Peaceful, vibrant images enter your mind as you listen to Donna Weng Friedman’s recorded performance of Quiet Poems, three piano works by the composer Kim Sherman.
How did these two highly creative women find each other and cooperate to produce this very moving recording of new works?
Barry Lenson of Classical Archives sat down to video a conversation with the composer and the pianist. The result, we hope you will agree, is a unique exploration of the creative process that led to the birth of these remarkable works.
Watch and listen here . . .
About Quiet Poems
Please note that the information below is adapted from an article on I Care If You Listen, an editorially-independent program of the American Composers Forum. We invite you to read the entire article HERE.
In 2018, the pianist Donna Weng Friedman approached composer Kim D. Sherman and asked her to compose a series of short piano pieces for two of Ms. Weng Friedman’s piano students to study and play.
Ms. Sherman reports that she “jumped at the opportunity.” The result was Unfathomable Things, a collection of 15 “stories” for solo piano about nature, time and space, walking, human connection, and other unfathomable things.
During the pandemic, Sherman and Weng Friedman felt the need to share the feelings of these pieces and find connection, so they recorded “Quiet Poems,” a set of three nature-inspired songs from the collection. They are “Water Circles” (the ripple effect when you throw a rock into a still body of water), “A Gesture” (the lonely call to a person who is not there), and “Night Sounds” (those strange sounds we hear when everything is quiet, but not really).
Here’s how Ms. Weng Friedman described the project:
She explains, “Unfathomable Things offers an array of short pieces that introduce original contemporary music in an imaginative and thoughtful way. With sumptuous harmonies and melodies that can make your heart soar, sing, or melt, this music is accessible to listening audiences of all ages. The first set of three pieces, Quiet Poems, is an exploration of sound and color, and the silences in between.
Sherman and Weng Friedman’s Quiet Poems EP will be available on SoundCloud beginning Tuesday, March 21, 2022, in conjunction with World Poetry Day.
Hear a Live Performance of Quiet Poems on May 15th
We are delighted to let you know that Ms. Weng Friedman will perform these works at the Tenri Cultural Institute of New York on May 15. Information about the concert will be released soon. If you would like to stay informed, please email Barry Lenson at barrylenson@aya,yale.edu who will forward you information about the concert when available.
About Donna Weng Friedman
Award-winning pianist Donna Weng Friedman enjoys a varied career as soloist, chamber musician, producer, app developer, and educator. The creator of Heritage and Harmony programs – including the video series on WQXR and the education program Heritage and Harmony: Her Art, Her Voice at the National Women’s History Museum – Weng Friedman was recently honored with two silver medals for her pandemic album Heritage and Harmony: Silver Linings at the 2022 Global Music Awards. She has performed in concert halls and appeared as soloist with major symphony orchestras worldwide. An avid chamber musician, she has collaborated with world-renowned musicians, including Carter Brey, Anthony McGill, Ani Kavafian, David Shifrin, and St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble. She has conducted masterclasses at the Shanghai and Beijing conservatories and is on the faculty of the Mannes School of Music.
A graduate of Princeton University, she received her Master’s degree from the Juilliard School under the tutelage of Adele Marcus and has the privilege of studying with the famed composer/educator Nadia Boulanger and the incomparable pianist Radu Lupu. She is the creator/developer of “The Music Bee Club,” interactive classical music apps for children, produced by 19-time Grammy Award winner David Frost.
About Kim D. Sherman
Kim D. Sherman composes for the theater, opera, concert, and film. Her music has been described as “rhapsodic and lush” as well as “craggy and leap-about.” She embraces lyricism and dissonance as equal partners in conveying dramatic musical landscapes.
Ms. Sherman studied piano and composition at Lawrence University. After earning her degree, she continued her studies in composition and orchestration with Thea Musgrave. Her career started in Minneapolis, where she was awarded two Kudos Awards for her work in the theatre. That led her to New York, where her music has been heard in venues from tiny lofts in lower Manhattan to the great stages of Broadway. She has enjoyed residencies at The MacDowell Colony and The Banff Centre. Sherman is currently composer-in-residence with Still Waters In a Storm.
Corrections: In the video, Donna Weng Friedman states that we recently celebrated the centennial of Clara Schumann’s birth. She regrets that she should have said “the 200th anniversary. Clara Schumann was born in 1819.
Also in the video, Barry Lenson mistakenly refers to Susanne Langer as an “aesthetician,” which refers to someone who performs skin treatments! (This is one of the biggest howlers I have ever made,” Barry says.) He should have referred to Ms. Langer as a philosopher who wrote about art and aesthetics.