Songs of Perfect Proprietyis wonderfully entertaining vintageDorothy Parker, perfectly matched by Seymour Barab’s savvy,inventive blend of American art song, cabaret, and musical theaterstyles. Thanks to Barab’s inspired musical initiative, vocalistAmy Elizabeth Wheeler and pianist Kristie Born give clear voiceto the lyric magic of Parker’s poems.
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Songs of Perfect Propriety is wonderfully entertaining vintage Dorothy Parker, perfectly matched by Seymour Barab’s savvy, inventive blend of American art song, cabaret, and musical theater styles. Thanks to Barab’s inspired musical initiative, vocalist Amy Elizabeth Wheeler and pianist Kristie Born give clear voice to the lyric magic of Parker’s poems.
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There must be courage…There
must be a disciplined eye and a
wild mind. – Dorothy Parker
Kristie Born has performed a wide range of solo, chamber, and large ensemble music, including a multi-media presentation of Erik Satie’sParade, and premiered the works of several composers, most notably, 3 Ponteios (em miniatura), para flauta e piano by Paolo Costa Lima at the Florida Flute Festival and Faded Anecdotes: Five Images for Solo Piano by Syd Hodkinson, a piece composed for her at Stetson University's Sounds New Composer's Series.Born made her solo debut with the Hollywood Philharmonic performing Beethoven's First Piano Concerto and has worked as vocal coach and pianist in Japan, Italy, Sweden, and Austria. Her previous recordings include A Soft Florida Rain, classic art songs by contemporary Finnish/American composer Kari Henrik Juusela, performed in collaboration with tenor Stephen Ng, and Vibrations of Hope: Music of the New Millenium,(Albany Records), performed with pianist Rose Shylam Grace.Born has been on the faculty of Stetson University’s School of Music since 2005, where she teaches accompanying and coaches the Stetson Opera Theater. She received a Bachelor of Music and a Master of Music in piano performance from the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore and a doctorate in chamber music and accompanying from the University of Miami.
Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) is one of the most quoted and quotable women of all time. Poet, short story writer, reviewer, critic, journalist, playwright, and screenwriter, she is legendary for her wit, wisecracks, and satirical skewering of social and political pretensions and celebrated for her literary achievement. Parker made her debut in print in 1914 with the publication of a poem in VanityFair. A job writing copy at Voguefollowed, while she continued to contribute edgy, irreverent poems to Vanity Fair, where she became staff writer and later drama critic. She was appointed to the editorial board of theNew Yorkerwhen it was launched in 1925, and her poetry, short fiction, sketches, dialogues, and book reviews helped shape the magazine’s distinctive character. During the 1920s, Parker published some 300 hundred poems and free verses as well as numerous short stories and articles in popular magazines. Her first volume of poetry, Enough Rope, was a bestseller, and her iconic short story "Big Blond," received the O. Henry Award. In 1934, Parker moved to Los Angeles, where she co-wrote screenplays, including A Star Is Born and Smash-Up:The Story of a Woman, both nominated for Academy Awards. Traveling between coasts, she continued to write book reviews for Esquireand the New Yorker, while contributing to other publications, before returning to New York in 1964.She is the first woman writer to be published in the original 1944 Viking Portable Library series. Now in its 2nd revised edition as a Penguin Classic, The Portable Dorothy Parkerhas been continuously in print for over sixty years. In 2011, the infamous Mrs. Parker was inducted into the New York State Writers Hall of Fame as a member “whose writings have made a lasting contribution to literature.”
The words of a poem immediately
suggest music to me. —Seymour Barab
Seymour Barab (1921-2014), organist, pianist, cellist, songwriter, librettist, and composer, is a master of musical genres as both performer and composer. Trained as a pianist and cellist, Barab began his career as a cellist performing with principal orchestras in Indianapolis, Cleveland, San Francisco, and Philadelphia. An early interest in contemporary music led to his participation in founding the New Music Quartet in Chicago and the Composer’s Quartet, affiliated with Columbia University, in New York City. As an accomplished viola da gamba player, Barab’s focus on contemporary music was mirrored by an interest in early music, which led him to help found New York Pro Musica (Antiqua), one of the first contemporary ensembles to reintroduce baroque and renaissance music to modern audiences. His protean musicianship as performer included a stint at Birdland, playing in a small string orchestra accompanying Charlie Parker and Stan Getz, and his work as a recording studio musician in the 70s and 80s, performing with popular artists from Elvis Presley to Frank Sinatra and John Lennon.As a composer at home in a variety of styles, Barab composed numerous instrumental works, over 40 operas for adult and young audiences, and hundreds of songs and musical settings for poems and texts by William Blake, William Butler Yeats, Robert Graves, Lewis Carroll, Robert Louis Stevenson, Sara Teasdale, Dorothy Parker, and Kurt Vonnegut, among others. Barab’s works, especially his songs, for which he is most famous, and his whimsical and accessible chamber operas, for which he is best known, remain staples of the contemporary American professional and semi-professional performance repertoire. In 1998, Seymour Barab received the National Opera Association Lifetime Achievement Award.
Amy Elizabeth Wheeler
Amy Elizabeth Wheeler is a versatile vocalist and dynamic performer. Her career path has led from club dates as singer/song writer in New York City to European opera houses and concert stages and numerous collaborative chamber music projects at home and abroad. An appearance in the original MGM film Fame and a tour in a European production of the Broadway musical Hair in the role of Crissy preceded Wheeler’s operatic debut as Fauno in Mozart’s Ascanio in Alba with the Warsaw Chamber Opera in 1990. Her most popular roles with the WCO were Cherubino (Le Nozze di Figaro), Blondchen (Die Entführung aus dem Serail), and Cupid in John Blow’sVenus and Adonis.After leaving the WCO, Wheeler formed The Peregrine Consort and collaborated with leading early music musicians from Sweden and Poland to produce and perform concerts and semi-staged productions, featuring works by Handel, Scarlatti, Galuppi, and composers from the English renaissance. Working with Swedish double-bassist and composer Jan Alm and musicians from the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, she performed Jon Deak’s, The Ugly Duckling (in Swedish translation) and Alm’s Martinson Songs,set to poems by Nobel Laureate Harry Martinson. Wheeler’s concerts have been presented by, among others, American Opera Projects, Poland’s National Philharmonic, the Gotham Early Music Scene, Wratislavia Cantans Festival, and the Gothenburg Konserthus.She recorded and produced What Thing is Love (Peregrine Records), a critically acclaimed album of English lute songs, and recorded as guest artist on the Archguitar label. Wheeler graduated from the Fiorello LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and received a Bachelor of Music in voice from the Manhattan School of Music.
Recorded in 24 96, mixed by Ken Berglund, Swedish Sound, AB, mastered by Torbjörn Samuelsson, Sampling Factory, KB, and produced by AmyElizabeth Wheeler. Album cover illustration: Al Hirschfeld The Al Hirschfeld Foundation; Website, booklet and back cover illustrations: Bianca Jakin. Special thanks to associate producers Marion Wheeler and Carl-Henrik Hansson and to Kristie Born whose idea it was to make thisrecording.