer Institute, and the Tanglewood Music Center.
Robert co-produces Fast Forward Austin, an annual marathon new music concert in Austin, TX and is a founding member of the New York based composer collective Sleeping Giant. Upcoming projects include commissions from cellist Ashley Bathgate, a consortium of pianists for a solo piano work, and a new work for Eighth Blackbird as part of a collaborative project with Sleeping Giant. In May 2014, New Focus Records released his debut album, the chamber cycle RE: You. He is also composer-in-residence, along with his Sleeping Giant colleagues, with the Albany Symphony Orchestra, as part of a Music Alive grant from New Music USA and the League of American Orchestras. He studied composition at the Yale School of Music with Martin Bresnick, Chris Theofanidis, and David Lang.
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The Sebastians are a dynamic and vital musical ensemble specializing in music of the baroque and classical eras. Lauded as “everywhere sharp-edged and engaging” (The New York Times), the Sebastians have also been praised for their “well-thought-out articulation and phrasing” (Early Music Review) and “elegant string playing… immaculate in tuning and balance” (Early Music Today).
Winners of the Audience Prize at the 2012 Early Music America Baroque Performance Competitions, the Sebastians were also finalists in the 2011 York International Early Music Competition and the 2011 Early Music America/Naxos Recording Competition. They have participated in the Carnegie Hall Professional Training Workshop with L’Arpeggiata, and have performed at Music Matters (LaGrua Center in Stonington, CT), Friends of Music at Pequot Library (Southport, CT), Juilliard in Aiken (Aiken, SC), in the Twelfth Night Festival and Concerts@One at Trinity Wall Street (New York, NY), and on the Early Music in Columbus series (Ohio).
The Sebastians performed over 35 concerts in the 2013–14 season, including performances of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas at the Connecticut Early Music Festival and Monteverdi’s Poppea with dell’Arte Opera Ensemble, and residencies at Connecticut College and the Avaloch Farm Music Institute.
In 2014–2015, the Sebastians continue for the third season as ensemble-in-residence at All Angels’ Church in New York City. In addition, their season includes collaborations with TENET, a production of Purcell’s Fairy Queen, four week-long engagements with acclaimed vocal ensemble Seraphic Fire in Miami, a performance on the Houston Early Music Series, and numerous performances in New York and Connecticut.
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