WINTER MORNING WALKS – Winner of 3 GRAMMY Awards (vocal, engineering, classical composition)

liner notes
Composed by Maria Schneider
Poems by Ted Kooser
Written for and performed by the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Dawn Upshaw, Jay Anderson (bass), Frank Kimbrough (piano) & Scott Robinson (alto clarinet & bass clarinet)

    1.   Perfectly Still This Solstice Morning
    2.   When I Switched On a Light
    3.   Walking by Flashlight
    4.   I Saw a Dust Devil This Morning
    5.   My Wife and I Walk the Cold Road
    6.   All Night, in Gusty Winds
    7.   Our Finch Feeder
    8.   Spring, the Sky Rippled with Geese
    9.   How Important It Must Be

It's uncanny how much these stunningly beautiful poems feel like home to me, connecting with my southwest Minnesota roots at so many different levels. There's nothing to explain about this music, except to say it was very hard to pick which poems from Ted Kooser's Winter Morning Walks I would choose. These poems were originally titled with the date, for instance Perfectly Still This Solstice Morning  was titled December 21, Clear and five degrees. I changed the titles, as the dates were no longer chronological once musical considerations for song ordering entered the picture. But it did feel natural to open with the poem he wrote on the winter solstice, and to close with the poem he wrote on the vernal equinox to bookend Winter Morning Walks.

In writing this piece, I wanted to wrap Dawn in the improvisations of three very special musicians I've each worked with for over twenty years: Jay Anderson, Frank Kimbrough and Scott Robinson.  Not everything they played is improvised, but if you hear something that makes you smile or gives you a little shiver, chances are, it's coming from their individual creative voices. They've been making me smile and shiver for two decades now. In watching everyone work, it was also very clear that the three of them, the Australian Chamber Orchestra and Dawn, all mutually loved working together.

–Maria Schneider

Composed by Maria Schneider
English Translations of Carlos Drummond de Andrade poetry by Mark Strand
Written for & performed by The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra & Dawn Upshaw
Conducted by Maria Schneider

    10.   Prologue
    11.   The Dead in Frock Coats      
    12.   Souvenir of the Ancient World          
    13.   Don't Kill Yourself   
    14.   Quadrille

My entry into the world of Drummond came through Mark Strand's beautiful translations. Drummond's poetry immediately struck me as deeply Brazilian, and Brazil is a country for which I've long felt such an affinity. Touches of Brazil have influenced my composition ever since my first visit to Rio almost fifteen years ago. In the first introductory song, Prologue, Dawn sings purely vocalese (wordless vocals), something I've grown to love through Brazilian music. Sometimes she's in the forefront and sometimes she sings countermelodies.

In setting poems to music, the poems themselves speak the rhythm, etch the melodic contour, and emotionally elicit the harmony. I did not attempt to turn these Brazilian poems into Brazilian music. The second song, The Dead in Frock Coats, stretches out with slow melancholy, feeling the expanse of time as it inches to the final powerful line, "the everlasting sob of life." The poem Souvenir of the Ancient World is a jewel that reminds us of a simplicity in life that I think we all long for. In it, I saw Dawn in all her realness and beauty, just as Clara appears in the poem. The poem Don't Kill Yourself brims with over-the-top drama, contradictions, pain, and humor, but there is tenderness, too. When I read this poem, flamenco harmony and buleria rhythms (from the Spanish flamenco tradition) surged up as the voice wanting to express it all. The only poem set with direct Brazilian musical influence is Quadrille. As one of Drummond's most famous poems.

–Maria Schneider
When I Switched On a Light (excerpt)Listen!
Walking by Flashlight (excerpt)Listen!
My Wife and I Walk the Cold Road (excerpt)Listen!
Spring, the Sky Rippled with Geese (excerpt)Listen!
The Dead in Frock Coats (excerpt)Listen!
Souvenir of the Ancient World (excerpt)Listen!
Don't Kill Yourself (Excerpt)
Quadrille (excerpt)Listen!


Richard Tognetti, director and violin
Satu Vänskä, principal violin
Eriikka Maalismaa
Madeleine Boud
Rebecca Chan
Alice Evans
Aiko Goto
Mark Ingwersen
Ilya Isakovich
Veronique Serret

Christopher Moore, principal and low register pianist (prepared piano) on "When I Switched on a Light"
Nikki Divall
Alissa Smith

Timo-Veikko Valve, principal
Julian Thompson
Eve Silver

Orchestral Bass
Ali Yazdanfar, guest principal

Alto Clarinet and Bass Clarinet
Scott Robinson, guest

Frank Kimbrough, guest

Jay Anderson, guest


Steven Copes, concertmaster
Ruggero Allifranchini, associate concertmaster
Kyu-Young Kim, principal second violin
Thomas Kornacker, co-principal second violin
Daria T. Adams
Sunmi Chang
Nina Tso-Ning Fan
Brenda Manuel Mickens
Elsa Nilsson
Leslie Shank
Michal Sobieski
Peter McGuire, guest

Maiya Papach, acting principal 
Evelina Chao, assistant principal
Tamás Strasser
Che-Hung Chen, guest

Peter Stumpf, guest principal
Sarah Lewis
David Huckaby
Pitnarry Shin, guest
Christopher Brown, principal
Fred Bretschger, assistant principal

Julia Bogorad-Kogan, principal
Alicia McQuerrey

Kathryn Greenbank, principal
Thomas Tempel, oboe and English horn

Timothy Paradise, principal

Charles Ullery, principal
Carole Mason Smith

French Horns
Michael Gast, guest principal
Paul Straka

Douglas Carlsen, guest principal
Lynn Erickson

Timothy Lovelace, guest

The Thompson Fields – Maria Schneider Orchestra
WINTER MORNING WALKS – Winner of 3 GRAMMY Awards (vocal, engineering, classical composition)
Sky Blue (2007) (Grammy Award Winner for 'Best Instrumental Composition' -- 'Cerulean Skies')
Concert in the Garden (2nd Edition) (Grammy Award Winner for "Best Large Jazz Ensemble Recording")
Allegresse (2000)
Coming About (1996/2008)
Evanescence (1994)
Days of Wine and Roses--Live at the Jazz Standard (2000)