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Aug. 20: Apollo Chamber Players Releases With Malice Toward None on Azica Records

July 7, 2021 | By Katy Salomon
Account Director, Morahan Arts and Media

PR Contact: 
Katy Salomon | Morahan Arts and Media
katy@morahanartsandmedia.com | 863.660.2214

Apollo Chamber Players Releases
With Malice Toward None 

Featuring Globally-Inspired Music by J. Kimo
Williams, Pamela Z, Christopher Theofanidis and
Mark Wingate, Komitas, and Eve Beglarian

Out August 20, 2021 on Azica Records
Physical Review Copies Available Upon Request

Watch Williams’ With Malice Toward None

Watch Beglarian’s We Will Sing One Song

 “performs with rhythmic flair and virtuosity” – The Strad 



New York, NY (July 7, 2021) — On Friday, August 20, 2021, Apollo Chamber Players releases their fifth studio albumWith Malice Toward None, on Azica Records. The album is a breathtaking collection of globally-inspired compositions and collaborations, with each composer sharing their own personal interpretations of folk music. Works include a title track by Vietnam War veteran J. Kimo Williams with a performance by electric violinist Tracy Silverman, Pamela Z’s The UnravelingWhat is the Word? by Christopher Theofanidis and Mark Wingate, new arrangements of a trio of Armenian folk songs by pioneering Armenian composer Komitas, and Eve Beglarian’s We Will Sing One Song for duduk, string quartet, percussion, and track. The Pamela Z, Theofanidis and Wingate, and Beglarian pieces are part of Apollo’s 20x2020 project, launched in 2014 with a mission to commission 20 new multicultural works before the end of the decade.

In J. Kimo Williams’ With Malice Toward None (2020), the composer speaks to the current social and cultural climate we face, taking inspiration from Beethoven, who wished that musical expression could affect change. Carol Williams, the composer’s wife and a social activist and artist, says, “A speech by a politician is not expected to be the equivalent of poetry, or to cast a lasting memory in popular culture; especially not one given 155 years ago. But that is precisely what [Abraham Lincoln’s] phrase, ‘with malice toward none, and charity for all,’ has become. It is the definition of politics seamlessly intersecting with art. So should it be any different from having music intersect with politics? Not for Beethoven, as most students of his music are already aware. Today, there is still a critical need for ‘socially responsible pieces of music’ that can address our human failures with as much hope as it does despair. We are together here in 2020, facing challenges old and new, internal and external. And we have reached a new low point when a People, born more American than African, have to again demand that the value of their lives be recognized.” The piece is dedicated to the late Civil Rights leader John Lewis and was composed for Apollo Chamber Players and electric violinist Tracy Silverman, who performs on this recording.

When asked for her interpretation of folk music, Pamela Z drew from the American folk and rock music from the 1960s and 1970s that resonated with her since childhood to create The Unraveling (2019). She says, “In my childhood, the first songs I learned to sing and play were songs by the likes of Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, and Malvina Reynolds, and my first forays into composing music were as a singer/songwriter very much influenced by these folk revival artists (protest songs and such) and folk rock artists... So, when someone mentions ‘folk music,’ this genre is always the first thing to pop into my mind.” Pamela Z celebrates her penchant for sampling, layering, looping, and fragmentation in the first movement to use “the string quartet as a human sample-playback device – creating their phrases and motifs from chopped-up, layered, and looped fragments of the dulcimer accompaniment for All I Want on Joni Mitchell’s Blue album. The second movement is a kind of ‘broken record’ riff on an old folk standard made popular by Peter, Paul, and Mary. The third movement is a slightly skewed lesson in a common finger-picking style, and the final movement is a wistful reminiscence of my busking days during my early visits to San Francisco, where I eventually relocated.”

Christopher Theofanidis and Mark Wingate’s What is the Word? (2017) is based on Samuel Beckett’s poem of the same name, which was written in response to his own late encounter with aphasia. The actress Billie Whitelaw once said of Beckett’s work, “I looked at his work like music, and to me it was rhythm and pauses, and lack of pauses.” This approach guided Theofanidis and Wingate’s musical response. Their piece begins with the reading of the original poem by actress Maura Hooper which unfolds over six subsequent movements that combine the abstracted voice with the string quartet in a highly interactive and surreal way. Theofanidis and Wingate say of Beckett’s poem, “the aphasic search for ‘the word’ becomes something which itself spins off rhythm and phrase in a kind of virtuosic dance, the text moving along a spectrum between meaning and pure musical sound. Music, then, seemed to us the natural way to amplify this search for this intersection of sound and meaning.” 

Armenian ethnomusicologist and composer Komitas created a renaissance in Armenian music, collecting and transcribing over 3,000 pieces of Armenian folk music during his life. He believed it his mission to introduce Armenian music to a global audience. Themes of Armenian Folksongs originates from a set of 10 collected folk songs by Komitas and later arranged for string quartet by Sarkis Aslamazyan of the Komitas Quartet. Further editing, including the creation of a contemporary score and parts, occurred in 2021 by Apollo founder Matthew J. Detrick. Festive Song (Habrban) is a buoyant, lighthearted dance with a melancholic undercurrent; a quasi-official state hymn, the intensely soulful music of The Crane (Krounk), symbolizes longing for one’s homeland and the suffering of the of Armenian people wrought by the Armenian genocide; and Echmiadzin Dance (Vagharshapati), a galloping folk hoedown partnering the first violin and viola, originates from the ancient Armenian city of the same name, the country’s spiritual and cultural epicenter. Armenian violist and Acting Principal of the Houston Symphony Joan DerHovsepian joins as guest artist. 

Eve Beglarian began creating We Will Sing One Song (2020) while reading The Human Comedy by Armenian-American writer William Saroyan. In it, a young boy waves at a man on a passing train, the man singing the song, “My Old Kentucky Home,” and the boy remembers this interaction forever. Beglarian says, “Given that the man is singing about returning to a much-loved place that is also the scene of many violent and difficult events for him and for people like him, I imagine the author is intimating how singing about going home is similarly fraught.” The music of We Will Sing One Song, performed by Apollo with Arsen Petrosyan on duduk and Pejman Hadadi on percussion, starts with an exploration of the melody of those five words in the Stephen Foster original and grows into a curious, deeply untraditional dance, which releases into a percussion solo that resolves into an Armenian version of “My Old Kentucky Home.” We Will Sing One Song was recorded remotely in fall 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with Petrosyan in Yerevan, Armenia navigating safe travel during the Armenian/Azurbaijani conflict and Hadadi in Los Angeles.

About Apollo Chamber Players
Houston, TX based Apollo Chamber Players “performs with rhythmic flair and virtuosity” (The Strad) and has “found fruitful territory” (Houston Chronicle) through innovative, globally-inspired programming and multicultural new music commissions. Recent winner of Chamber Music America’s prestigious Residency Partnership award, the quartet has performed for sold-out audiences at Carnegie Hall twice in the past five years, and it holds the distinction of being the first American chamber ensemble to record and perform in Cuba since the embargo relaxation. Apollo is featured frequently on American Public Media’s nationally-syndicated program Performance Today.

Apollo is a passionate advocate of contemporary music. In 2014, the organization launched a bold project to commission 20 new multicultural works by the end of the decade. Now approaching its conclusion, 20×2020 features a roster of the world’s leading composers including Grammy-winners Jennifer Higdon, Libby Larsen and Christopher Theofanidis. The group has collaborated with renowned ensembles and artists including Houston Ballet and Houston Chamber Choir, Grammy winner and Academy Award contributor Vanessa Vo, James Dunham, Ismail Lumanovski, and Emmy-winning Chickasaw composer Jerod Impichchaachaaha' Tate, among others. 

Apollo’s studio albums have garnered international acclaim, reaching millions of listeners around the world. Apollo’s debut album, European Folkscapes, earned ‘Album of the Week’ honors by WQXR; Blurred Boundaries has been lauded as “truly lovely music played exceptionally well by an adventurous and gifted ensemble” (Audiophile Audition); Ancestral Voices described as “infectious… intimate… provocative.... fun” (Gramophone); and Within Earth as “relentless, starkly exhilarating music” (New York Music Daily).

Apollo reaches further into the community by partnering with schools, universities, at-risk youth centers, refugee and veterans service organizations, hospitals, airports, and public libraries, providing performances, educational programs, and entrepreneurship lectures that impact a wider, underserved audience. Learn more at www.apollochamberplayers.org.

With Malice Toward None Track List
1. J. Kimo Williams — With Malice Toward None (2020) [13:23]

Pamela Z — The Unraveling -- 20x2020 No. 16 (2019)
     2. I. Joni [4:11]
     3. II. Lord I’m One [3:45]
     4. III. Travis [5:10]
     5. IV. Microbus [4:45]
     Pamela Z, voice and electronics 

Christopher Theofanidis & Mark Wingate — What is the Word? -- 20x2020 No. 11 (2017)
     6. “What is the Word” (poem) [1:31]
     7. I. Extroverted [2:06]
     8. II. Edgy [0:43]
     9. III. Mercurial [2:04]
     10. IV. Noble [2:20]
     11. V. Very Fast [1:42]
     12. VI. Euphoric [3:00] 

Komitas/Aslamazyan (arr. Matthew J. Detrick/Apollo Chamber Players) — Themes of Armenian Folksongs (1915/2021)
     13. Festive Song [1:23]
     14. The Crane [2:42]
     15. Echmiadzin Dance [2:14]
     Joan DerHovsepian, guest viola

16. Eve Beglarian — We Will Sing One Song -- 20x2020 No. 19 (2020) [17:54]
     Arsen Petrosyan, duduk
     Pejman Hadadi, percussion (tombak, kuzeh, dayereh, bam-dayereh, senj, kanjira)
     Joan DerHovsepian, guest viola
     Eve Beglarian, digital track 

Producers: Ryan Edwards and Brad Sayles
Recording Engineers: Ryan Edwards and Shannon Smith
Digital Editor: Ryan Edwards
Mastering: Alan Bise
Graphic Design: Teresa B. Southwell

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