|Compositions|

Aria


Aria

Organ Solo
This aria received its premier at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on December 4, 2005. The composer’s musical language is contemporary but completely satisfying. The lyricism and the beautiful formal elements are engaging to the player and the listener.

Composed: 2005
Duration: 3:00
Publisher: E. C. Schirmer Music Company
Catalog Number(s): 8357


Reviews:

This organ solo was commissioned by and is dedicated to Carson Cooman, who gave the first performance in 2005. This publication incorporates a 2015 revision. It is a contemplative solo that calls for the use of solo reeds, flutes, and principal chorus. Suggested registrations are included on the score. This composition of medium difficulty is worth the effort to learn. Rubato is used throughout, with the tempo beginning as Adagio and moving up to a moderate tempo. This is a nice, well-written selection to add to any recital program.
CrossAccent, Summer 2016

Aria



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Aria 2017-10-03T00:10:52+00:00

The Star in the Pail

The Star in the Pail

TTBB (also available in SSAA and SATB with piano accompaniment)

A setting of six poems of David McCord. Commissioned by the MeistUrsingers chorus of the Tavern Club, Boston, in honor of Elliot Forbes.

Movements:
Earth Song
The Cow Has A Cud
The Starfish
The Star In The Pail
A Thing That I Love
Epitaph For A Waiter

Composed: 2004
Text: David McCord
Duration: 9:00
Publisher: Pear Tree Press Music Publishers distributed by Subito Music Corp.
Catalog Number(s): PTM 471 (TTBB)
PTM 472 (SSAA)
PTM 473 (SATB)


Reviews:

“Two of those regulars were performed on this program, titled “Premiere! American Poetry Settings.” One was Ronald Perera, who was on hand for the New York premiere of “The Star in the Pai,” six songs set to whimsical poems by David McCord. Though the texts are pretty light, Mr. Perera’s pleasure in the fanciful words comes through in his appealing, quirky music, which the choristers sang with rich sound and liveliness.”
The New York Times Review Saturday, May 25, 2013

“Adding a touch of whimsical humor to the first half were Ronald Perera’s “The Star in the Pail,” cleverly imagined settings of six children’s poems by David McCord. Particularly, the perky, percussive “The Cow Has a Cud” and “The Starfish,” with its comical barroom piano vamp, drew chuckles from the audience. A part-time Cape resident, Perera was on hand to provide a brief, insightful commentary.”
Cape Cod Times 2/7/2006

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Audio Excerpt:

Performed by the Chamber singers of the Chatham Chorale. Conducted by Margaret Bossi, director.

Earth Song:
The Cow Has A Cud:
The Starfish:
The Star in the Pail 2017-10-03T00:10:52+00:00

When Music Sounds

When Music Sounds

SATB Chorus with Piano Accompaniment
Commissioned with the assistance of the Fromm Foundation for Thomas F. Kelly’s “First Nights” course of 2015 at Harvard University.

Composed: 2015
Text: Music (Walter de la Mare)
Music When Soft Voices Die (Percy Bysshe Shelley)
Musician Wrestle Everywhere (Emily Dickinson)
Duration: 9:00
Publisher: Pear Tree Press Music Publishers distributed by Subito Music Corp.
Catalog Number(s): 80504011


Reviews:

“A beautiful piece, perfectly suited to its purpose. Thrilling to its first audience, this is a work that shows how beautifully crafted music can have an immediate appeal.”
Thomas Forrest Kelly, Morton B. Knafel Professor of Music, Harvard University

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Audio Excerpts:
Performed by The Harvard University Choir, Director Edward Elwyn Johns; members of Harvard’s Collegium Musicum, DirectorAndrew Clark; Thomas Sheehan, Piano

1. Music

2. Music When Soft Voices Die

When Music Sounds 2017-10-03T00:10:52+00:00

A Soldier’s Carol

A Soldier’s Carol

SATB Chorus unaccompanied
Commissioned by the Harvard University Choir, Edward Jones, Organist and Choirmaster of Harvard Memorial Church, for the 2014 Carol Service. This setting of the well known Christmas poem ‘I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day’ restores some of the language that is commonly left out of most hymnals. This setting restores some of the anguish associated with the Civil War and allows for a tension not often associated with this text. A powerful setting.

“The title of the original Longfellow poem is ‘Christmas Bells.’ Charles Appleton Longfellow was the eldest son of the famous poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Fannie Elizabeth Appleton, who lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In March of 1863, with the Civil War then in its third year, nineteen year old Charley ran away to Washington to join the Union Army. He presented himself for enlistment to the commander of Battery A of the 1st Massachusetts Artillery, who knew the boy. The officer contacted Henry who reluctantly gave his permission for the boy to enlist.

Charley proved himself such an exceptional soldier that he was soon offered a commission as a Second Lieutenant of Artillery. He first saw action at the Battle of Chancellorsville. In June he was briefly invalided home following a bout of typhoid fever and malaria, rejoining his unit in August. Then in November, during the Battle of New Hope Church, Charley was shot through the left shoulder, the bullet just grazing his spine. He narrowly avoided being paralyzed. Henry received word of Charley’s wounding on December 1, and he and a younger son went immediately to Washington, where Charley was in hospital, and brought him home to Cambridge. It was while nursing his son in his slow recovery that Henry Wadsworth Longfellow composed this poem during Christmas, 1863.” -Ronald Perera

Composed: 2014
Text: Christmas Bells (1863) by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)
Duration: 4:40
Publisher: E. C. Schirmer Music Company
Catalog Number(s): 8320


Reviews:

“Ronald Perera’s A SOLDIER’S CAROL was the powerful centerpiece of Harvard University’s 105th Annual Christmas Carol Services in December 2014. Longfellow’s moving poem was a fitting commemoration to the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, and Perera’s haunting setting memorialized the centenary of the start of World War One in a building that itself commemorates the sacrifice of Harvard’s own in that conflict. It was one of those remarkable occasions when word, music, and environment inform each other to create a beautiful whole.”
Edward Elwyn Jones, Organist and Choirmaster, Harvard Memorial Church





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Performance by Harvard University Choir, Edward Elwyn Jones, conductor.

A Soldier’s Carol 2017-10-03T00:10:52+00:00

The Yellow Wallpaper

The Yellow Wallpaper

A Chamber Opera in Two Acts
The Yellow Wallpaper is based on a Charlotte Perkins Gilman short story that was first published in New England Magazine in 1892. Set in a New England summer house in 1899, it describes the fate of Charlotte, a young wife and mother suffering from postpartum depression whose treatment — strict bed rest and a total absence of mental stimulation — leads to her emotional and intellectual decline. A contemporary tonal score with folk inflections.

Opera Cast:

Nell, a young girl, Realtor’s daughter (Soprano)
Emily, a young girl, Realtor’s daughter (Soprano)
Ed, an older workman (Bass)
Len, a younger workman (Tenor)
Realtor, a widower, father of Nell and Emily (Tenor)
John, a doctor, married to Charlotte (Baritone)
Jennie, John’s sister (soprano)
Charlotte, married to John, has “neurasthenia” (Soprano)
Dr. Silas Weir Mitchell, historical figure (Male voice*)
Woman in the Wall (Soprano**)
Mary, Ed’s wife, the baby’s nurse (contralto)
Women’s chorus (SSA, at least 6-9 singers)
Drunken clarinettist (male)

* This role involves almost exclusively a heightened speech (“Sprechstimme”) for which only rhythms and relative pitch are notated.

Instrumentation: Flute (doubling piccolo and alto flute), oboe, clarinet (doubling bass clarinet), bassoon, horn, trumpet, harp, piano (doubling celesta or, optionally, synthesizer), percussion (one player), string quintet (or small string orchestra)

Special: Onstage “drunken” clarinettist role may be played by the orchestra clarinet.

Based on the short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Libretto by: Constance Congdon
Original Conception/
Artistic Collaboration:
Mark Harrison
Composed: 1989
Duration: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Publisher: Music Associates of New York, distributed by Jerona Music


Reviews:

“Perera’s music is well-made, tuneful, gratifying to voices and resourcefully orchestrated for 14 players. The opera is ingeniously organized, from the point of view of color, variety, thematic interrelationship and development.”
Boston Globe 5/19/89

“Perera’s music captures the odd drama of the story, and makes some very beautiful sounds along the way. The “chamber” orchestra is rather large, particularly in the percussion, but the scoring is of a rare transparency. Perera also writes vocal lines flattering to singers, and he knows how to compose ensembles of all sizes — a new musical voice worth hearing again.”
New York Daily News 12/11/92

“Mr. Perera… provided a pretty, eclectic score, full of melodies and skillfully orchestrated.”
New York Times

“The music is pleasing, often with a melodic line for each line of conversation – which gives a modern effect — rather than a melody sustained for an aria.”

Associated Press 12/10/92

“The libretto (by Constance Congdon) is an ingenious opening out of the highly interior novella, and it’s musically and visually opulent.”

Village Voice 12/22/92

“The New York premiere of Ronald Perera’s The Yellow Wallpaper was presented . . . in a noteworthy production . . . . MSM’s production made a persuasive case for the opera . . . . The principal singers [were] uniformly commendable.”

Opera News

Opera



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Excerpt is from Act I, scene I. Singers include Jane Bryden, David Ripley, and Karen Smith Emerson. Orchestra conducted by Dennis Burkh.

The Yellow Wallpaper 2017-10-03T00:10:52+00:00

The Araboolies of Liberty Street

The Araboolies of Liberty Street

An Opera in One Act
Based on the book by Sam Swope, with a libretto by Constance Congdon, The Araboolies of Liberty Street is designed for performance in schools where virtually no production facilities may be available. In this humorous treatment of the themes of tolerance and diversity, the kids of Liberty Street make it possible for an exotic new family to move into their conformist neighborhood, which is ruled over by the mean General and Mrs. Pinch. Performed by both adults and children, the opera is intended for use by opera outreach or young audience development programs for children in grades 4-8 and their families. The style is contemporary tonal musical theater.

Opera Cast:

General Pinch (Tenor)
Mrs. Pinch (Soprano)
Joy, a young teenage girl (Soprano)
Boboolie, a young teenage boy Araboolie (Soprano, trouser role)
Momoolie Araboolie (Mezzo-soprano)
Popoolie Araboolie (Baritone)
Kid’s Chorus, (Treble voices, 6-8 minimum)

Instrumentation: piano, 1 percussion (trap set, various small hand percussion)

Libretto by: Constance Congdon, Based on the book by Sam Swope
Composed: 2001
Duration: about 45 minutes
Publisher: Pear Tree Press Music Publishers distributed by Subito Music Corp.
Catalog Number(s): Vocal Score: 80500601
Percussion Part: 80500602
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It’s A Bus from The Araboolies of Liberty Street
Performed by the Manhattan School of Music Education and Outreach department.

The Araboolies of Liberty Street 2017-10-03T00:10:52+00:00

S.

S.

An Opera in Two Acts
Based on a novel by John Updike, S. is set in present-day Boston and Boston’s North Shore, in Florida, in England and Holland, at an ashram in Arizona, and on an island in the Bahamas. It follows Sarah Worth, a wealthy doctor’s wife and a loving mother, as she flees her suburban life to join her guru, a charismatic Hindu religious leader known as the Arhat, at his ashram in Arizona. A hilarious romp through ’80s American culture. Contemporary tonal music with Indian raga elements.

Opera Cast:

Sarah Worth, an upper-class WASP in her mid-forties (Lyric soprano)
Charles Worth, Sarah’s husband, a doctor (Lyric baritone)
Pearl, Sarah and Charles’ college-age daughter (Coloratura soprano)
The Arhat, a founder of Ashram Arhat, Forrest, AZ (Lyric tenor)
Durga, chief administrator of the ashram (Dramatic mezzo-soprano)
Alinga, a staff member at the ashram (Lyric soprano)
Gilman, Charles’ lawyer (Bass-baritone)
Mother, Sarah’s mother, a widow retired in Florida (Lyric mezzo soprano)
Midge, Sarah’s best friend on the North Shore (Soprano)
Miles Murrow, a TV talk show host (Sprechstimme role)
Swiss Banker (French speaking role)
Ducky Bradford, Charles’ investment advisor and Dr. Podhoretz, Sarah’s dentist (Tenor)
Sheriff Yardley, Sheriff of Dorado County, AZ and Dr. Epstein, Sarah’s psychiatrist (Bass)
Chorus (minimum about 24, evenly distributed SATB); travelers, sannyasins, local people, TV crew, IRS agents and others (including a few small designated solo parts such as Fritz, Racher, Navajo Man, Minister, etc).

Instrumentation: 2 flutes (2nd doubling piccolo and alto flute), 2 oboes (2nd doubling E.H.), 2 clarinets (2nd doubling alto sax, bass clarinet), 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, harp, percussion (2 players), sitar (may be performed on synthesizer), optional tambura, strings. Alternative chamber version: 2 pianos (2nd doubling synthesizer), optional tambura, percussion (2 players).

Libretto by: Constance Congdon, Based on the novel by John Updike
Original Conception/
Artistic Collaboration:
Mark Harrison
Composed: 1995
Duration: 2 hours, 25 minutes
Publisher: E. C. Schirmer Music Company
Catalog Number(s): Libretto, 5751A
Piano/Vocal Score, 5751
Full score and parts available for rental.


Reviews:

“Perera took a bold step six years ago in his first opera, The Yellow Wallpaper, where we watch and listen as a woman sings her way down to madness. In S. he takes another bold step, setting to music Updike’s epistolary portrait of a vastly different and far more interesting person: Sarah is intelligent, strong, witty, passionate, and cunning. Entirely without malice, she knows what she wants and gets it… Perera’s music, memorable mainly for its texture and style, does beautifully in setting mood, defining character, underlining humor, and distinguishing the sounds of two worlds.”

The Valley Advocate-9/28-10/4/95





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Excerpt is from Act I, scene 5. Singers include Jane Bryden, James Maddelena, Brenda Dawe, Paulina Stark, David Ripley, Jon Humphrey, and Stephen Curylo, with Monica Jakuc and Clifton J. Noble, Jr., pianos, and Peter Tanner and John Kelly, percussion. Paul Flight, conductor.





S. 2017-10-03T00:10:52+00:00

Improvisation for Loudspeakers (CD Recording)

Improvisation for Loudspeakers

Electroacoustic music available on CD

Composed: 1969
Duration: 5:00
Publisher: Pear Tree Press Music Publishers distributed by Subito Music Corp.
Catalog Number(s): PTM 732 cd
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Audio Excerpt:

Excerpt is from the beginning of the piece.

Improvisation for Loudspeakers (CD Recording) 2017-10-03T00:10:53+00:00

Alternate Routes (CD Recording)

Alternate Routes

CD Recording

Alternate Routes was composed as the score for a dance work, growing out of the tension between two materials, one dense and percussive, the other transparently fragile. These alternate throughout in taking the predominant role. The work is made up entirely of electronic sounds produced on a Moog synthesizer.

Composed: 1971
Duration: 8:00
Publisher: Pear Tree Press Music Publishers distributed by Subito Music Corp.
Catalog Number(s): PTM 734 CD


Reviews:

Ronald Perera composed “Alternate Routes” entirely on a Moog synthesizer at Dartmouth College. Conceived originally as a dance piece with sounds of widely varying “kinetic properties,” it is a fascinating and well-crafted piece, making great use of tension between dense percussion-like and long, transparent materials.

WNCN Program Guide, NYC 4/77

Alternate Routes (CD Recording) 2017-10-03T00:10:53+00:00

Hymnos

Hymnos

Organ Solo
Organist Grant Moss gave Hymnos its premiere performance in a recital at Christ Church Cathedral, Springfield, Massachusetts, on October 20, 2013.

The ancient Greek word “hymnos” gave us the Latin word “hymnus” and the English word “hymn.” Hymnos is replete with many well-known, well-loved hymn tunes including: MICHAEL, STAR IN THE EAST, ALL MY HOPE ON GOD IS FOUNDED, LOVE DIVINE, ALL LOVES EXCELLING (HYFRYDOL), AMAZING GRACE, JESUS SHALL REIGN WHERE’ER THE SUN, HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, YE WATCHERS AND YE HOLY ONES, and JERUSALEM, MY HAPPY HOME.



Reviews:

Commissioned in honor of organist and choirmaster Peter Beardsley on his retirement from Christ Church Cathedral in Springfield, MA, this work comprises two movements. The first movement is based on Star in the East from South Harmony, and the second is based on Michael and Hyfrydol. These three main tunes are personal favorites of Beardsley and the composer. Portions of additional hymn tunes are stated throughout. Registrations and rhythmic groupings of septuplets and octuplets at times give an ethereal effect. Changing and irregular meters are prominent, as well as an array of dynamics. This music will be best served when presented on a well-voiced, three-manual instrument by an organist familiar with the instrument, as frequent registration changes are employed. It is suitable for recital, hymn festival introduction, or other special-presentation occasions.

CrossAccent, Spring 2015

Hymnos



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I. Star

II. All Loves Excelling

Hymnos 2017-10-03T00:10:53+00:00

Waypoints


Waypoints

Piano Solo
Waypoints for piano was written with intermediate to advanced piano students in mind. Each of the first eight little pieces exploits a particular pianistic and compositional technique, often making reference to classic works in the literature. The final set of variations has its own theme, but uses each of the previous eight pieces in turn as the basis for the variations. The title refers to the navigational points that satellite navigation systems use to guide us on a journey by land, sea, or air. In this case, the metaphorical journey passes points of reference that are at least somewhat familiar to every musician.

Composed: 2011
Duration: 16:00
Publisher: Pear Tree Press Music Publishers distributed by Subito Music Corp.
Catalog Number(s): PTM 171
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Audio Excerpt:
Performed by Clifton J. Noble, piano

9. Reprise Variations

Waypoints 2017-10-03T00:10:53+00:00

Reverberations

Reverberations

Organ & Electronic Media

Composed: 1970
Duration: 8:00
Publisher: E. C. Schirmer Music Company
Catalog Number(s): Score, 1486
Electronic Media, 1486A


Reviews:

“Reverberations” is a sequence of continuous, large and small sections and gestures, sometimes repeating, that concentrate on one parameter, sound, or performance technique at a time…. Perera is to be commended for his clear, uncluttered score and simple, precise instructions…. Of all the organ and tape pieces discussed here, “Reverberations” offers the performer the greatest intellectual stimulation.

Jeanie Rebecca Little, Serial, Aleatoric, and Electronic Techniques in American Organ Music Published Between 1960 and 1972. (Ph.D. Thesis, University of Iowa, 1975)





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Reverberations 2017-10-03T00:10:53+00:00

Fantasy Variations


Fantasy Variations

Piano and Synthesizer(s)

Composed: 1975
Duration: 23:00
Publisher: Pear Tree Press Music Publishing distributed by Subito Music
Catalog Number(s): PTM 7111

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Variation IV, “Switch,” performed by Monica Jakuc

Fantasy Variations 2017-10-03T00:10:53+00:00

Bright Angels


Bright Angels

For organ, percussion, and recorded audio
Movements:

  1. Messengers
  2. The Trumpet
  3. Hosannas

Composed: 1977
Duration: 10:00
Publisher: E. C. Schirmer Music Company
Catalog Number(s): Score, 0244
Electronic Media, 0244A


Reviews:

A challenging piece for an organ of at least two manuals, percussion, and tape. The first of the three movements, “Messengers,” begins with the organist cuing the tape, which produces what the score calls “crescendo and panning” as the percussionist effects a crescendo on the marimba. The organ’s entrance is quiet, building to an eventual thematic superimposition of simple triads in dissonant combinations. Quick flurries of notes follow, each ending in sustained clusters, a minor second, or a unison. The movement closes with a return to the sustained notes that marked the first appearance of the organ. Movement number two, “The Trumpet,” centers around a tonal cluster that is shuffled between the bass pedals and the lower manual, set against staccato bursts in the top manual and the percussion; the organ holds the final cluster beyond the end of the tape. The most conventional movement, “Hosannas,” follows, complete with key and time signature. The tape establishes a B flat tonal center as the organ, using the 8′ Trumpet stop, proclaims a series of fanfares in fourths and fifths. These figures accelerate to a cadential cluster, then as a triplet ostinato is established by the marimba, a rapid and hypnotic Phil Glass-like pattern begins in the manuals. Various new pitch centers fade in and out on the tape, the organ breaks into a series of short trills in fourths, and a majestic long chord, again based on juxtaposed triads, but this time held longest by the vibraphone, brings the work to an end.

Contemporary Keyboard, February 1980

Bright Angels



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Bright Angels 2017-10-03T00:10:53+00:00

Three Waltzes for Four Hands


Three Waltzes for Four Hands

Piano Four-hands
Movements:

  1. The Knucklecracker Waltz
  2. The Blues Danube Waltz
  3. Oh-De-Lady-Who? Waltz
Composed: 1986
Duration: 3:00
Publisher: Pear Tree Press Music Publishers distributed by Subito Music Corp.
Catalog Number(s): PTM 201
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Three Waltzes for Four Hands 2017-10-03T00:10:53+00:00

Five Meditations on “Wondrous Love”


Five Meditations on “Wondrous Love”

Organ

Composed: 1986
Duration: 5:00
Publisher: E. C. Schirmer Music Company
Catalog Number(s): 4145
Five Meditations on “Wondrous Love” 2017-10-03T00:10:53+00:00

Triptych


Triptych

Organ

This three-movement suite was commissioned by the AGO chapter in Berkshire, Massachusetts. The first movement, “L’Annunziazione,” is a large-scale fantasy, the second, “L’Adorazione,” is a short arioso, and the third, “L’Ascensione,” is a large toccata. The movements are neither too long nor too difficult, and the pieces could be used individually in services or recitals.

Movements:

  1. L’Annunziazione
  2. L’Adorazione
  3. L’Ascensione
Composed: 1997
Duration: 8:00
Publisher: E. C. Schirmer Music Company
Catalog Number(s): 5165


Reviews:

This suite was commissioned by the AGO chapter in Berkshire, Massachusetts, with funding from that and other chapters, organ builders, and individuals. “L’Annunziazione” is a large-scale fantasy, “L’Adorazione” is a beautiful short arioso, and “L’Ascensione” is a large toccata. All three of the movements are typical of those genres… The movements are neither too long nor too difficult, and the pieces could be used individually in services as well as in recitals. This is fine American organ music worthy of consideration.

The Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians

This work was written to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Berkshire (Mass.) AGO Chapter. Its three movements are entitled “L’Annunziazione,” “L’Adorazione,” and “L’Ascensione.”

The musical materials and fervent mood of each movement superbly match the sacred theme in each case, but the piece also stands up perfectly well as “absolute” music. “L’Annunziazione” is rhapsodic in character, and its three distinct themes flow naturally and inevitably into one another in a highly symmetrical (A-B-C-B-A) form. The frequently changing time signatures pose no problem since the rhythm arises out of the clearly expressed thematic ideas. “L’Adorazione” is a slow lullaby in which the composer takes a fresh look at classic melody and accompaniment in the key of C major. Some of the phraseology is Bachian in character (likewise some of the sequences in the middle section), and one could wish that Perera had introduced a proper variation instead of the simple return of the theme. “L’Ascensione” begins like a French toccata but without any well-marked theme in the pedal. The middle section features “open harmonies” in fourths and fifths, with a theme that is subsequently counterpointed against the toccata. This is a strongly expressive work of great formal clarity, written in an up-to-date tonal harmonic language. It is well conceived for the organ, but not technically demanding; the three-manual writing in the outer movements can easily be modified to suit smaller instruments.

The American Organist 5/98

Thanks are due to the Berkshire chapter of the American Guild of Organists, which commissioned this work to celebrate their 50th anniversay. Perera draws his inspiration from three significant moments in the story of Christ: the Annunciation, the Adoration of the Child, and the Ascension. The first movement poses dazzling flourishes in dialogue between manuals and pedal; elsewhere, the figuration alternates with chords on opposing manuals. In the second movement, a limpid flute melody soars above rocking chords to create an engaging, if rather active, lullaby. The work concludes with a flashy toccata in which the two hands frequently duplicate each other’s motions, as is true of the first movement. Spiced with chromaticism, the work remains tonal and would readily appeal to conservative audiences unaccustomed to pungent, glaring dissonances. Because so many of the manual gestures appear in unison at the octave, both together and in alternation, the outer movements may be mastered with relative ease; the middle movement requires a bit more coordination. Recommended for both church and concert performance.

The Diapason 11/99

Triptych



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Triptych 2017-10-03T00:10:54+00:00

Sonatina for Violin and Piano


Sonatina

Violin and Piano

A violin arrangement of the Sonatina for Viola and Piano
Movements:

  1. Elegy
  2. Dance
  3. Rondo
Composed: 1998
Duration: 8:00
Publisher: Pear Tree Press Music Publishing distributed by Subito Music
Catalog Number(s): PTM 102
Sonatina for Viola and Piano



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Sonatina for Violin and Piano 2017-10-03T00:10:54+00:00

Two Donne Songs


Two Donne Songs

Medium Voice and Piano

Written when the composer was twenty, these songs for medium voice and piano have a youthful exuberance and innocence that will be appealing to students as well as to mature singers.

Movements:

  1. Go, and catch a falling star
  2. Song (“Sweetest Love, I do not go”)
Composed: 1961, 1962
Duration: 6:30
Publisher: Pear Tree Press Music Publishing distributed by Subito Music
Catalog Number(s): PTM 161
Two Donne Songs for Viola and Piano



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Two Donne Songs 2017-10-03T00:10:54+00:00

Dove Sta Amore


Dove Sta Amore

Soprano Voice and Tape

Composers engraving of “Dove Sta Amore” for soprano and quadraphonic tape (two-channel version). Many complex markings allow for broad interpretations of the work.

Composed: 1969 (rev. 1971)
Duration: 7:00
Publisher: E. C. Schirmer Music Company
Catalog Number(s): 0149, Score
0149A, Electronic Media
Dove Sta Amore for Viola and Piano



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Dove Sta Amore 2017-10-03T00:10:54+00:00

Apollo Circling


Apollo Circling

High Voice and Piano

“Apollo Circling” contains four lyric songs for high voice and piano. Commissioned by the Paderewski Fund. Based on James Dickey’s commemorative poem “For the First Manned Moon Orbit.”

Movements:

  1. So Long
  2. The Moon Comes
  3. You Lean Back
  4. You Hang Mysteriously
Composed: 1972
Duration: 15:00
Publisher: E. C. Schirmer Music Company
Catalog Number(s): 0151


Reviews:

Spec. high voice (c1-c3); 14:30; titles are So Long; The Moon Comes; You Lean Back; You Hang Mysteriously; although Perera describes these as “four lyric songs,” there is considerable drama here; primarily declamatory, disjunct with many difficult high notes; technically, musically, and interpretively difficult; atonal, with tonal areas; stark and intense, with a cold, eerie opening and impassioned close; on the experience of the astronauts’visit to the moon; an evocative, unusual, powerful contemporary cycle; recorded by D’Armand.

A Singer’s Guide to the American Art Song 1870-1980
by Victoria Etnier Villamil (The Scarecrow Press, Inc., Metuchen, NJ & London, 1993)

Somehow, Ronald Perera has devised a set of songs, almost a cycle, that captures and conveys the cold, lonely, earth-longing, stream-of-thought text by James Dickey (“For the First Manned Moon Orbit,” 1969)…. The means by which Perera achieves success in setting Dickey’s text is a fascinating study in itself. He requires of the singer a two-octave range (from C to C2) with the flexibility to negotiate sometimes angular lines, sustained notes, and sudden sharply contrasting dynamic colors. In addition, he must meet the challenge of maintaining interest and bridging the gaps in the often-segmented melodic phrases. For the pianist there are long, stark single notes or chords sometimes interrupted by computer-like twittering rhythms, passages of pointillistic complexity, utilization of the entire scope and color spectrum of the keyboard, a marvelous interplay of the three pedals, and vital, driving ostinato figures that build to striking climaxes. The composer assists both artists with a generous supply of the usual musical road signs in Italian as well as with many evocative mood indications: cold, without expression, agitated, controlled, hushed, fantastic, languid, like drops, with tenderness, with controlled excitement, warm, lyric, passionately, etc. All of these reveal a song-writer of sensitive imagination, yet one who knows what he wants and how, by craft, to obtain it. This is music of calculated spontaneity that commands the listener’s attention… Congratulations are due Ronald Perera for his creation of a musical setting of a text that is both timely and timeless. He and James Dickey have given us a work that lyrically pinpoints an historical milestone in this country’s exploration of space and delves into the minds of the men who experienced that fabulous adventure.

Music Library Association, NOTES

Apollo Circling



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Sleep Now


Sleep Now

High Voice and Piano

Winner of the 1990 NATS Art Song Competition. Five songs with text by James Joyce.

Movements:

  1. I hear an army
  2. Ecce Puer
  3. She weeps over Rahoon
  4. The twilight turns from amethyst
  5. Sleep now
Composed: 1985
Duration: 13:00
Publisher: Boosey & Hawkes
Catalog Number(s): VAB 301


Reviews:

Ronald Perera’s “Sleep Now,” to poems of James Joyce, received its premiere performance. Written for Smith while Perera was on sabbatical leave in London during the fall of 1985, the five songs are written with exquisite sensitivity to the rhythms of speech, and indeed, resist any imposition of regular foot tapping. The melodic lines, which have a floating, modal flavor, are usually quite long — the last note of a phrase is often held longer than one might expect, as if the singer is to create a sense of unending resonance. The sustaining pedal of the piano, with a few exceptions, is in constant use, contributing to the dreaminess….Though the songs are simple and direct in their expression, there is nothing simple about the writing, and each subsequent performance will help release the music from the printed page. The performance Sunday night represented a good start for a composition that will hopefully have a long and fruitful life.

The Morning Union (Springfield, MA) 10/23/86

Sleep Now 2017-10-03T00:10:54+00:00

Shakespeare Songs


Shakespeare Songs

High Voice and Piano

Movements:

  1. Take, O take those lips away
  2. Hark, hark! The lark
  3. Full fathom five
  4. Where the bee sucks
  5. O mistress mine
Composed: 1985
Duration: 8:00
Publisher: Pear Tree Press Music Publishing distributed by Subito Music
Catalog Number(s): PTM 131


Reviews:

Perera has set five familiar Shakespearean song texts: “Take, O take those lips away;” “Hark, hark! the lark;” “Full fathom five;” “Where the bee sucks;” and “O mistress mine.” The settings are vivid and varied, yet simple in expression. Perera has successfully assimilated elements of the new neo-romantic style into his own expressive, eclectic style. The marriage of styles seems natural and inevitable.

Daily News, Springfield (MA) 3/3/87

The Perera songs are effectively written for the voice and piano and cover a number of styles; the most appealing were the first, in which an earlier setting of “Take, O take those lips away” melts into something more contemporary and the fourth, “Where the bee sucks,” set in a lively, jazzy way.

Boston Globe 6/3/87

Shakespeare Songs 2017-10-03T00:10:55+00:00

String Quartet

String Quartet

Two violins, viola, and cello

Commissioned by South Mountain Concerts. Premiered Pittsfield, MA, September 16, 2004, by the Muir Quartet.

Composed: 2004
Duration: 18:00
Publisher: Pear Tree Press Music Publishing distributed by Subito Music
Catalog Number(s): 80500311


Reviews:

The final work [of the concert] was [Ronald] Perera’s “String Quartet,” written in 2004 but not heard in Northampton until this concert. The players—Joel Pitchon, violin; Romina Kostare, violin; Ronald Gorevic, viola, and Volcy Pelletier, cello—did justice to this challenging and satisfying work.

The second of its three movements was a set of “Variations on a Mandolin Tune,” written as an homage to Perera’s grandfather, who was a concert mandolinist. The movement was played with deep feeling, and was the high point of the concert.

Mark Moroford, The Daily Hampshire Gazette, Northampton, MA 11/2013

Perera’s String Quartet was cast in three movements, ranging in character from an acerbic, angular opening through an unabashed sentimental second movement to a straightforward, sunny C major finale.

A stark, assertive opening fanfare built of tritones, sixths, and sevenths provided much of first movement’s impetus and language. The movement unfolded with a disarming mercurial abandon, hopping about in complex meters and teasing the ear with sudden dramatic swerves.

Perera’s program note indicated that the second movement, Variations on a Mandolin Tune, was “an homage to my grandfather, Gino L. Perera, an Italian musician and painter whose early career as a classical mandolinist took him to many American cities in the 1890’s.”

Perera drew this simple, charming G major theme through successive variations of increasing complexity, at first merely decorous and elegant, but gradually clouded by rhythmic and chordal complications until a clever fugue brought round its cheery restatement and gentle final cadence.

The finale was a galloping rondo with little of the rhythmic or harmonic quirkiness that spiced the opening.

Perera put a bird-like main theme through impressive paces. and introduced as an episode a chorale-like tune against arpeggiated chords reminiscent of the Pilgrim’s March from Harold in Italy.

The Republican, Springfield, MA 9/2004

String Quartet for Viola and Piano



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Piano Trio


Piano Trio

Piano Trio: Violin, cello, and piano

Commissioned by Joel Pitchon. The second movement is based on the third movement (“The Symphony”) from The White Whale.
Movements:

  1. Incisivo
  2. Adagio cantabile e sostenuto (“The Symphony”)
  3. Scorrevole
Composed: 2002
Duration: 17:00
Publisher: Pear Tree Press Music Publishing distributed by Subito Music
Catalog Number(s): PTM 301
Piano Trio for Viola and Piano



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Piano Trio 2017-10-03T00:10:55+00:00

Breathing


Breathing

Soprano, Baritone and Keyboard

Text based on the poem “Breathe Into Me” by Gary Lowery. A piece especially appropriate for a wedding.

Composed: 2003
Duration: 3:00
Publisher: Pear Tree Press Music Publishing distributed by Subito Music
Catalog Number(s): PTM 221
Breathing for Viola and Piano



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Breathing 2017-10-03T00:10:55+00:00

Three Poems of Günter Grass

Three Poems of Günter Grass
Mezzo-Soprano and Flute (doubling piccolo, alto flute), clarinet (doubling bass clarinet, alto sax), violin, viola, cello, piano, tape

Commissioned by Boston Musica Viva. Three poems by the German author reflecting on Germany after World War II. The first poem, “Gleisdreieck,” was inspired by the train station of the same name on Berlin’s elevated railway. The second poem, “Klappstühle” (“Folding Chairs”), uses the chairs as a metaphor for the impermanence of home caused by the war. The final poem, “Schlaflos” (“Sleepless”), is the nightmarish vision of a man with insomnia counting himself to sleep by recounting his life. Eventually he confronts his own and his nation’s guilt, for which it seems there is no atonement.

Crossing the Meridian CD cover Crossing the Meridian is the title work on the CD Crossing the Meridian, which offers a collection of Ronald Perera’s works for chamber music with voice. It includes Crossing the Meridian, Three Poems of Günter Grass, Visions and Alternate Routes. Performed by the Boston Musica Viva. Soloists include Elsa Charlston, John Aler, Jane Bryden, and Karen Smith Emerson. On CRI.

Available on:
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Movements:

  1. Gleisdreieck
  2. Klappstühle
  3. Schlaflos
Composed: 1974
Duration: 22:00
Publisher: E. C. Schirmer Music Company
Catalog Number(s): 0160, Study Score
Instrumental parts available for rental.


Reviews:

Ronald Perera’s “Three Poems of Günter Grass” used tape and imaginative ensemble writing to vividly conjure the melancholy anguish of life in postwar Germany.

The Boston Globe, Boston, MA, 2008

Ronald Perera’s setting of Günter Grass poems, commissioned in1974 and mixing electronic tape with voice (the estimable Pamela Dellal), spoken word and instruments, showed that trendy doesn’t have to go out of date if done well.

Boston Herald, Boston, MA, September, 2008

This time around I caught your Grass songs, and, to say something outrageously self-centered, it was one of the few times I regretted that I was not writing. They are a so compelling, sensitive, imaginative extension of the poetry, and one of the things I found especially exciting was your courage, as it were, in making them the point of departure for really big pieces of music.
Letter to the composer 12/15/75 from Michael Steinberg, former Boston Globe music critic, currently Artistic Advisor, San Francisco Symphony

Mr. Perera’s musical language is a blend of avant garde vocal and instrumental techniques (sprechstimme, aleatory passages, use of string and wind microtones, prepared piano, etc.) and the semi-popular sound worlds of Kurt Weill and Johann Strauss. The composer combines these elements in a very dramatic setting of three poems which, although symbolic rather than explicit, make powerful statements about the recent political history of Germany.

NATS Bulletin 5/78

The most interesting work on Stock’s concert was Perera’s song-cycle, a powerful setting of Grass’ disturbing poems in which the human voice is accompanied by six instruments and electronic tape.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 3/2/81

Shapely lines wound through a leisurely and well-integrated texture for tape and instruments, overlain by a collage of quotations and memories: Strauss waltzes, political songs, the sounds of the Berlin overhead railway.

The Independent (London) 10/20/88

Three Poems of Günter Grass is, quite simply, one of the most haunting works of the last 25 years. Scoring for soprano, chamber ensemble, and electronic tape, composer Ronald Perera sets three poems by the German author depicting different aspects of Germany after the Second World War. The tape is used to provide musique concrete derived from the sounds of Germany—a departing train, a military march, a Nazi rally (the unmistakable voice of Hitler is very evident in the third song)—in effect local color for the eloquent soprano line and imaginative instrumental writing. The first song, Gleisdreieck, was inspired by the train station of the same name on Berlin’s elevated railway. Prior to the Berlin Wall it was where one crossed the frontier from west to east. Grass uses it as a metaphor for the rootlessness of postwar German society, and Perera sets it to a variety of train sounds, real and musical. The second song, Folding Chairs (I give the titles in English; the cycle is sung in German), uses the chairs as a metaphor for the impermanence of home caused by the war. Perera sets it to ghostly, distorted reminiscences of Strauss’s Kunstlersleben (Artist’s Life). The vocal line is itself a ghost of the many arrangements of Strauss waltzes for soprano and orchestra, complete with climactic high note, a phantom of a culture devastated by the Nazis. The final song, Sleepless, is the nightmarish vision of a man with insomnia counting himself to sleep by recounting his life. Eventually he recounts the guilt of his actions during the war, a guilt for which there is no atonement. Words do not convey the power of this 20 minutes or so of music, as wrenching in its way as Schoenberg’s harrowing A Survivor from Warsaw. The fine soloist, Elsa Charlston, is beyond praise.

John Story, Fanfare Magazine, January/February 1999

Three Poems of Günter Grass for Viola and Piano



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Three Poems of Günter Grass 2017-10-03T00:10:55+00:00

Children of the Sun


Children of the Sun

Soprano, Horn, and Piano

Written for soprano Gretchen d’Armand. Text by Robert Louis Stevenson.
Movements:

  1. The Sun’s Travels
  2. Rain
  3. The Swing
  4. At the Sea-Side
  5. Auntie’s Skirts
  6. Happy Thought
  7. Summer Sun
Composed: 1978
Duration: 15:00
Publisher: E. C. Schirmer Music Company
Catalog Number(s): 0167


Reviews:

Children of the Sun is a cycle of seven songs set to poetry by Robert Louis Stevenson. The pieces are light-hearted and fun, imaginatively set in atonal musical language. Each piece depicts a tiny scene or mood, with titles like Rain, At the Sea Side, and Summer Sun. For example, in The Swing, Perera employs Sprechstimme to express the excitement of a child going up and down on a swing. Tremolos and sweeping glissandos depict the swing’s movements. One particularly playful piece is Auntie’s Skirts, written in a comic blues style.

Music Library Association, NOTES 3/84

Here are seven poems from that favorite collection for children, A Child’s Garden of Verse by Robert Louis Stevenson. Included are The Sun’s Travels, Rain, The Swing, At the Sea Side, Auntie’s Skirts, Happy Thought, and Summer Sun. The words create a world of serenity and happiness. The music reflects this: some of the words suggesting the mood at the beginning of each song are “exuberantly,” “vividly,” “impetuously,” “very marked,” “with serenity.” The music is very dissonant, with little sense of tonality, but the melody line carries the text expressively, and all the parts dance along most attractively. The horn some times reinforces the voice or piano, but more often adds a new melody. This is delightful music, about sixteen minutes in length, with a pitch range for the soprano C4 – A5.

NATS Bulletin 3/14/87, currently Artistic Advisor, San Francisco Symphony

Children of the Sun



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The White Whale


The White Whale

Baritone, Flute (doubling piccolo), oboe, 2 clarinets (2nd doubling bass clarinet), bassoon, contrabassoon, horn, trumpet, trombone, harp, piano (doubling celesta), percussion (two players), strings

The White Whale is a musical projection of Ahab’s madness as revealed in fragments of soliloquy and dialogue from nine different chapters of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. The four movements do not attempt to mirror Melville’s continous narrative. Instead, they reflect some of the novel’s greatest discontinuities by juxtaposing paradoxical aspects of Ahab’s character—aspects which are revealed one by one in non-successive chapters strung out like beads on a chain throughout the book—in a radically compressed time frame. The compression heightens awareness of the depth and complexity of Ahab’s personality and of his relationship to the whale while creating a particular dramatic tension of its own. The text was adapted from the book by the composer.

Movements:

  1. The Prisoner
  2. In Nomine Diaboli
  3. The Symphony
  4. A Hump Like a Snow-Hill
Composed: 1981
Duration: 30:00
Publisher: E. C. Schirmer Music Company
Catalog Number(s): Piano/Vocal Score, 4098
Full score and parts available for rental.
The White Whale



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Crossing the Meridian


Crossing the Meridian

Tenor, flute (doubling alto flute), clarinet (doubling bass clarinet), percussion (one player), violin, viola, cello, piano

Commissioned by Boston Musica Viva. Text by Ruth Whitman, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Hart Crane, William Carlos Williams, and James Dickey.

Crossing the Meridian CD cover Crossing the Meridian is the title work on the CD Crossing the Meridian, which offers a collection of Ronald Perera’s works for chamber music with voice. It includes Crossing the Meridian, Three Poems of Günter Grass, Visions and Alternate Routes. Performed by the Boston Musica Viva. Soloists include Elsa Charlston, John Aler, Jane Bryden, and Karen Smith Emerson. On CRI.

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Movements:

  1. I. July 18, 1846, Crossing the Great Divide
  2. II. That Sensual Phosphorescence
  3. III. Meticulous, Past Midnight
  4. IV. Danse Russe
  5. V. Math
Composed: 1982
Duration: 20:00
Publisher: E. C. Schirmer Music Company
Catalog Number(s): Piano/Vocal Score, 4097
Full score and parts available for rental.

Reviews:

Perera’s texts come from Ruth Whitman, Hart Crane, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, William Carlos Williams and James Dickey. They differ widely in tone and in method, but all concern themselves with in-between moments in which time is momentarily suspended, and the self is alone. The music, as the composer said in some prefatory remarks, is tonal, triadic, and transparent; like the poems, it concerns itself with limits, and transcending them. There is something cold about it, in an attractive sense — there is no self-indulgent swooning here.

Boston Globe

The first of a sequence of four concerts in St. John’s Smith Square contained no less than three British premieres, of which the most striking was Ronald Perera’s song-cycle Crossing the Meridian. Its debt to Britten is clear enough, but Perera’s music is sensitive to atmosphere and technically most expert and economical.

The Sunday Telegraph (London) 11/9/86

Crossing the Meridian



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Crossing the Meridian 2017-10-03T00:37:33+00:00

Visions


Visions

Two Sopranos, Flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, 2 violins, viola, cello, contrabass, piano

Written in memory of Phillips Perera, the composer’s brother, a talented amateur painter. The work celebrates the creative artist in painting, poetry, and sculpture. Texts are by Susan Snively, Richard Wilbur, and Carol Edelstein.

Crossing the Meridian CD cover Crossing the Meridian is the title work on the CD Crossing the Meridian, which offers a collection of Ronald Perera’s works for chamber music with voice. It includes Crossing the Meridian, Three Poems of Günter Grass, Visions and Alternate Routes. Performed by the Boston Musica Viva. Soloists include Elsa Charlston, John Aler, Jane Bryden, and Karen Smith Emerson. On CRI.

Available on:
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Movements:

  1. Sky Above Clouds
  2. The Writer
  3. After Brancusi
Composed: 1993
Duration: 14:00
Publisher: Pear Tree Press Music Publishing distributed by Subito Music
Catalog Number(s): Full Score, PTM 501


Reviews:

Visions, . . . scored for soprano duet and large chamber ensemble, shows the lyrical tendencies in the first song of Crossing the Meridian fully in flower. Perera’s idiom by 1992 had blossomed fully into tonality, and the music fairly glows with warmth. The three songs all deal with artistic creation, normally a big yawn as a subject for artistic exploration so far as I am concerned, in interestingly oblique ways. The first and last songs, dealing with painting and sculpture respectively, have the voices more or less moving in parallel textures. The second song, The Writer, concerns the poet and her daughter, who is writing her first story. The mother is portrayed by the singers alternating lines, the daughter by the voices together. Interestingly enough, although neither singer has the vocal endowments of Elsa Charlston, the effect when they sing together is to cancel out the flaws in each voice to utterly ravishing effect.

John Story, Fanfare Magazine, January/February 1999





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Visions 2017-10-03T00:10:55+00:00

The Writer (from Visions)


The Writer

Soprano, flute, clarinet, violin, viola, and piano

The Writer is the second movement of the larger work, Visions. It is based on Richard Wilbur’s narrative poem and concerns a young writer—the poet’s daughter—who is writing her first story. The setting and the poem capture the writing process, from the tapping of fitful typing to the frenzied attempts to express a thought to the lyrical soaring of clear expression.

Crossing the Meridian CD cover Crossing the Meridian is the title work on the CD Crossing the Meridian, which offers a collection of Ronald Perera’s works for chamber music with voice. It includes Crossing the Meridian, Three Poems of Günter Grass, Visions and Alternate Routes. Performed by the Boston Musica Viva. Soloists include Elsa Charlston, John Aler, Jane Bryden, and Karen Smith Emerson. On CRI.

Available on:
Amazon
iTunes

Composed: 1993
Duration: 6:00
Publisher: Pear Tree Press Music Publishing distributed by Subito Music
Catalog Number(s): Full Score, PTM 502


Reviews:

The Writer, . . . scored for soprano duet and large chamber ensemble, shows the lyrical tendencies in the first song of Crossing the Meridian fully in flower. Perera’s idiom by 1992 had blossomed fully into tonality, and the music fairly glows with warmth. The three songs all deal with artistic creation, normally a big yawn as a subject for artistic exploration so far as I am concerned, in interestingly oblique ways. The first and last songs, dealing with painting and sculpture respectively, have the voices more or less moving in parallel textures. The second song, The Writer, concerns the poet and her daughter, who is writing her first story. The mother is portrayed by the singers alternating lines, the daughter by the voices together. Interestingly enough, although neither singer has the vocal endowments of Elsa Charlston, the effect when they sing together is to cancel out the flaws in each voice to utterly ravishing effect.

John Story, Fanfare Magazine, January/February 1999





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The Writer (from Visions) 2017-10-03T00:10:55+00:00

Five Summer Songs


Five Summer Songs

Mezzo-soprano and Chamber Ensemble
Harp, piano (doubling celesta), percussion (one player), and strings

Five songs on poems of Emily Dickinson. Arrangement of the 1972 songs for medium voice and piano (ECS Publishing #161). The poems included are New Feet Within My Garden Go, South Winds Jostle Them, I Know a Place, To Make a Prairie, and The One That Could Repeat the Summer Day.

This arrangement was commissioned by the Cleveland Chamber Symphony.

Also available for Mezzo-soprano with piano accompaniment (E. C. Schirmer Music Company, Catalog No. 0161).

American Music CD cover Five Summer Songs is available on American Music for Flute, Voice, and Strings, a CD collection of American music by various composers. Performed by soprano Carole Wilson. On Albany Records, Troy 519.

Available on iTunes

Songs:

  1. New Feet Within My Garden Go
  2. South Winds Jostle Them
  3. I Know a Place Where Summer Strives
  4. To Make a Prairie
  5. The One That Could Repeat the Summer Day
Composed: 1993
Duration: 6:00
Publisher: E. C. Schirmer Music Company
Catalog Number(s): Piano/Vocal Score, 4836
Full score and parts on rental.



Reviews:

Rec. lyric medium voice (b-f#2); 12:00; titles are: New Feet Within My Garden Go; South Winds Jostle Them; I Know a Place; To Make a Prairie; The One That Could Repeat the Summer Day; best kept as a set; excellent variety of mood and color; atonal, but with a strong feeling of tonality throughout; gentle dissonances; not difficult for the voice, but the colorful piano writing is intricate and requires dexterity; elegant, lyrical, compelling songs.

A Singer’s Guide to the American Art Song 1870-1980
by Victoria Etnier Villamil (The Scarecrow Press, Inc., Metuchen, NJ & London, 1993)

]Perera’s thoroughly pleasing and admirably written set of songs would grace any singer’s repertory. The unadorned style and clarity of the musical language make the set an attractive proposition for a beginner to the field. The “Five Summer Songs” could be put with other Emily Dickinson settings. They would not seem out of place in a traditional recital programme because of their unpretentious and direct appeal. The set would form a good foil for late Romantic lieder with more exotic textures.

New Vocal Repertory
by Jane Manning (Taplinger, 1987)

With detailed instructions for both the singer and accompanist these songs are wonderful for an accomplished, artistic, sensitive singer.

NATS Bulletin 5/78

Five Summer Songs



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Five Summer Songs 2017-10-03T00:47:45+00:00

North Country


North Country

SATB Chorus with Piano Accompaniment

Commisssioned by the Da Camera Singers of Amherst, MA for their 2011 season. A setting of five early poems by Robert Frost.

Contents:

  • To the Thawing Wind
  • Stars
  • Revelation
  • Fire and Ice
  • Going for Water
Composed: 2010
Text: Robert Frost
Duration: 12:00
Publisher: Pear Tree Press Music Publishing distributed by Subito Music
Catalog Number(s): PTM 4001


Reviews:

“Ronald Perera set “North Country,” five poems by Robert Frost. Their theme was self-concealment and, in the central poem, revelation. The music was perfectly fitted to the poetry, occasionally dissonant and more often delicate and clear, in keeping with the beautiful conclusion of “Going for Water” (the last poem), “We heard, we knew we heard the brook.” The chorus was the Northfield Mount Hermon Singers, whose young voices and disciplined performance were the musical and emotional highlight of the concert.”

Daily Hampshire Gazette 1/23/2014





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2. Stars

5. Going for Water

North Country 2017-10-03T00:10:55+00:00

Hildegard Magnificat


Hildegard Magnificat

Available for SSA or SATB choir with Organ Accompaniment

Composed for the 2009 Christmas Vespers concert at Smith College, which featured new music commissioned for the occasion based on chants composed by the 12th-century composer, artist and mystic Hildegard von Bingen. This Magnificat setting is inspired by Hildegard’s Marian antiphon Quia ergo femina. The original SSA version is dedicated to the Smith College Glee Club, Jonathan Hirsh, director.

Composed: 2009
Text inspired by: Hildegard von Bingen’s Marian antiphon Quia ergo femina.
Duration: 4:30
Publisher: E. C. Schirmer Music Company
Catalog Number(s): SSA Version, 7624
SATB Version, 7625


Reviews:

“The Hildegard Magnificat takes its name from the source of the main musical motif, namely an antiphon by Hildegard von Bingen. This work is probably more at home in a concert setting than at an Evensong, and while it uses the Rite I text, it does not include a Gloria Patri. The Smith College Glee Club commissioned the work, thus the treble version is the original. The mixed choir arrangement simply redistributes the parts without changing a note of the organ. Perera approaches the text atmospherically, creating a sense of exalted mystery. The closing moments resolve the loose E minor tonality with a surprise Picardy third and minor seventh, and this nebulous harmony typifies the evocative effect of the entire setting. The treble version relies on part divisions to fill our harmonies, requiring an ensemble large enough to cover six parts. The mixed choir voicing would be accessible to most volunteer groups.”

The Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians November, 2013

Hildegard Magnificat



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Audio excerpt performed by the Smith College Glee Club, Jonathan Hirsh, director, Grant Moss, organ.

Hildegard Magnificat 2017-10-03T00:10:56+00:00

A Dickinson Set


A Dickinson Set

SATB Chorus A Cappella

A cappella settings of three Emily Dickinson poems including the well known “Wild Nights.” Dedicated to Harold Rosenbaum and the New York Virtuoso Singers.

Movements:

  1. Ample Make This Bed
  2. Wild Nights
  3. Bring Me the Sunset In a Cup
Composed: 2009
Text by: Emily Dickinson
Duration: ~5:45
Publisher: Pear Tree Press Music Publishing distributed by Subito Music
Catalog Number(s): 80500491
A Dickinson Set



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A Dickinson Set 2017-10-03T00:10:56+00:00

Why I Wake Early


Why I Wake Early

SATB Chorus with String Quartet & Piano Accompaniment

Settings of eight Poems of Mary Oliver that are highly contrasting in texture and mood, trace a cycle in the natural world from dawn of one day to dawn of the next. This piece was co-commissioned by the Chatham Chorale and the New Amsterdam Singers.

Composed: 2006
Text by: Mary Oliver
Duration: 23:005
Publisher: Pear Tree Press Music Publishing distributed by Subito Music
Catalog Number(s): Piano/Vocal Score, 80500482
Full Score, 80500481


Reviews:

Poems by Mary Oliver are the basis of Ronald Perera’s colourful and poignant Why I Wake Early, named for the last of eight sections that move from one morning to the next. Both composers season their essentially tonal language with harmonic spices but what stands out in each score is expressive vocal and instrumental writing that flows from the texts with idiomatic grace and intensity. These are deeply affecting pieces and meaningful additions to the choral repertoire…. In his settings of the Oliver poems, Perera places the chorus in a series of glistening soundscapes in collaboration with string quartet and piano. The final titular poem basks in reflective beauty before taking euphoric wing on the words “I start the day in happiness, in kindness.”

Gramaphone (UK) December 2012

Nature demanded its due on Sunday afternoon, as clocks pushed forward for daylight savings time provided an extra hour of sunlight to observe debris strew by the ferocious windstorm on Saturday night. The New Amsterdam Singers seemed to have planned in advance with “As Nature Wakes,” an enjoyable mix of American and Czech works featuring nature as subject or metaphor, presented that afternoon at the Church of the Holy Trinity.

This adventurous amateur chorus, founded by the conductor, Clara Longstreth in 1968, celebrated its 40th anniversary with the New York premiere of Ronald Perera’s “Why I Wake Early,” jointly commissioned by it and the Chatham Chorale of Cape Cod, Mass. Mr. Perera set eight poems by Mary Oliver, a Cape Cod poet, for mixed chorus, string quartet, and piano.

Ms. Oliver’s poetry, which has drawn comparisons to the work of Emerson and Thoreau, reveals an awestruck regard of nature that verges on the religious: “What wretchedness, to believe only in what can be proven,” she writes in “I Looked Up,” the fifth poem in Mr. Perera’s cycle. Her work also demonstrates a discerning eye and an ability to render vivid images with a few deft strokes.

Mr. Perera sensitively underscores both attributes in a cycle spanning a day from one dawn to the next, linked by a subtle, recurring four-note motif. His music neatly conjures Ms. Oliver’s rippling pond, wary crows, flitting bats and lazily unspooling snake. At the same time, the work’s dramatic progression, from the shivering anticipation of “Morning at Great Pond” to the radiant affirmation of the concluding title poem, “Why I Wake Early,” does justice to the poet’s more transcendental intents. Enhanced by Mr. Perera’s estimable knack for setting English, this is a substantial addition to the choral canon.

The New York Times, 3/11/2008

Saturday’s Chatham Chorale concert at the Yarmouth Congregational Church gave listeners much to celebrate.


It marked the 20th year of Margaret Bossi’s tenure as director, and the concert became a special evening of Americana through works by composers with Massachusetts origins or connections — Leonard Bernstein, Irving Fine, Aaron Copland and the composer Ronald Perera. Perera’s composition Why I Wake Early, based on eight poems by Cape poet Mary Oliver, was given its world premiere and formed the centerpiece of the program.


In the tradition of the New England Transcendentalists like Emerson and Thoreau, Oliver’s poems are inspired by nature and our relationship to it. Her vision is essentially upbeat without denying the harsh realities of the natural world. She has written: “Every poem is music — a determined, persuasive, reliable, enthusiastic and crafted music.”


Perera, a Northampton resident who taught at Smith College for 30 years, has remarkably and faithfully caught and enunciated the spirit of that statement.


His music is eminently approachable (no hard lessons here in “self-improvement”) and wraps around the music of the poems comfortably and with telling effect.


In “Entering the Kingdom,” a piece about the poet tentatively entering the alien realm inhabited by crows, the composer used the time-tested techniques of a repeated passage in the bass, extended chords and skipping upward scales aided by dialogue from a skilled string quartet. In “Bats,” with its swooping choral and instrumental word painting and string and piano tremolos, the chorale sang well within itself presenting some of the best ensemble work of the evening.


The eighth and final setting of the work Why I Wake Early concludes the work on an unapologetically optimistic note. This is Perera’s second commission for the chorale, having written in 1991, The Outermost House, based on Henry Beston’s book about his solitary winter on the Cape in the mid-1920s.


Perera writes exceedingly well for the chorale and this work should find a permanent place in the American choral canon.

Cape Cod Times, 11/12/2007

Why I Wake Early



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Audio Excerpt:
Audio excerpt is movement eight of Why I Wake Early. Performed by Con Allegro, David Hodgkins, conductor.

12. Why I Wake Early

Why I Wake Early 2017-10-03T00:10:56+00:00