James D'Angelo

James D’Angelo (1939- ) has had a very varied musical career as a composer, pianist (both classical and jazz), sound therapist, lecturer and writer. American born, he began his academic life at Columbia University studying chemistry. This was followed by a year at New York University to follow music education. Finding this dissatisfactory, he transferred to the Manhattan School of Music, the New York conservatory, where he received BMus and MMus degrees in composition. These degrees produced two large works, a three movement concerto for saxophone quartet and orchestra and a symphonic poem in six movements entitled The Festival of Cybele and Attis. During this period, he studied with the well-known jazz and third stream* composers William Russo and Gunther Schuller, also receiving a scholarship to study at the Lenox (MA) School of Jazz. founded by the Modern Jazz Quartet.

*Third stream music, a term coined by Gunther Schuller, is the interweaving of classical and jazz elements into the structure of the music to create a “third stream”

Between these two degrees, he served three years in military service at the US Military Academy (West Point) where he played not only his principal instrument, the piano but also clarinet, saxophone and piccolo. Here he composed for the resident string quartet and brass quintet and presented his first ever piano improvisation concert using jazz tunes and popular standards as the raw material.

In 1966 he made his New York debut at Carnegie Recital Hall as an improvising third stream pianist (reviewed by the New York Times). At this time he was introduced to the jazz singer Jay Clayton with whom he then collaborated. Together they produced an album for Savoy Records which included several of his third stream songs using poets such as ee cummings, William Blake, Vachel Lindsay, Edgar Allan Poe and Robert Frost.

By 1967, after just free-lancing, he began his long teaching career in higher education. First he was a tutor at the New York College of Music and this was followed by a stint as a lecturer in music education at New York University. 1970 was a momentous year for D’Angelo. He became a full-time music lecturer within the City University of New York, embarked on a PhD programme at NYU and married.

During the next fourteen years much of his energy was taken up with teaching, doing the work towards the PhD and raising two daughters. He continued to perform at the piano, working with the superb Polish virtuoso Jan Gorbaty (1970-75) but composition was laid to rest, partly because of his work and family obligations and partly because he was soul-searching about his musical style.

His PhD work was quite significant because it revolved around the music theory and philosophy of the composer Paul Hindemith who became a great influence on D’Angelo once he resumed composing. He produced a monumental piece of work on Hindemith’s opera Die Harmonie der Welt which is cited by Jamie James, NY Times music critic, in his book The Music of the Spheres and by David Neumeyer, a major Hindemith scholar. The dissertation included a translation of the opera’s German libretto into English which had never been done.

In 1984 D’Angelo’s professional direction shifted to England, his wife’s home country. It began as a sabbatical leave during which he studied Indian music as a way as clearing out his musical conscience, so to speak. This produced a series of pieces with a distinct East/West flavour in the manner of Alan Hovhaness. One of these works, The Three Portraits of Krishna for flute and piano strings drone, was eventually commercially recorded on Virgin Classics (1999), which included music by Copland, Bernstein, Rorem and others.

D’Angelo decided to remain in England, resigning his then associate professor’s position at CUNY. After a few lean years to find his way in London, he was taken on as a music tutor by Goldsmiths College, London .(1989) and remained there until 2003.

The study of Indian music did cleanse his musical style and, from 1985, he began to compose in earnest in different genres. Most prominent in his output are the over 50 songs (about 15 of which are third stream sings), mostly with piano but a few with clarinet alone and, in recent times, for soprano, clarinet and piano because in 2010 D’Angelo formed a trio of this combination. Trio D’Angelo has performed at Gloucester Cathedral and Cheltenham Town Hall, a major British venue, among other concert halls. His extended song Elegy on part of the Whitman poem When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d was the first prize winner at the 2001 Arklow (Ireland) Music Festival.

In the 1990s D’Angelo was taken on by the concert promoter Lawrence Ball and his unique London Planetree Music Festivals in which such pieces as his Toccata for Solo Percussionist, Fools for Flute and Percussion, Fool and Angel Entering a City for solo double bass, Variations for Viola and many songs (including a set of third stream songs) were premiered.

Semi-improvised keyboard works were also a feature running through D’Angelo’s music from 1985.He premiered at different London venues his suites The Spiritual Warrior, The Elements, The Celestial Hierarchy, The Four Temperaments, The Three Gunas and The Great Happiness. Three of these were recorded on his own label Neptune.

Yet another facet of his work was as a church musician. He began as a self-taught organist at an Episcopal church in New Jersey in 1977. Then, from 1992 to 2002 , he held the position of organist in London at St. Thomas the Apostle (COE). His connection to Christianity has produced many of his choral and organ works.

The following is a partial list:

Tenebrae Factae Sunt (for Coesfeld, Germany Catholic choir), Amen (for the Brighton Festival Chorus), The Song of Solomon (for the Ealing Abbey Choir), The Holy City (for the American Boychoir) The Hymn of St. Patrick (for St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dunlin), Evensong Responses, Introit on Psalm 31 and Missa Brevis (for Gloucester Cathedral) and a Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis (for the Norwich Festival of Contemporary Church Music). Also for organ, the Fanfare Fantasia premiered by Adrian Partington at Gloucester Cathedral and Bath Abbey and Fantasia on a Theme of Hindemith premiered by Scott Dettra on the recording mentioned below. All of these works were revised in 2010 -2011. With the exception of the Amen, The Song of Solomon and the Fanfare Fantasia, all of these have been recorded by the Washington National Cathedral Choir for commercial release. This cathedral choir gave the first performance of his Blow Out, Ye Bugles (published by Recital Music) on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 disaster.

Another specialized area of composition for D’Angelo has been the double bass. He has had five pieces for the instrument published by Recital Music including Ode to St Kilda for double bass quartet, the first prize winner in a Recital Music competition for pieces depicting this Scottish island.

A great departure for D’Angelo since 1994 to the present has been the development of courses to empower people to use their voices therapeutically. This began with his study of overtoning, producing audible harmonics with the voice, first with David Hykes and Jill Purce and then with the master teacher Rollin Rachele. He has become very well-known in the field of sound therapy not only conducting workshops throughout the UK and parts of Europe but presenting lectures at four major sound therapy conferences in the USA. This has resulted in the publication of two books The Healing Power of the Human Voice and Seed Sounds for Tuning the Chakras: Vowels, Consonants and Seed Syllables for Spiritual Transformation.

Since 2003 he has returned to his jazz roots as a pianist and formed a partnership with the singer Jenna Monroe. They haves performed in many concerts together over the years presenting a variety of cabaret, jazz and original material.

2013 will be a significant year for D’Angelo. His sacred choral and organ music 75’ CD is expected to be commercially released, His Festival Fanfare for 12 brass, organ and percussion will be premiered at the Three Choirs Festival, the oldest and very prestigious festival in England. Recital Music will be publishing the piece. In the same festival he is also performing with the soprano Der-Shin Hwang the Hindemith song cycle Das Marienleben (The Life of the Virgin Mary) in his own English translation. There will undoubtedly be more performances of this monumental work of 15 songs. He has also been arranging his third stream songs for string quartet, piano, bass and percussion to be sung by Jay Clayton in a future collaborative CD. D’Angelo also has long range plans to record many of his art songs.

The SCA online database currently lists 46 scores by James D'Angelo.
Title Year Instrumentation Mins      Other Information                                         Audio View score Publ.
Amen 2007 SATB Choir, tubular bells & tam-tam 4 I was to be included in the Gothic Records 2014 release but there was not sufficient time on the disc.  N/A N/A  
Awake, Awake 2013 SATB Choir 4 The poem is by Caroline Hope. No current performances. Perhaps in 2014  N/A N/A  
Blow Out, Ye Bugles 2011 SATB Choir, trumpet and organ 7-8 The poem is by Rupert Brooke and was premiered by the Washington National Cathedral Choir (USA)on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 disaster in New York.  N/A N/A Recital Music (Somerset, UK) 
Elegy 2002 Baritone or mezzo soprano and piano 11-15 Extract from the poem When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloomed by Walt Whitman. First prize winning composition at the Arklow Muisc Festival (Ireland), 2005.  N/A N/A  
Eyeing Death 1995 SSAA Choir 7-8 Poem by Irina Kuzminskaya and first performed in 1996 by Rosy Voices at the Steiner Theatre, London  N/A N/A  
Fanfare 2007 5 double basses 2 It was premiered at the 2008 BassFest organized by the publisher  N/A N/A Recital Music (Somerset, UK) 
Fanfare Fantasia 2008 Organ 9-10 Commissioned and premiered by the director of music at Gloucester Cathedral Adrian Partington  N/A N/A  
Fantasia on a Theme of Hindemith 2009 Organ 11-15 Dedicated to the German organist Ralf Blasi. Theme taken from the final movement of Hindemith's symphony The Harmony of the Universe.  N/A N/A  
Fantasia on a Theme of Monk 2014 Harp 11-15 The theme in question is Thelonius Monk's famous theme Round Midnight.  N/A N/A  
Festival Fanfare 2012 Brass ensemble, organ and percussionb 4 Commissioned by the Three Choirs Festival to open the 2013 festival at Gloucester Cathedral  N/A N/A Recital Music (Somerset, UK) 
Fool and Angel Entering a City 1993 Solo double bass 11-15 Based on the painting of the same name by Cecil Collins. First performed by David Heyes in London in 1996.  N/A N/A Recital Music (Somerset, UK) 
Fools 1997 Flute and Percussion including vibes and marimba 11-15 3 Movements based on paintings by Cecil Collins. 1. The Shepherd Fool 2. The Sleeping fool 3. Two Fools Dancing Premiered at the Planetree Music Festival, London, 1997.  N/A N/A Colla Voce Music, Indianapolis. IN (USA) 
Introit on Psalm 31 2009 Choir + organ 5-6 Commissioned by the Gloucester Cathedral Choir  N/A N/A  
Lord, It Could Be Paradise 1974 SATB Choir 4 Poem by Honore Stern. First performed by the Bronx community College Choir, New York. Revised in 2004.  N/A N/A  
Magnificat 2010 Choir + organ 5-6 Scheduled for release by Gothic Records in 2014  N/A N/A  
Missa Brevis (Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, Agnus Dei 2005 Choir 21-30 Recording to be released on Gothic Records (USA) in 2014  N/A N/A  
Nirvana 1974 SSA Choir 3 Poem by the Russian Lermontov. First performed by the Bronx Community College Choir. Revised 2004 and sung by the LaNova singers, England in 2010  N/A N/A  
Nunc Dimittis 2010 Choir + organ 3 Scheduled for release by Gothic Records in 2014  N/A N/A  
O Magnum Mysterium 2012 SSA Choir and piano 3 This piece was commended in the Recital Music Carol Competition. It was given its first performance by the LaNova Singers in 2012  N/A N/A  
Ode to St. Kilda 2008 Double bass quartet 5-6 First-prize winner on the theme of the Scottish Island St. Kilda within the Recital Music competition Performed at the 2009 Bass Fest   N/A N/A Recital Music (Somerset, UK) 
On the Beach at Night 2012 Soprano, clarinet and piano 7-8 The poem is by Walt Whitman and the song is unperformed  N/A N/A  
Pater Noster 2003 Baritone voice and string quartet 9-10 Text is the Roman Catholic version of the Lord's Prayer. Written for the Rome Foundation sacred musix prize.  N/A N/A  
Prayer for Peace 2002 SATB Choir 4 Text from The Seekers Trust and written for Waging Peace (Oregon University) Unperformed  N/A N/A  
Raga Mala Suites 1987 Piano unknown These pieces were the result of studying Hindustani music theory primarily from the book The Ragas of North Indian Music by Alain Danielou, as part of a sabbatical year project in Londo 1984-85. These improvisations were recorded in concert at a London venue called Colet House in March 1985. It was the first ever time of attempting to improvise in a so-called "raga style". I was not following any rules of raga playing. Rather it was using the combination of basic raga scales with the application of drones. Later on I played this recording to an Indian musician teaching at the Bhavan centre in London. Naturally he dismissed this as improper raga playing. Subsequently I took up study with him for about 6 months during which he taught me procedures for raga playing at the piano. Working with Indian music was a way of purifying myself musically and by 1988 I put it to one side and could now finally find my own voice.

Suite no.1
1. Melancholy - Gunakali
2. Vigour - Dipaka
3. Supplication - Chhayanata
4. Revelry - Durga

Suite no.2
1. Anxiety - Marava
2. Gentleness - Kafi
3. Joy - Yaman-Kalyan
4. Prayer - Gopi Kambhoji
N/A N/A  
Ring Out, Wild Bells 2008 Choir 5-6 Text by Lord Alfred Tennyson and written for the Waldbrook Singers competition. Unperformed  N/A N/A  
Scherzo of Fools No. 2 2010 Solo Violone 5-6 Composed for and dedicated to Barbara Post who gave its first performance in 2012.  N/A N/A Recital Music (Somerset, UK) 
Six Modal Songs on Chinese Verse 1971 Mezzo soprano and piano 7-8 Revised in 2010. Several performances, the latest being in 2011 by DerShin Hwang. The poems are in English translation  N/A N/A  
Smile, Death 2003 Soprano and piano 5-6 Poem by Charlotte Mayhew. Unperformed. Dedicated to the mezzo soprano Catherine King  N/A N/A  
Tears, Tears, Tears 2010 Soprano, clarinet and piano 7-8 The poem is by Walt Whitman. It was premiered by Trio D'Angelo in London in 2011  N/A N/A  
Tenebrae Factae Sunt 2011 Choir + organ 7-8 Recording to be released on Gothic Records in 2014  N/A N/A  
The Angel Of The Flowing Light 2014 Orchestra 11-15 This is a re-working of a synthesizer piece from the 1990s. It is inspired by a painting by the British artist Cecil Collins.  N/A N/A  
The Holy City (Book of Revelation) 1999 Choir 7-8 Originally for boys choir, revised in 2011  N/A N/A  
The Hymn of St. Patrick 1995 Choir + organ 5-6 Rev. 2010. Scheduled for release by Gothic Records in 2014  N/A N/A  
The Lamb 2010 Choir of SSA and piano 4 The poem is by William Blake. It was originally a solo song for mezzo soprano & piano and was adapted by the composer. Written for the LaNova Singers who premiered it in 2010  N/A N/A  
The March of the Jesters 2000 String Orchestra 9-10 Commissioned by the Malden Young Strings and premiered in London and Glasgow in 2005  N/A N/A  
The Scherzo of Fools 2008 Clarinet and Piano 7-8 Dedicated to Stephen Bennett, clarinettist. It remains unperformed in public.  N/A N/A  
The Song of Solomon 1999 SATB Choir 11-15 Traditional Biblical text. Commissioned by the then director of music at Ealing Abbey, London. Due to his departure, the work was not performed and remains unperformed. It is intended for a men's and boy's choir  N/A N/A  
The Whirling Butterfly 2011 Soprano and clarinet 5-6 The poem is by Karin Karbanova and the song was premiered at the Planetree Music Festival, London of 2011  N/A N/A  
The Wounded Angel 2011 Solo Guitar 9-10 Written for and dedicated to Gilbert Biberian who gave its first performance in Cheltenham in 2013  N/A N/A  
The Wounded Angel 2013 Piccolo, 2 flutes, alto flute & bass flute 9-10 This is a radical re-working of the solo guitar piece and will be performed in France in 2014.  N/A N/A  
Three Pieces for Solo Clarinet 2009 Clarinet 9-10 Written for a competition sponsored by the KALV Fesitval in Sweden. Premiered by Stephen Bennett in Sweden. Each movement approx. 3 minutes  N/A N/A  
Toccata for Solo Percussionist 1961 Snare drum, two tom-toms, 2 suspended cymbals and triangle 9-10 Performed by Matthew Perry as part of his recital for the BBC Musician of the year competition (1993) and again at a Planetree Music Festival 1996.  N/A N/A Colla Voce Music, Indianapolis. IN (USA) 
Towards the Unknown Region 2010 Soprano + Piano 5-6 The poem is by Walt Whitman and the song was first performed at St. Thomas's Church, London in 2011  N/A N/A  
Variations on Alleluia 2010 Choir of SSA 5-6 Written for the LaNova singers who premiered it in 2011. It consists of the single word Alleluia in different guises.  N/A N/A  
Whispers of Heavenly Death 2010 Soprano + Piano 7-8 The poem is by Walt Whitman and the song was first performed at the Planetree Music Festival, London in 2011  N/A N/A  
You Are There 2013 SATB Choir 5-6 The poem is by Caroline Hope. No current performances. Possibly in 2014  N/A N/A  

All material copyright (c) 2005 Severnside Composers Alliance  0117 904 8902