Dreams of a New Day – Songs of the Black Experience

This is an important album. Its concept and execution make it so. Baritone Will Liverman has assembled a program of art songs by Black composers spanning over a hundred years.

Each composer used the foundation of the classical art song. And each created something different that enriches the genre.

Liverman commissioned Shawn E. Okpebholo’s “Two Black Churches.” The two movements reference a 1963 church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, and the 2015 mass shooting in Charleston, South Carolina. This powerful work receives its world premiere recording. It’s worth the price of the album alone.

The release also includes “Five Songs on Poems by Laurence Hope.” The composer, Henry Burleigh, studied with Antonin Dvorak and is credited with introducing him to Black music. The style is late-19th Century, but the lyrics lift the music above the commonplace.

For “Three Dream Portraits” Margaret Bonds set poems by her friend Langston Hughes. The text goes right to the heart of the Black experience, as true now as when it was written.

Leslie Adams’s “Amazing Grace” isn’t a rehash of the familiar hymn. Rather, it’s an original poem by Adams, set to original music. This 1992 composition is one of exceptional beauty.

Will Liverman has a rich, powerful voice that commands attention. His voice, especially in the upper register, is beautifully expressive. Liverman effectively conveys the emotional substance of these works.

And that’s what makes this such an important album.

Dreams of a New Day
Songs by Black Composers
Will Liverman, baritone; Paul Sanchez, piano
Cedille Records CDR 90000 200

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