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THE GREAT GOD PAN

an opera in two acts

Ross Crean

 

 

OVERVIEW

 

Chicago-based composer Ross Crean’s opera The Great God Pan soars in this new release, the first collaboration between the composer and PARMA recordings. The Great God Pan takes its story from an eponymous 1890 novella by Welsh author Arthur Machen, which explores themes of scientific hubris, transcendental medicine, and unexplainable supernatural behavior. Impressively, Crean adapted Machen’s narrative into the work’s libretto himself, an ambitious and rare undertaking for a composer. Crean’s familiarity with the story shows through in the emotional resonance of his music, which matches and communicates the character’s concerns and feelings with unflinching precision.

 

The key to Crean’s musical portrayal of the story is twofold. First, beginning with the overture, much of the opera’s accompanimental music is defined by pulsing ostinato ideas. This characteristic is inviting to the listener and draws us into the musical world of Crean’s opera. More importantly, the relentless quality of these rhythms wordlessly establishes the ominous mixture of tension and mystery at the heart of The Great God Pans narrative. Second, Crean’s text setting is extremely clear, so the story is conveyed with crystal clarity in this recording.

 

Without giving too much away, the tale at the heart of The Great God Pan begins with a surgery gone wrong. The first character we meet, Dr. Raymond, has invited the opera’s protagonist, Clarke, to witness an important experiment based in elements of non-traditional, ancient rituals. Dr. Raymond sacrifices his wife Mary as the subject of his attempt to access a higher spiritual plane – referred to as, “seeing the Great God Pan” – and unwittingly initiates a serious of mysterious supernatural occurrences that Clarke encounters over the next few decades.

 

This recording represents a chamber version of Crean’s opera that includes a full cast of ten superb vocalists and a pair accompanying pianos. The piano parts yearn to be orchestrated, and, in many moments, the listener can easily imagine the lush mixture of brass, strings, woodwinds, and percussion Crean will employ once he has the opportunity to fully orchestrate the piece. With this said, the performance on this album never neither feels incomplete, nor does it ever lack any intensity it might enjoy in a full production. This owes to the excellent quality of the album’s vocal performances, and to Crean’s ingenuity in composing the accompanying piano parts with the sounds of strumming and plucking, which combine to make the music that much more vibrant.

 

 

HIGHLIGHTS

 

Ross Crean is a multifaceted artist, composing and active in many genres of music.  As a vocalist, he has studied rock, opera, and many disparate vocal styles.

 

He received his degree from Illinois State University in Music Theory/Composition and has worked with or received commissions from Oberlin College, Opera on Tap Chicago, and Loyola University Museum of Art.

 

Crean’s song cycle, A Passive-Aggressive’s Guide to Mother Goose, was a 2016 winner of One Ounce Opera’s inaugural Fresh Squeezed Ounce of Art Song competition.

 

CREDITS

 

Profound gratitude to all involved and for your contributions:

William Campbell, Andy Happel, Bob Lord, Chris Robinson, Levi Brown, Ronald Crean, Mallory Harding, Catherine O’Shaughnessy, Victor LeJeune, Giovanna Jacques, Thomas Zoells, Matthan Ring Black, Sarah Thompson Johansen, Erin Moll, Marysa Abbas, Aaron Gottl, Community Church of Wilmette, PianoForte Chicago, Inc.

 

To my amazing cast: The gratitude I have for your hard work is overwhelming. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking this journey with me.

 

Dedicated to my Mum, Charleen. Heaven has received an upgrade.

 

Recorded December 6-8, 2016 at PianoForte Chicago, Inc., Chicago, IL

 

Session Engineer Aaron Gottl

Session Producer Andy Happel

Executive Producer Ross Crean

Music Directors Ross Crean and Catherine O’Shaughnessy

Recording Engineer & Associate Producer Aaron Gottl

 

Published by Knight & Thorne Music (ASCAP). All Rights Reserved.

 

 

Artwork Sir Joseph Noel Paton (1849) The Quarrel of Oberon and Titania

 

 

Executive Producer Bob Lord

Executive A&R Sam Renshaw

A&R Chris Robinson

Audio Director Jeff LeRoy

Engineering Manager Lucas Paquette

Design & Marketing Manager Brett Picknell

Design Emily Roulo

 

ALSO ON NAVONA

 

ARCHITECT (nv5905)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Release Date: August 11, 2017

Catalog #: NV6115

 

 

TRACK LISTING

 

DISC ONE

 

01 Intro

John Cockerill piano Stephen Uhl piano

 

Act I, Scene 1

02 The Discovery

Matthan Ring Black baritone Tobias Wright tenor

 

03  The Reveal

Matthan Ring Black, Tobias Wright

 

04 The Dream, the Call, and the Lullaby

Maureen Smith soprano   Sarah Thompson Johansen soprano

Matthan Ring Black, Tobias Wright

 

Act I, Scene 2

05 Interlude

John Cockerill piano Stephen Uhl piano

 

06 Twenty Years

Tobias Wright

 

07  A Story to Add to the Memoir

Matthan Ring Black, Tobias Wright   Marysa Abbas mezzo soprano

 

08 In the Garden

Jessica Hiltabidle contralto, Stephen Uhl

 

09  The Story Continues

Tobias Wright, Jessica Hiltabidle

 

Act I, Scene 3

10  Villiers’ Parlor

John Cockerill, Stephen Uhl

 

11  Advice in Investments?

Erin Moll mezzo soprano    Vince Wallace bass baritone    Tobias Wright

 

12 An Old Friend in Shambles

Vince Wallace, Mark Haddad bass

 

13  The Plot Thickens

Tobias Wright, Erin Moll, Vince Wallace, Matthan Ring Black

 

 

DISC TWO

 

Act II, Scene 1

01 A Stroll in London Fog

John Cockerill, Stephen Uhl, Erin Moll, Vince Wallace

 

02  An Artist Meets His Maker

Andrew Fisher tenor Sarah Thompson Johansen

 

03 City of Nightmares

Erin Moll, Vince Wallace

 

04  It is Helen Vaughan!

Erin Moll, Vince Wallace

 

Act II, Scene 2

05  Gethsemane

Sarah Thompson Johansen, John Cockerill

 

06  Silent Too Long

Tobias Wright, Vince Wallace, Erin Moll

 

07  The Confrontation and Ultimatum

Sarah Thompson Johansen, Vince Wallace, Tobias Wright, Erin Moll

 

08 Helen’s Prophecy Before the Fall

Sarah Thompson Johansen, Erin Moll, Tobias Wright, Vince Wallace

 

Act II, Scene 3 (The Fragments)

09 The First Fragment

Tobias Wright, John Cockerill

 

10  The Second Fragment

Erin Moll, Vince Wallace

 

11  The Third Fragment

Matthan Ring Black, Sarah Thompson Johansen

 

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