June 2017 in Las Vegas, NV
Fusing contemporary art song with pop and alternative rock, Songs in the Dark is a musical exploration into the dark, haunting and evocative poetry of Emily Brontë (1818-1848) and John Donne (1572-1631).
Jennifer Bellor, composer and singer
Christina Wright-Ivanova, piano
Jason Corpuz, synth
Summer Kodama, electric bass
Ron George, mixing at UNLV
Chuck Foley, recording at UNLV
Gil Kaupp, mastering
Zen Ritual Creative Services, album cover photo
Check out Songs in the Dark on CD BABY
Songs in the Dark will be available on ITunes, Amazon, and Spotify June 21, 2017.
Two music videos for I’ll Not Weep and Fall, Leaves, Fall will be produced by Zen Ritual Creative Services and released late Summer/ early Fall 2017.
For more information, visit SONGS IN THE DARK
Zen Ritual Creative Services is currently collaborating with me not only to produce photos and two music videos for my upcoming EP release SONGS IN THE DARK, but also photos for my brand new album project work-in-progress titled TO SLEEP.
Ever since I wrote these songs with text by Emily Brontë (1818-1848), my goal was to someday take some of these songs and produce a creative music video to communicate the emotions and imagery from her evocative poetry. When i came across Zen Ritual, I knew this would be the perfect fit for the collaboration I had in mind: a team of open-minded, experimental and creative artists who wanted to explore making my music and Brontë’s poetry come to life in a new way with all of the artistic forces combined.
Here is part of the photo shoot from Thursday at the Fort Apache Mines and Caves in Las Vegas:
The second half of the photo shoot was inside (see the FB post at the top of this page). On Friday, we shot the music video for the song I’ll Not Weep from my new EP SONGS IN THE DARK that will be released soon. I sang this song a lot over the course of the evening in various positions: on my stomach, back, in water… in order for my singing/breathing to look more organic for the final product of video placed with mastered audio. It was a fun challenge! Here are the lyrics to the song, the poem “Stanzas” by Emily Brontë:
I’ll not weep that thou art going to leave me,
There’s nothing lovely here;
And doubly will the dark world grieve me,
While thy heart suffers there.
I’ll not weep, because the summer’s glory
Must always end in gloom;
And, follow out the happiest story—
It closes with a tomb!
And I am weary of the anguish
Increasing winters bear;
Weary to watch the spirit languish
Through years of dead despair.
So, if a tear, when thou art dying,
Should haply fall from me,
It is but that my soul is sighing,
To go and rest with thee.
They told me I had to come looking very pale with dark eyes, and had so much fun doing the makeup for this:
They also told me that I would be getting wet at some point…
I have to say, my skin never felt so silky smooth!
This was one of the most fun, theatrical and adventurous experiences I have had thus far being a composer and performer. I cannot wait to see the final product, and look forward to many more collaborations with Zen Ritual!
On Sunday, July 2 at 7:30pm in Kilbourn Hall at the Eastman School of Music, pianists Olga Shupyatskaya and Futaba Niekawa will be premiering my composition Crystalline for two piano and two percussion. Joining them will be Matt Witten and Chris Jones. This will be an exciting concert, not only to hear fabulous performances, but also to reconnect with alumni friends and colleagues. Click here to see the Eastman press release
When Olga approached me back in December about writing a piece for them, I envisioned a composition that would be inspired by crystals with the piano and bell-like percussion instruments (vibraphone, glockenspiel, crotales, triangles) mixing together. It is more or less a theme and variations based off of an order of pitches to represent the process of building a crystal as all of the pitches are eventually introduced in the vibraphone part. I created a line that not only provides melodic/thematic material, but also influences the harmony:
The vibraphone primarily plays the line over and over again. At then at the end of the piece, it is is retrograde before it moves forward once again. The textures in both of the piano parts and the second percussion part using bell-like and metallic sounds all work together to create a sparkling, crystal-like atmosphere very much inspired by
both Chick Corea’s “Crystal Silence” and Bjork’s “Crystalline.”
The UNLV Wind Orchestra album “The Return” has now been released! Thrilled that my composition “Bordello Nights” is included on the album. It was such a wonderful collaboration with Tom Leslie and the UNLV Wind Orchestra, Eric Marienthal, Colin Gordon, Mitchel Forman, Kevin Axt, and Bernie Dresel 🎼😊🎧🎷🎸
Here are links to some of the reviews from Fanfare Magazine:
Review by Huntley Dent:
Review by Henry Fogel:
The premiere of the revised version of “898 Hildegard” went incredibly well, and it was such an honor to work with the Las Vegas Philharmonic under the direction of Donato Cabrera and the Las Vegas Master Singers under the direction of David Weiller. Moreover, it was wonderful to have the opportunity to share my music with so many of my very talented friends, colleagues, and students who were performing it. I’m so happy my parents were able to fly in to be with me for this very special night! 💞🎼🎶🎻
Had a blast with KNPR’s Dave Becker to discuss my composition “898 Hildegard” that will receive its Las Vegas premiere April 1st with the Las Vegas Philharmonic and Master Singers! 😊
Interview is scheduled to air Thursday, March 30th.
Here is a link to the audio online:
March 13-16, soprano Emily Woodruff flew to Las Vegas to perform my composition From My Doleful Prison that was premiered at the Composers Now Festival in February on her showcase titled “The Queens Speak.” “The Queens Speak” is a multimedia concert pairing contemporary art song with projected imagery to narrate the lives and experiences of King Henry VIII’s wives. Premiered last month in NYC in the Composers Now Festival, the program features photography, graphic novel-style illustrations, ink and watercolor, and oil on canvas, paired with music by Jennifer Bellor, Devin Cholodenko, George Gianopoulos, and Libby Larsen. Each composer set letters written from the Tudor Queens. In addition to her performing it at the UNLV Nextet Concert on Wednesday, March 15, she presented the entire showcase Thursday afternoon at UNLV.
Here is a video recording from the performance:
Paired with artwork by Dustin Brown, From My Doleful Prison sets the letter Anne Boleyn supposedly wrote to her husband Henry VIII while she was in prison awaiting execution. When I first read the letter, I knew I wanted to create a mad scene, since she is angry, confused, anxious, and filled with all sorts of emotions one would have when in a situation where one is wrongfully accused and sentenced to death for crimes that she may not even have committed. In addition to the soprano and piano parts, I used Logic samples to create a present day atmosphere that one might experience sitting in a jail cell. One would hear footsteps of prison guards approaching on a regular basis, along with clanging of the metal bars, people yelling, and even abstract sounds that one might experience in electrocution chambers. This sounds are ongoing throughout the entire piece to represent the fact that even after communicating the letter in song, the sounds will never stop, and the prisoner is still hopelessly stuck in a state of oppression sitting there in her jail cell.
The performance was thrilling! Joining her on piano was UNLV faculty pianist Tim Hoft.
This past weekend, I was thrilled to be in San Francisco to meet with the Elevate Ensemble and be at their concert on Saturday March 4th titled “After Dark.” Back in December, I found out that I won their Elevate Ensemble Call for Scores competition, and was so honored to hear they wanted to perform my composition Moments Shared, Moments Lost for clarinet and electric organ.
I arrived on Friday for their rehearsal, and was blown away by the performance! Featuring clarinetist Jonathan Szin and Nick Bacchetto on electric organ, it was a very moving interpretation of the piece. Here are some photos of the performance and also of me talking about my composition.
The Missouri State University 2017 Composition Festival was February 27-March 1 featuring two wonderful concerts with a wide variety of new music! Directed by faculty composer Mike Murray, I was thrilled to be the guest composer along with Lansing D. McLoskey, and had a blast meeting with the performers, faculty, and students.
Monday’s concert featured chamber works by the guest composers and students on the first half of the program. My composition Stay (2016) was performed by clarinetist Allison Storochuk, pianist Peter Collins, and Scott Cameron on vibraphone. It was a beautiful performance, and a pleasure meeting them!
Tuesday, I really enjoyed working with the students in a master class followed by giving a presentation of my music, sharing compositions Chase the Stars, Moments Shared, Moments Lost, Air and Angels, and excerpts from Bordello Nights.
Wednesday’s concert featured the MSU Chorale conducted by Cameron LaBarr. I was blown away by their performance of Remember, one of the earliest compositions I wrote that I revised back in 2015, which sets the poem by Christina Rossetti (1830-1894) titled Remember.
Here is a photo of the composers (and conductor) after the show. It was an honor to be invited to be guest composer for this festival, and I look forward to many more opportunities to make new musical connections with composers and performers!