American Modern Ensemble – Winter Songs: Vocal Music of Robert Paterson

American Modern Ensemble | Robert Paterson

Winter Songs: Vocal Music of Robert Paterson
By Robert Paterson, American Modern Ensemble

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Winter Songs is the first album dedicated entirely to the vocal music of award-winning composer Robert Paterson. All works on the album are performed by the New York City based American Modern Ensemble and produced by multi-Grammy winning producer Adam Abeshouse. Each work features combinations of voice, flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano and percussion. The featured vocalists are some of the finest in North America, including Jesse Blumberg, Robert Gardner, Nancy Allen Lundy, David Neal and Dimitri Pittas. All of the works on the album are world premiere recordings.

The works on this album are inspired by a variety of diverse subjects, and in many cases, use unconventional texts. CAPTCHA, sung by Jesse Blumberg, is the first work on the album for tenor and piano, and uses reCAPTCHA texts for each movement. CAPTCHA stands for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart, and CAPTCHAs (or in this case, reCAPTCHAs) consist of combinations or real words and gibberish words. Selected reCAPTCHA texts were used for all of the movements.

Winter Songs for bass-baritone and chamber ensemble consists of settings of winter-themed poems by A. R. Ammons, Billy Collins, Robert Creeley, Wallace Stevens and Richard Wilbur, and ls sung by David NealEating Variations (sung by Robert Gardner) is scored for baritone and chamber ensemble, and is a setting of poems by New York City-based poet Ron Singer, and is a sendup on food faddism. The texts for Thursday for soprano and piano consist of fictitious answering machine messages and is sung by Nancy Allen LundyBatter's Box for tenor and piano is a series of texts inspired by legendary New York Mets baseball catcher Mike Piazza, and is sung by Dimitri Pittas.

About American Modern Ensemble

American Modern Ensemble (AME) joyfully celebrates and showcases American music, performing the widest possible repertoire, particularly by living composers. Our goal is to grow our audience base as far as possible beyond the music community. AME includes on-stage chats with featured composers, presents premieres, and conducts three annual competitions for young, emerging and professional composers. Receptions after each concert enable audience members to mingle with both composers and performers in an intimate, relaxed setting.

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Founded in New York City in 2005, AME has been a dynamic, creative force in the American new music scene. With a world-class ensemble made up of NYC's finest musicians, AME is "simply 'first-rate" (The New York Times). AME has performed and premiered over 135 works by over 120 living American composers in venues ranging from Lincoln Center to Galapagos Arts Space, and has "consistently demonstrated a flair for inventive programming" (Steve Smith, Time Out New York). AME programs both cutting edge and traditional works, presenting unique, engaging events that encourage dialogue between artists and audiences. AME is committed to that connection: over 90% of the composers whose works have been programmed by AME have attended our concerts. Sold out crowds at Merkin Hall, Dimenna Center, the Rubin Museum, The TimesCenter and many other venues are a winning testament to AME's tremendous fan base and ever expanding popularity.

In 2012-13 AME was the ensemble-in-residence at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City, and AME tours and offers educational outreach programs. Recent collaborations include the Dance Theater of Harlem and Talujon percussion ensemble.


  1. CAPTCHA - I. duchenp fled

  2. CAPTCHA - II. Henry falutch

  3. CAPTCHA - III. youJusto nicely

  4. CAPTCHA - IV. Voix gustroor

  5. CAPTCHA - V. Secretary metadon

  6. Winter Songs - I. Icicles Filled the Long Window

  7. Winter Songs - II. Dark Day, Warm and Windy

  8. Winter Songs - III. The Snow Man

  9. Winter Songs - IV. Boy at The Window

  10. Winter Songs - V. Old Story

  11. Winter Songs - VI. Neither Snow

  12. Eating Variations - 1. My Body, a Temple

  13. Eating Variations - 2. The Hog

  14. Eating Variations - 3. Even the Dyspeptic Must Eat

  15. Eating Variations - 4. The Dietary Moralist

  16. Eating Variations - 5. The Happy Medium

  17. Thursday - 1. Introduction

  18. Thursday - 2. 9:15 a.m.

  19. Thursday - 3. 10:42 a.m.

  20. Thursday - 4. 5:09 p.m.

  21. Thursday - 5. 6:05 p.m.

  22. Thursday - 6. 6:15 p.m.

  23. Batter's Box - 1. Batting Practice

  24. Batter's Box - 2. Catching

  25. Batter's Box - 3. Rain Delay

  26. Batter's Box - 4. At Bat

  27. Batter's Box - 5. Postgame Interview

Total Time 75:01

Press Quotes

There’s Schumannian drama and melancholy in the song cycle “CAPTCHA” that opens this beautiful, witty and sometimes utterly desolate collection of vocal works by Robert Paterson and it’s all in the music.... A fine roster of singers takes turns accompanied by members of the American Modern Ensemble.
— Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim, The New York Times
As the season for Schubert’s “Winterreise” approaches, Robert Paterson offers a new alternative, as well as a variety of other intriguing, accessible art songs. Baritone Jesse Blumberg sings with conviction and creamy tone as he draws out the few sensible bits within random fragments of letters. Each is set expressively by Paterson, who latches onto words such as “blood” and “dream” to establish tone in music reminiscent of Ives... Paterson entertainingly tackles Ron Singer’s “Eating Variations,” employing comical self-seriousness at one point and, later, a sing-song, folksy tone. Also included is a surprisingly touching, candid cycle “Batter’s Box,” inspired by Mike Piazza, and “Thursday,” a set composed of voice mail messages.
— Ronni Reich, New Jersey Star Ledger
Winter Songs and other vocal works combines the genius of award-winning composer Robert Paterson and his collaborations with writers such as Ron Singer, Bridget Meeds, and Kenny Berkowitz. In total, the five vocal movements evoke a wide-range of intriguing work that touches on satire, the painful throngs of winter, internet dystopia, obsession with diet and health, and the all-American baseball player... What really stands out within these pieces is the thought behind each cycle... “Eating Variations” juxtaposes the somber mood of “Winter Songs” bringing a playful dose of satire to the forefront... Each song could be easily blended into a theatrical performance... Overall, the strengths of this work rest in the highly crafted words of the several writers who came together to collaborate on each cycle. Paterson’s directive compositions are apparent throughout, as Winter Songs is a narrative depicting our contemporary society’s obsession with the internet, diet, sports, and momentary depression in the cold winter months.
...intricate, idiomatic to the text, very colorful, and brilliantly wedded to the subtle nuances of vocal expression... Winter Songs is aptly titled on the album cover, and it remains my favorite, as few cycles I have heard describe the season in all its vicissitudes as deeply—and that includes Winterreise, of which this piece is a perfect antidote... The other cycles here are equally affecting, and deliciously varied in their mixture of instrumental accompaniment versus piano-only, with a number of different voice ranges each set to perfection, and performed with admirable vocal panoply. Producer Adam Abeshouse has done a fine job engineering a consistent product across two different locales, the American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York, and Westchester Studios. A fine release.
— Audiophile Audition
Anchoring the recording is Paterson’s song cycle, Winter Songs, an artful setting of six selected poems inspired by the coldest season, featuring AME and the resounding depth of bass-baritone David Neal... Paterson’s knack for supreme vocal writing and effective, elegant structures becomes all the more apparent in CAPTCHA... [Eating Variations is] a light-hearted cycle of five songs based on Singer’s collection by the same name. Baritone Robert Gardner joins AME, bringing life to Paterson’s pithy and picturesque musical depictions...