The Phoenix Symphony Releases CD, Enemy Slayer: A Navajo Oratorio

CD Available in stores and online starting March 31

PHOENIX, AZ - The Phoenix Symphony is proud to announce the CD release of Enemy Slayer: A Navajo Oratorio on the Naxos label March 31 - the fifth recording for the Symphony and the first CD release since 1994. Recorded live during its sold out world premiere February 7, 2008 at Symphony Hall under the baton of Virginia G. Piper Music Director Michael Christie, the work represents the fusion of Navajo Culture with traditional orchestral art form.

In celebration of The Phoenix Symphony’s 60th Anniversary during the 2007-08 Season, the orchestra commissioned the work combining symphonic music with the traditions of the Southwest. The work for chorus, orchestra, and baritone soloist composed by Music Alive Composer-in-Residence Mark Grey explores a contemporary retelling of an ancient but timeless Navajo epic. Incorporating a libretto of Navajo and English-language text by Navajo librettist Laura Tohe, the world-premiere also included the digital artwork of photographer Deborah O’Grady as a visual backdrop to the music. The Oratorio also featured the talents of internationally-renowned baritone Scott Hendricks and the 120 voices of the all-volunteer Phoenix Symphony Chorus. Of its premiere, The Arizona Republic raved of the score as being “perfectly crafted, impeccably paced, beautifully scored.”

The compact disc will be released in North America on March 31 under catalogue number 8559604 and will be available for purchase through all major retailers and e-tailers as well as at the Phoenix Symphony Gift Shop during Symphony concerts at Symphony Hall.

Previous Phoenix Symphony recordings include releases on the Koch International Classics Label recorded under the direction of former Music Director James Sedares. The three recordings released between 1991 and 1994 include discs devoted to Aaron Copland, American composers Bernard Herrmann and William Schuman, as well as the Grammy-nominated recording of Elmer Bernstein’s score, The Magnificent Seven. An additional recording in 1993 under the New World Records label in collaboration with the Meet the Composer Orchestra Residency Series featured former Music Director James Sedares conducting the Second and Third Symphonies of American composer Daniel Asia.

About Music Alive Composer-in-Residence Mark Grey
Mark Grey is a musician and sound designer now living in Phoenix. Originally from San Francisco, Grey made his Carnegie Hall debut as a composer with Kronos Quartet in November 2003. His music has been performed in such venues as the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall, Théâtre de la Ville in Paris, Barbican Centre in London, Het Muziektheater in Amsterdam, Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall, and Royce Hall in Los Angeles. As a sound designer, he has premiered several major works for composers John Adams, Philip Glass, Steve Reich, Terry Riley and Paul Dresher. He is an artistic collaborator, sound designer and soundscape engineer for John Adams’s critically acclaimed On the Transmigration of Souls, which received the 2004 Pulitzer Prize in Music as well as three Grammy awards in 2005.

About Librettist Dr. Laura Tohe
Librettist Laura Tohe is Diné (Navajo). She was born in Fort Defiance, Arizona and is Tsénáhábiãnii (Sleepy Rock People clan) and born for the Tódich’inii (Bitter Water clan). Dr. Tohe is currently Associate Professor of English at Arizona State University. A poet and scholar, Tohe’s work has been published in the journals Ploughshares, New Letters, Calyx and others. Her chapbook of poetry, Making Friends with Water, has been translated into modern dance and music by The Moving Company in Omaha, Nebraska. In 1999 Dr. Tohe’s book of poetry, No Parole Today, was awarded Poetry of the Year by the Wordcraft Circle of Native American Writers and Storytellers. She co-edited Sister Nations: Native American Women Writers on Community. Her new book, Tséyi’, Deep in the Rock, a book of poetry and photography by Stephen Strom, was listed as a 2005 Southwest Book of the Year.

About Baritone Scott Hendricks
Scott Hendricks, a native of San Antonio, Texas, has emerged as one today’s most versatile baritones. He is an alumnus of the prestigious Houston Grand Opera Studio, and is a recipient of a Richard Tucker Foundation Career Grant. A frequent guest of opera companies across the country, Mr. Hendricks has performed with Opera Colorado, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, San Francisco Opera, and Santa Fe Opera. Mr. Hendricks made his New York recital debut under the auspices of the prestigious Marilyn Horne Foundation and was an active member for many years. He also toured extensively with John Wustman as a soloist with the Complete Songs of Franz Schubert Recital Series. Scott has performed with the Gewandhaus Orchester in Leipzig, the Rotterdam Philharmonic, the Orchestra of St. Lukes, and maintains a close relationship with the Minnesota Orchestra.

About Music Director Michael Christie
Michael Christie begins his fourth season as the Virginia G. Piper Music Director of The Phoenix Symphony with the 2008-09 season. He also serves as Music Director of the Colorado Music Festival and of the Brooklyn Philharmonic. He has appeared with orchestras across the United States, Europe, and Canada, as well as with the Finnish National Opera, Queensland Opera, and Zürich Opera. In 1995, Mr. Christie was awarded a special prize at the First International Sibelius Conductor’s Competition. Following the competition, he became an apprentice conductor with the Chicago Symphony. Michael Christie graduated from the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music with a bachelor’s degree in trumpet performance. His conducting teachers have included Daniel Barenboim, Robert Spano, Eiji Oue, and Peter Jaffe.

About The Phoenix Symphony
The Phoenix Symphony has been proudly serving the citizens of the Phoenix metropolitan area and Arizona since 1947. What began as an occasional group of musicians performing a handful of concerts each year (in a city of fewer than 100,000 people) today serves more than 300,000 people annually, with 275 concerts and presentations throughout the greater Phoenix area and beyond.

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