publishing and producing the music of William Grosvenor Neil

Vocal

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Love poem with a knife (2019) Nancy King, soprano, Livia Sellin, violin, Rob Nathanson, guitar, Helmut Jaspar, guitar

Love poem with a knife

For soprano, violin, and two guitars     7 mins.

This setting of “Love poem with a Knife” by US National Youth Poet Laureate, Kara Jackson was, was commissioned by Rob Nathanson of Pro Musica and premiered at the Cameron Art Museum in Wilmington, NC on April 11th, 2019. The Pro Musica artists, Rob Nathanson and Helmut Jasbar, guitars, Livia Sellin, violin, and soprano, Nancy King performed.

Commissioned by Robert and Mindy Nathanson

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Out of Darkness Into Light (2017) Pro Musica Ensemble

Out of Darkness Into Light (2017)

For soprano, violin, guitar, saxophone (soprano, tenor, baritone), bassoon/contrabassoon, digital acoustics      20 mins

Premiered March 30th, 2017 by the Pro Musica ensemble at the Cameron Art Museum in Wilmington, NC

Commission by Robert and Mindy Nathanson

OUT OF DARKNESS INTO LIGHT is really a mystery play interpreting, through-composed and improvisational music, the beautiful prayer-like text Malgosia Sawczuk created following her remarkable restoration work in Chicago’s St. Stanislaus Kostka church.  The church is located near Polonia triangle, which was the heart of the city’s vibrant Polish community when the cathedral opened in 1867, with the cornerstone of the present church building laid in 1877. Over the years, St. Stanislaus and Chicago’s Polish community have changed: the parish diminished in size, and the church and its magnificent art fell into disrepair.    In 2011, St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish began a project of essential repair and restoration of the church building.     Always fascinated by the church, I grew to know artist Malgosia Sawczuk – who operates the Art Objects conservation Lab with her husband – while she painstakingly restored the art of St. Stanislaus to its former glory, including the church’s extraordinary oil paintings on metal substrate which appear in the Stations of the cross, the sculpture, and the magnificent liturgical table.       When asked what it’s like to be in the scaffolding so close to this great art, Sawczuk told me, “It’s like touching the silence in the perfect emptiness.”  That sung to me; that’s what I do with music.     Observing that restoration is an act of defiance against decay, and inspired by Sawczuk’s work,  I  collaborated with her to create Out of Darkness Into Light, which premiered in Chicago in April of 2015.    This chamber version of the piece was directly inspired by this performance.  I want to acknowledge the artistry of Tom Gullion and Josefien Stoppelenburg whose inspired solos I transcribed in my arrangement and honor the new interpreters of this music and their contribution to the spirit of renewal.

Purchase per performance license and receive a link to download files with performance instructions.  $50

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Unusual but rewarding chamber music for open ears for the adventurously inquisitive, a 24- minute contemporary work for soprano, guitar, violin, saxophones, bassoon or contrabassoon, and “digital acoustics” is a welcome opportunity. Performed by an ensemble centered on singer Nancy Kingand guitarist RobertNathanson, trading as Duo Surenõ , Out of Darkness into Light by William Neil presents a text by Malgosia Sawczuk, in which the writer “hears” the words of her unborn child. The content is almost disturbing at times, but culminates in the triumph of birth. King is a commanding custodian of the vocal part, while Nathanson’s clear and fluent guitar lines, ranging from sparse ostinatos to bursts of chordal energy, provide the harmonic foundation. Neil’s music is challenging yet never without shape, the experience being both intense and uplifting.

Paul Fowles CLASSICAL GUITAR

Spiritual Adaptation to Higher Altitudes by William Neil is an ode to the spiritualism gained from rock climbing.  The opening run demonstrates how fascinating the clarinet’s clarion register paired with undampened vibraphone can  be.  Overall, Neil achieves an excellent sense of space.  Derek Emch,  THE CLARINET

William Neil’s phantasmagorical Out of Darkness into Light, is a twenty-four-minute dramatic scena of operatic weight, if not length. (Neil was, for a time, composer-in-residence at the Chicago Lyric Opera.) The text is by art restorer Malgosia Sawczuk, who wrote it while working in a Chicago church, while pregnant.  Trust me, the text is illuminating and powerful regarding both of these experiences.  The Duo (Rob Nathanson, guitar and Nancy King, soprano, is joined by violinist Danijela Zezelj-Gualdi and by Laurent Estoppey on a variety of saxophones.  Helena Kopchick Spencer on bassoons, and the composer on “digital acoustics.”  As you can imagine, the range of sonic experiences is astounding but always illuminates the music and the drama.  Soprano Nancy King is extraordinary.  This is a work that cries out for performance whenever the musical forces and an open-minded audience can be found.  -Al Kunze  SOUNDBOARD

“The range of sonic experiences is astounding but always illuminates the music and the drama.”  SOUNDBOARD MAGAZINE.

"...beautiful sounds! A very effective piece!"   GEORGE CRUMB

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At The Edge of the Body’s Night I (2008) Nancy King, soprano, Rob Nathanson, guitar

At the Edge of the Body’s Night (2008)

For soprano and guitar    24 mins.

Premiered in Honolulu, Hawaii, on NPR Hawaii, March 2008, Nancy King, soprano, Rob Nathanson, guitar.

Commissioned by Robert Nathanson.

At the Edge of the Body’s Night is a setting of Seven Poems by the late poet, Mark Strand.   These poems intrigued me with their potent brevity and mysterious symbolism.  I found in their riddle-like form a concise emotional message, ideal for creating short melodic themes and inspiring the magical relationship between voice and guitar.

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Sleep and the Room (2008) Nancy King, soprano, Rob Nathanson, guitar

Sleep and the Room (2008)

For soprano and guitar     14 mins.

Premiered in Honolulu, Hawaii on KJHF FM, Nancy King, soprano and Rob Nathanson, guitar.

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1. Out of Danger 2. Serious 3. In Paris with You 4. Whatever Happened to Love in this World, Jennifer Eiben, soprano

Cabaret Songs (2002)

For soprano and piano  15 mins.

Premiered at the Temple Theatre, Viroqua, WI-Feb. 2003, Jennifer Ebner, soprano, William Grosvenor Neil, piano

My Cabaret Songs  are an ongoing collection of songs that speak from the heart.  I have sought out poems to interpret musically that really address the human condition. In Out of Danger,  by James Fenton, the works have been woven into a complex fabric of emotion.  Whatever Happened to Love in this World is a setting of lyrics composed by my son, Christoper Neil.  My music seeks to illuminate these subtle nuances and bring power to their meaning.  The harmonic coloring is rich and melodies are lyrical with an emotional power that I believe the vocalist can really embrace.

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1. The Hostile Sun, Barbara Ann Martin, soprano, David Schrader, piano

The Waters Are Shaking the Moon (1996)

For soprano and piano      40 mins.

Premiered on Live from WFMT Radio in Chicago, 1996,  Barbara Ann Martin, soprano,  David Schrader, piano

Commissioned by the Katherine A. Abelson  Fund of the Lester Abelson Foundation

Twelve songs  on poems by D.H. Lawrence

Lawrence, the celebrated poet who shocked the literary establishment of the 20 ‘s with his controversial novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover has written on the subject of love and relationships in much of his poetry and prose. I have been attracted to his ability to evoke the mysteries of love, unlocking some of the forbidden doors in the process.  In The Waters are Shaking the Moon, I have selected poems that explore not only the relationship between lovers but relationships that Lawrence visited many times in his work:   mother and son, father and son, man and nature, adult and child, man and mortality.  WN

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Límites (1979), Cleveland Institute of Music Orchestra, Jean Strazdes, mezzo soprano

Límites (1979)

For mezzo soprano/flute 1/flute 2-picc./oboe/2 clarinets in Bb/bassoon/2 horns in F/2 trumpets in Bb/percussion/piano/violin I (8)/violin II (4)/viola(3)/violoncello (2)/double bass (1)    15 mins.

Premiered at the Cleveland Insitute of Music in June of 1977, Jean Strazdes, mezzo soprano.

Borges’ poem greatly impressed me with its dreamlike images and its rich reflections on the limitations that we face in our lives. The poem mirrors Borges’ own acceptance of his impending blindness. I sought to capture musically the vivid revelations found in each of the stanzas of the poem. The music centers around the note A 440 which tries dramatically to rise to B-flat but is unsuccessful until the very end of the work, underscoring the lines “space, time, and Borges now are leaving me.” (“Espacio y tiempo y Borges ya me dejan.”)

Professional orchestra parts rental  $400

Discounted parts rental price for university, conservatory, and training orchestra performance  $300

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