The strings of WHCO perform five musical works by composers who live and thrive in New York City’s uptown neighborhoods, from Inwood to Harlem to the Upper West Side. The composers works were chosen for our recording project through an open call for scores held earlier this year. Each composer shares a unique voice and style representing a piece of the broad spectrum of classical artists creating in our city today. We hope you’ll join us for this very special streaming concert airing at 8:30pm Sunday July 25th on Facebook and YouTube. Free!
8:30pm EDT Sunday July 25, 2021
Freely streaming on Facebook & YouTube
Washington Heights Chamber Orchestra
Mark Chien, Violin
Chris Whittaker, Music Director
W. Brent Sawyer: …Of Heavenly Joy*
Hilary Purrington: Anthem
Philip Wharton: Oh, But Everyone Was a Bird
Chris Whittaker: Lullaby
Jorge Sosa: Son de Harlem* *World premiere
About the Composers
W. Brent Sawyer (Inwood)
After graduating from SMU with a degree in Music Theory and Composition, Brent Sawyer moved to NYC. He has performed on the keyboard in the pit of several Broadway Shows including Annie Get Your Gun and A Chorus Line. He has music directed a dozen Off-Broadway musicals. And conducted over a 100 musicals at the most prestigious theaters around the country. He has vocal coached and conducted some of the top Broadway talents. During the recent pandemic Brent has renewed his love of writing concert music and is grateful to have them now performed and premiered.
Jorge Sosa (Harlem) is a Mexican-born composer, and sound artist currently residing in New York. Jorge has worked in a wide range of styles and media, covering everything from electronic music to opera. In Jorge’s music you can often find a purposeful use of extended techniques, and a colorful palette of textures and effects that interact with atomic motives and pounding rhythms. The juxtaposition of noise and lyrical melodies make for a style that is both forward-looking and rooted in tradition.
Opera News described his telematic opera “Alice in the Pandemic” as “wildly imaginative, musically powerful and technically courageous” and commended “Sosa’s broad stylistic palette (which) incorporated lyrical impassioned melodies, kooky carnival music, and efficient recitative”. The Music Blog “I Care if You Listen” described Sosa’s opera “I Am A Dreamer Who No Longer Dreams” as “well-balanced to the story’s narrative, and his vocal writing aroused strong emotional peaks and valleys, magnified by the characters’ impassioned performances”. ICON Magazine described Sosa’s work “Enchantment” for Tárogató and Electronics as Eerie, haunting, dreamlike, at times nightmarish—and highly recommended.”
Jorge has been commissioned by Little Orchestra Society to write “The Monarch of Uxmal” a new work for orchestra and narrator to premiere in May. Jorge is currently developing a new puppet-opera “Monkey” commissioned by White Snake Projects. “Monkey” will receive a workshop performance in 2022, and is scheduled to premiere in Boston in 2023. Jorge has recently been commissioned by American Lyric Theater to develop the new opera The Opposable Thumb with libretto by Julian Crouch with a workshop date in 2021. In 2019 Jorge was commissioned by Albany Symphony to write his work “I Dissent”, based on three iconic dissenting opinions by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. “I Dissent” was premiered in the Albany Symphony’s “Voices of America Festival” in 2019.His piece “Punto y Línea” for solo flute was featured in the 2019 London Festival of American Music, and his work “Cells” for ensemble and electronics was recently performed at the Diffrazioni Multimedia Festival in Italy, and in the International Computer Music Conference in New York City. In 2019 Jorge was a guest artist with New Music Detroit during their 2019 Strange Beautiful Music Festival. Jorge’s first full-length opera, “La Reina,” commissioned by American Lyric Theater, was performed in the 2016 “PROTOTYPE” festival in NY. In 2020 the NYU New Music Ensemble will release a new album dedicated to Jorge’s improvisation works with electronics. Jorge is currently an Associate Professor at Molloy College. Jorge’s music is available on all the major music download sites and through the website www.jorgesosa.com.
Hilary Purrington (Washington Heights) is a composer of chamber, vocal, and orchestral music. Her works have been performed by many distinguished ensembles, including the Phoenix Symphony, American Modern Ensemble, New York Youth Symphony, and Inscape Chamber Orchestra. Recent commissions include new works for the Albany Symphony and American Composers Orchestra, and upcoming projects include commissions for the Philadelphia Orchestra, the UNC Greensboro Symphony Orchestra, and guitarist JIJI. Also an accomplished vocalist, Purrington has developed a reputation as a skilled composer of solo and choral music. Recent vocal commissions include new works for Yale Glee Club, the Choral Composer/Conductor Collective, and mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke.
Purrington’s music has received recognition from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers; the International Alliance for Women in Music; and the League of American Orchestras, among others. Originally from western Massachusetts, she holds degrees from the Yale School of Music, The Juilliard School, and the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University.
Philip Wharton (Upper West Side)
Few artists enjoy such high praise for both of their disciplines as composer/violinist Philip Wharton. Of his playing, The New York Times proclaimed, “a rousing performance!” and The Waterloo Courier wrote, “a golden tone with breathtaking execution.” His compositions, heralded from coast to coast, are described by the New York Concert Review as, “…decidedly contemporary…both engaging and accessible.” Writing from symphony to song, past seasons saw the Santa Fe Opera’s remounting of Two Saintes Caught in the Same Act as part of their apprentice scenes program, the Grammy-nominated Borealis Wind Quintet perform his Quintet on their concert tours, his chamber symphony, Passing Season performed by regional orchestras, premiere of his Symphony, his tribute to Shakespeare’s 450th birthday, a song cycle entitled Fools, and concerts with Grammy-nominated soprano, Caroline Worra. Other projects include collaborations with author Janet Burroway and illustrator John Vernon Lord to create musical settings of their books for children: The Giant Jam Sandwich, The Truck on the Track, and a vocal-monodrama, The Perfect Pig. Recent recordings include Albany Records’ release of his Flute Sonata—Katherine Fink (flute) & Rose Grace (piano), Crescent Phase Records’ release of his Woodwind Quintet—Madera Woodwind Quintet, and Kenneth Thompkins’ (principal Detroit Symphony Orchestra) recording of his Alto-Trombone Sonata. Recent projects include those with the Orchestra of Saint Lukes (NY), the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (UK), and the New York Philharmonic.