WORKS     Samples from CD tracks

 

 

SONGS FROM SPOON RIVER, REFLECTIONS OF A PEACEMAKER

click the track title to listen to a sample audio clip
scroll down for reviews

Back to Works Index Page
Back to CDs Index Page

Spoon River Track 2 Track 2 Track 3 Track 4 Track 5 Track 6 Track 7 Track 8 Track 9 Track 10 Track 11 Track 12 Track 13 Track 14 Track 15 Track 16 Track 17 Track 18 Track 19 Track 20 Track 21 Track 22 Track 23 Track 24 Track 25 Track 26 Track 27 Track 28

Spoon River
FIVE SONGS FOR CHILDREN

REVIEWS

FIVE SONGS FOR CHILDREN

Bloomington Herald-Times, Peter Jacobi
 “This listener tends to judge musical settings primarily on the basis of whether the music has added expressive power to the words.  That’s not easily come by when the words on this occasion were drawn from the likes of … Amy Lowell, Christina Rossetti, and Edna St. Vincent Millay.   In Grier’s Children’s Songs the music seemed to equal or even enhance the texts.”

IAWM JOURNAL
“Although the (Five Songs for Children) were composed over a thirty-seven year period, they are united by a youth freshness and lightness of approach.  The piano creates an aural environment for each song, from rolling waves in “The Seashell”, and “Someone” to chirping birds in “The Bluebird”.

Music Web-international
“The Songs for Children do not talk down to the children they are aimed at”

FANFARE MAGAZINE
“Although some of the songs date from 1962 and some from 1999, there is a remarkable stylistic congruence between them….The Five Songs displays an artful simplicity.  Try especially the rocking rhythms of The Sea Shell”, or the light-as-a-feather final song “The Bluebird”

AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE
“For a sense of the composer’s expert use of shifting meters, try “Someone” (Walter de La Mare) in Grier’s Songs for Children.  In that moving song, irregular staccato taps at the door become a metaphor for the unknowns in our lives destined to stay unknown forever. A fascinating program and I’m pleased to recommend it.  I’m also glad Lita Grier is back on the job and suspect you will be, too.

top

SNEEZLES

REVIEWS

SNEEZLES: (A.A. Milne. From “Now We Are Six)

“An innovative chamber work., whose characterizations enhance this charming childhood story”
Journal of the IAWM: (International Alliance for Women in Music)

 “When you hear Sneezles you realize what a perceptive artist this really is.  A A. Milne’s clever Disney-owned texts are caught to perfection with Grier’s perfect choice of accompaniment: oboe, percussion and piano.”
Audiophile Audition

“She wrote it for her own child, …, and the music itself is delightful, with elegantly subtle parts for percussion…”
Classical Net

Fanfare: Magazine
“It is Sneezles …that sums up her wonderful sense of humor best”.

top

 

FIVE SONGS FROM “A SHROPSHIRE  LAD”

REVIEWS

FIVE SONGS FROM “A SHROPSHIRE  LAD” (A.E. Housman)

Music Web-International
“Her settings of classic English texts have an entrancing mix of Old World and New World.”

Fanfare Magazine
“The hushed beauty of this music is a revelation

top

 

TWO SONGS FROM EMILY DICKINSON

REVIEWS

TWO SONGS FROM EMILY DICKINSON

American Record Guide
The first Emily Dickinson song (“I Cannot Live With You”) is the true heartbreaker of the collection, as the poet’s conflicted emotions are borne on elegant phrases bearing musical testimony to the sad fact that not all loving relationships are destined to go the distance. 

Fanfare Magazine
The second song operates in high contrast: “I taste a liquor never brewed” is a response to nature, far more intoxicating than any alcohol."

IAWM Journal
“Composed during her student days…the musical and emotional maturity of these songs presage Grier’s success as a composer of vocal works”

Musical Pointers, U.K.
“…. fashioned with great skill ….and unfailingly apt for her well-chosen texts. Outstanding are two Dickinson settings, which would go well alongside Copland’s..”

Audiophile Audition
“The 2 Songs from Emily Dickinson stand out .. as quite different from the others.. Grier  adapting her style to face the more stringent requirements imposed on any composer by the chewy Dickinson texts, and she does the job beautifully. The music holds back and lets the text be the driving force”

top

 

SONGS FROM SPOON RIVER

REVIEWS

SONGS FROM SPOON RIVER (from Spoon RiverAnthology by Edgar Lee Masters)

Classics Today 
Grier’s songs…impress with their uncontrived spontaneity and sensitivity to words that’s not always easy to achieve when writing songs to English texts. . Petit the Poet, and Margaret Fuller Slack (the latter two texts from Edgar Lee Masters' Spoon River Anthology), show the nuanced, multilayered sophistication of the most refined songwriter, reminding us that Grier was--and is--the real thing, and we can be glad that she's back as a full-time composer”.


Audiophile Audition
“Edgar Lee Masters’ tombstone poetry deals with a wide range of stories not necessarily – in fact they aren’t - connected, yet Grier finds an overarching theme to them all – death…and is able to spin a tone that pervades all of these pieces.  A long overdue tribute to a woman whose compositional corpus is long overdue itself”

    

Classical Voice of New England 
  “
Songs from Spoon River is a true cycle rather than a simple set, with opening and closing songs that bookend the others, some of which have inter-relationships and cross references, such as a granddaughter addressing her grandmother who spoke earlier… Grier seemingly has an inborn knack for judicious selection of texts and skill for making the notes caress them and bring them to life.  These musicians also literally caress the songs.   These works are a marvelous addition to the art song repertoire.”                                                                                                                               
IAWC Journal
“This disc is representative of Grier’s ability to create a harmonic environment that enhances the interpretation of the text.  Even the most dissonant moments add to the expressive nature of these songs, never detracting from the declamation of the text.  Her piano accompaniments are beautifully supportive of the voice, often weaving thoughtful countermelodies around the vocal line”.

Chicago Tribune
“CD of the Week
: This is a wonderful collection of songs and song cycles spanning the entire career of Chicago composer Grier.  Her settings of 10 poems from Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology (a result of three Ravinia commissions) lend evocative counterforce to their bittersweet sentiments.”

Fanfare Magazine
The hypnotic opening song (of Spoon River) ,“All are sleeping on the hill” for tenor, intriguingly introduces the listener to the inhabitants of a cemetery There is a death motif here that reappears at various points in the cycle. The entry of a soprano for “Sarah Brown,” the second song, is pure genius, a ray of exquisite vocal light… That Songs from Spoon River hangs together so well is testament to Grier’s skill in the song-cycle genre”  

top

 

REFLECTIONS OF A PEACEMAKER 

REVIEWS

REFLECTIONS OF A PEACEMAKER 
TEXTS BY MATTIE J.T. STEPANEK


 Fanfare  Magazine
“Finally… settings of five poems by the short-lived Mattie J.T. Stepanek (1990-2004) for children’s choir, collectively titled Reflections of a Peacemaker.  Stepanek was old way beyond his years (he died just before his 14th birthday) and celebrated life and joy in everything he encountered.  Some of the poems are astonishing in their depth (particularly “Eternal Role Call”): everywhere, there is hope.  The message of the final song, “I AM” seems to sum it all up as it celebrates each person’s individuality.  The deceptive simplicity of Grier’s settings is part and parcel of their magic.

Musical Pointers –U.K.
A fine children’s choir does full justice to some remarkable life-enhancing poems by Mattie Stepanek, a gifted child who died of Dysautonomic Mitcochondrial Myopathy at a mere 14 years of age…. It’s all lovingly put together, with full texts.  Recommended. Inspiring!

Audiophile Audition
“Reflections of a Peacemaker by the now-deceased child poet Mattie Stepanek (if you don’t know his story, Google him – it is unbelievably moving) is sung by a children’s choir, and the music is adapted accordingly – more tuneful, basic yet cleverly construed harmonies, and a simplicity that emphasizes the children’s aspect of the poetry while not dumbing it down. .

 “The final item on the disc is a set of choral pieces sung by the Chicago Children’s Choir.  Here Grier sets poetry by Mattie J.T. Stepanek, a young man who died in 2004 at the age of 14.  The poems are quite sophisticated and Grier’s settings again do not talk down.  In fact the choir makes a surprisingly mature sound and it was only after my first listen that I realized that they were a children’s choir”.
Music Web International

Classiccdreview.com
“I admired the choral writing of Reflections of a Peacemaker.  The Chicago Youth Choir is so good of its type that most of the time it fooled me into thinking it an adult choir.  …They certainly go a long way to putting over the Stepanek.”

Classics Today
This recording features songs – -- and a set of five pieces for children’s choir (to poems by Mattie Stepanek).  Perhaps partly a reflection of her early development, Grier’s songs are not about “tunes” but rather seem to take form from textual rhythms and inflections, the linear shape of the vocal line taking direct cues from the poetry rather than being imposed by the composer’s melodic preconception… Although most of these songs are not “about” tunes, that doesn’t mean they aren’t “tuneful” – and attractively so: in fact Grier’s experience in writing for musical theatre shows quite tellingly and engagingly in songs such as…… I AM (Mattie Stepanek), .. which you could imagine as the  big closer to a Broadway show.”

IAWC Journal
“Reflections of a Peacemaker was commissioned by the Chicago Children’s Choir to poetry by Mattie J.T. Stepanek.  Stepanek’s brief life ended in 2004 but his poetry has been celebrated for its wisdom, courage, and beauty.  Grier effectively sets these texts with sparkling harmonies and soaring melodies, capturing the excitement and enthusiasm of children, while paying homage to the profundity of Stepanek’s thoughts.  These songs serve as a lovely bookend to a recording that reaches into the depth of human experience as seen by the living and the dead.”

top

 

CD Images
 

top