Miriam Gideon - Six Cuckoos in Quest of a Composer (Blair Salter, piano)

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Canadian collaborative pianist Blair Salter is a versatile performer and music director who has worked at prestigious opera companies and young artist programs throughout the United States and Canada. She has worked on staff at Houston Grand Opera, Opera Colorado, Michigan Opera Theatre, and the CoOPERAtive Program. Blair is an advocate of art song and contemporary music; she has worked on several operatic world premieres, performed with the Khemia Ensemble and AEPEX Contemporary Performance, and together with soprano Dorothy Gal, she commissioned the set of songs Sheltered Garden by Jamie Leidwinger. She completed her Doctorate of Musical Arts in Collaborative Piano at the University of Michigan, where she studied with Martin Katz. A graduate of the Houston Grand Opera Studio, San Francisco Opera’s Merola Young Artist Program, Wolf Trap Opera, and the Glimmerglass Festival, Blair is currently based in Houston and is a member of the music staff at Santa Fe Opera.

 

Miriam Gideon was born in Greeley, Colorado, where her father was a Reform rabbi. Her interest in composition soon became the primary focus of her creative energies. At Boston University, where she earned her bachelor's degree with a major in French literature and a minor in mathematics, Gideon continued to study music, and she returned to New York after graduation with a view toward a career in public school teaching. But the urge to compose absorbed her more and more.

In 1946 she earned her master's degree in musicology from Columbia University, but even before matriculation she began teaching at Brooklyn College. The eminent composer and intellect Hugo Weisgall, the chairman of the faculty at the Jewish Theological Seminary's Cantors Institute and Seminary College of Jewish Music (now the H. L. Miller Cantorial School), invited her to teach there, and thus began a fruitful, rewarding, and mutually beneficial affiliation for some forty years. Weisgall became a fervent champion of her music, and in 1970 she earned her doctorate (Doctor of Sacred Music) from the Seminary under his guidance.

Gideon felt that defined considerations of sonorities and technical devices wrongly mask the more important matters of emotional impulses—with which she believed there was insufficient concern in postwar 20th-century music. She cautioned that many composers were so eager to demonstrate facility that they didn't allow themselves to become personally involved in their own music.

 

Six Cuckoos in Quest of a Composer - Miriam Gideon
Recorded at home in Houston, TX, October 2020
Blair Salter, piano
Mastered by Robert Scott Thompson, Aucourant Records.
Property of Shelter Recording Project, American Composers Alliance