Naxos / February 2011
Michael Daugherty and Evelyn Glennie at dress rehearsal of Daugherty's Dreamachine for solo percussion and orchestra on May 11, 2014. WDR Rundunk Orchestra, Cologne, Germany.
Cellist Zuill Bailey and composer Michael Daugherty at a Detroit Tigers baseball game Detroit, Michigan, May 23, 2014. Mr. Bailey will premiere Daugherty's new Cello Concerto with the Nashville Symphony in April 2015.
Dynamic / July 2009 / Bologna Opera
Jackie O on DVD
Click here to watch trailer
Ann Arbor high school bands premiere "Vulcan" by Grammy® Award-winning composer Michael Daugherty at historic centennial concert
In a gala concert at Hill Auditorium, the Pioneer, Huron, and Skyline High School Bands of Ann Arbor will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the first Ann Arbor High School Band. This historic centennial concert will place on Thursday, May 29, 2014 at 7:30 p.m. The performance is free and open to the public.
The concert will feature the world premiere of Vulcan for Concert Band, written by Grammy award-winning composer Michael Daugherty, a professor of composition at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance. The new Daugherty work was commissioned jointly by Ann Arbor High School band directors David Leach (Pioneer), Stephen Roberts (Huron) and Jason Smith (Skyline).
Michael Daugherty writes: “Vulcan for Concert Band is my musical homage to Gene Roddenberry’s interstellar universe as depicted in the classic American television series Star Trek (1966-69). The title refers to the fiery planet Vulcan, the homeworld of the half-human, half-Vulcan Mr. Spock. As the rational science officer aboard the starship Enterprise, commandeered by the hot-blooded Captain James T. Kirk, Mr. Spock grapples with the “fascinating” predicament of making decisions predicated on human emotion or Vulcan logic. I have composed stirring, yet highly structured music, which alludes to Vulcan “Pon Farr” rituals, Vulcan telepathic mind-melds and Mr. Spock’s volcanic planet of Vulcan.
"Metropolis Symphony is aSymphonie Fantastique for our times"
Naxos Records presents the latest release from composer Michael Daugherty (b. 1954); a compilation of three world premieres for orchestra and choir. The works combine to form a fascinating look at several important centerpieces of what is referred to as, 'The Greatest Generation,' the period of American history between the Great Depression and World War II. --Edge Network, by Steven Bergman, Tuesday May 7, 2013
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 Pop – The Music of Michael Daugherty” = MICHAEL DAUGHERTY: Philadelphia Stories; UFO (Naxos 8.559165) – Route 66; Ghost Ranch; Sunset Strip; Time Machine – (Naxos 8.559613) – Metropolis Symphony; Deus ex Machina – (Naxos 8.559635) – Evelyn Glennie, percussion/Colorado Sym. /Bournemouth Sym. /Marin Alsop /Terrence Wilson, piano/Nashville Sym. /Giancarlo Guerrero – Naxos Records 8.503267, 209:22 (3-CD box set) (4/30/13) ****:
MICHAEL DAUGHERTY, “Mount Rushmore” = Mount Rushmore; Radio City: Symphonic Fantasy; The Gospel According to Sister Aimee – Paul Jacobs, organ/Pacific Sym./ Carl St. Clair – Naxos Records 8.559749, 77:52 (4/30/13) ****:
By now, anyone who follows contemporary American classical music knows that Michael Daugherty is one of the country’s greatest and most original composers. Anyone who does not know this should get these releases comprising four discs and ten of his most compelling works which offer a great way to get up to speed.
For over twenty years now, the focus of Daugherty’s composition has been to take an admiring, somewhat amusing, sometimes wry and always visionary look at the iconic trends, sights and moments of American culture and history. In so doing, he has created a brilliantly unique style utilizing smatterings of jazz, pop, “minimalism” and his own touches that cannot be characterized that makes Michael Daugherty, in his own way, a uniquely “American” composer. His approach and his writing make him, perhaps, the most unique and archetypical American composer since Copland.
There is so much music here, much of which I hope is familiar to many. For example, his ode to Superman, the Metropolis Symphony, has been played by many orchestras all over the country. Similarly, his amazingly eccentric UFO written for the great percussionist Evelyn Glennie and his beautiful and quirky “road trip”, Route 66, are much honored works in the Daugherty catalogue.
Some of this music may be less familiar, unjustifiably so. Time Machine, from 2003, does not have anything directly in connection with the ‘travelogue’ aspects of the other works on the “Route 66” disc. However, its focus on “Past” and “Future” works nicely to mesh with some of the nostalgic tour of the other works. This is a big vivid orchestral work wherein the ensemble is divided into three parts, requiring three conductors as the orchestra is physically divided on the stage. Daugherty explains that when the three parts play together, it creates a “three dimensional” effect to simulate flying through time. His orchestration is, again, colorful, relying on odd but beautiful effects in the percussion and winds. The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra led by the outstanding American conductor and Daugherty expert Marin Alsop give another great performance.
Philadelphia Stories is, essentially, a three-movement tone “Concerto for the City of Brotherly Love” (in a way), paying homage to various aspects of the inner city (“Sundown On South Street“), the macabre nature of Edgar Allan Poe (“The Tell-Tale Heart“), and the legacy of the dynamic but sometimes controversial conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra, Leopold Stokowski (“Bells For Stokowski“). In this last movement, Daugherty creates a sound as if all the bells tolling in Philadelphia represented Stokowski visiting the Liberty Bell. In this recording, Marin Alsop leads the Colorado Symphony in a stirring and committed performance.
Deus ex Machina is a brilliant piano concerto that should get more play for all it has to offer. What makes this surprisingly “serious” work interesting is that it is a concerto for piano in which each movement uses imagery of trains (which, in turn have helped to define and create American expansion). For example, the opening “Fast Forward” is a look at a visionary future in which we have an interconnected world, surging ever forward, brightly. The mood shifts dramatically with “Train of Tears” about Abraham Lincoln’s funeral train ride. This is a sad and reverent look at a critical moment in history. The closing “Night Steam” is a bit of a fun ride on the last of the coal-fired trains of the late nineteenth century in a sweeping view of the country. Soloist Terrence Wilson gives a thoughtful, brilliant performance and the Nashville Symphony under Giancarlo Guerrero is a great orchestra, not known enough, in my opinion.
The most recent Naxos Daugherty offering is “Mount Rushmore” which features the title work for chorus and orchestra. Mount Rushmore for chorus and orchestra takes its cue 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.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. 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.
Naxos has shown a tremendous commitment to contemporary American music and here we have two new releases, four discs in all, of one of the country’s most important composers. Michael Daugherty’s music speaks to us all for its topicality and its tonal language that is invigorating, engaging and relevant. I heartily recommend any and all of the discs in these offerings and – for that matter – anything by Daugherty!