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Voices of the Valley

She Walks in Beauty

CD: Forlorn Hope
The Donner Party Musical

DVD: Scenes from Karna:
A Shadow Puppet Opera

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2020: See a new review of "Voices of the Valley" under "More Reviews" below!

Voices of the Valley:
Danielle Woerner, Soprano
Sings Music by
Hudson Valley Composers

Albany Records (Troy 0877)

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  Listen to Samples
   Song of the Moon Festival in the Woods
   A Shady Friend
   Anna Margarita's Will
   At Least to Pray

"Voices of the Valley is Simply Sensational"
"The folks on American Idol should hear this! That would give them some perspective on what a real singer is." -- David Malachowski, Daily Freeman, Kingston, NY

"[An] interesting collection....Woerner has more than enough technique to bring off this varied program." --John Boyer, American Record Guide

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Called "Voices of the Valley: Danielle Woerner, Soprano, Sings Music by Hudson Valley Composers," this sparkling CD features Danielle in music of Peter Schickele, Robert Starer, Aurora Northland, James Fitzwilliam, Robert Baksa, and Alan Shulman, with Schickele and Fitzwilliam playing piano in their own works. Other Hudson Valley elements include a special reading by novelist Gail Godwin of her text to a major Starer chamber work-the 17-minute scena "Anna Margarita's Will"-and words by Woodstock poet Pearl Bond in Northland's songs. And there are performances by several more of the area's favorite musicians: pianist Barbara Pickhardt, and Hudson Valley Philharmonic players Susan Seligman, cello; Marcia Gates, flute; and Harry F. Ditzel, horn. The CD's 72 minutes of music display a great variety of compositional styles and approaches to the texts (which also include poems by Emily Dickinson, William Cavendish, and Dante Gabriel Rossetti).

The recording began as an outgrowth of Danielle's fall, 2000, semester as Artist in Residence at SUNY Ulster (Stone Ridge, NY), which featured a very successful concert of this musical program. The concert was later given by the same composers/performers at the Pleshakov Music Center in Hudson, NY. This studio version of the program was completed at NRS Recording Studio in Catskill, NY, with the team of award-winning engineer Scott Petito and producer extraordinaire Baikida Carroll. It also had input from esteemed singer Bethany Beardslee Winham, and recording services by Christopher Winham at Pro North in Rhinebeck, NY. It's a project of the Kingston-based Deep Listening Institute, Ltd.


Susan Seligman
Photo by Michael Gold
"Ms. Woerner sang sweetly, surely and unaffectedly, with specially good support from the cellist Susan Seligman"
— Paul Griffiths, The New York Times — review of concert performance of Robert Starer's Images of Man.
Soprano:   Danielle Woerner
Piano: James Fitzwilliam, Barbara Pickhardt and Peter Schickele
Cello: Susan Seligman
Flute: Marcia Gates
Horn: Harry F. Ditzel


Executive Producer:   Danielle Woerner/Woodlark Arts, Inc.
Producer: Baikida Carroll
Engineers: Scott Petito and Christopher Winham
Recorded at: NRS Studio, Catskill, NY, and Pro North Studio, Rhinebeck, NY


CD Program:


1.  1:56   Song of the Moon Festival in the Woods (1934)*
Alan Shulman (John Milton)
James Fitzwilliam, piano
  Selections from Emily Dickinson Songs (1964-99)
Robert Baksa
2.  1:14   A shady friend for torrid days
3.  3:18   Heart, we will forget him
4.  1:42   What Inn is this?
5.  1:59   Two butterflies went out at noon
Barbara Pickhardt, piano
  Eternity: A song cycle to five poems of Emily Dickinson (1999-2000) *
James Fitzwilliam - commissioned by Susan Seligman
6.  2:53   Let down the bars, O Death
7.  1:37   Setting Sail
8.  2:15   At least to pray is left
9.  2:10   Eternity
10.  2:51   Farewell
Susan Seligman, cello
James Fitzwilliam, piano
  Three Songs for a Wedding (1981)*
Peter Schickele
11.  1:50   Love's Matrimony (William Cavendish)
12.  4:13   Sudden Light (Dante Gabriel Rossetti)
13.  2:41   Love's Commission (William Cavendish)
Peter Schickele, piano
  Anna Margarita's Will (1979) *
Robert Starer (Gail Godwin)
14.  6:19   A reading of the text by Gail Godwin
15.  17:25   Anna Margarita's Will, for soprano, flute, horn, cello & piano
Marcia Gates, flute
Harry F. Ditzel, horn
Susan Seligman 'cello
James Fitzwilliam, piano
  Selections from The Unicorn Love Poems (1981-82)
Aurora Northland (Pearl Bond)
16.  2:48   Yesterday's Rain
17.  3:36   Parable
18.  3:27   Parallel
19.  2:55   Unicorn 3
20.  1:19   Unicorn 4
21.  2:48   Summary
Barbara Pickhardt, piano

Duration: 72 minutes


She Walks in Beauty:
Soprano Danielle Woerner
Sings Chamber Music and Songs
of Otto Luening and Robert Starer

Parnassus Records #PACD 96012

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  Listen to Samples
   It is an Easy Thing
   She Walks in Beauty
   The Ideal Self


"This is an extremely important recording.... [both] because it gives us an unmistakably authentic 'from the horse's mouth' view of some ravishing modern vocal music... and because it captures and presents a uniquely gifted artist in her glorious prime." -CLASSICAL SINGER Magazine
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This CD, also recommended by FanFare magazine, brings together vocal music of two of the great, late elder statesmen of American music, Otto Luening and Robert Starer, sung by a soprano who worked closely with both composers and frequently performed with them. Their compositional styles, though quite different, make highly compatible, complementary listening on this disk. The CD's musical program (a generous 77 minutes) is tied together by a number of elements: the poetry, the fact that several of the pieces were written for Danielle, and the composers' use of soprano voice with various combinations of string quartet, flute, clarinet and piano. Several tracks feature Robert Starer as pianist in his own music: the only commercial recordings of Starer in performance. All the music was either previously unrecorded or long out of print at the time of this CD's release in 1999. It was a project of the Deep Listening Institute Ltd., (formerly the Pauline Oliveros Foundation, Inc.), in Kingston, NY.


Soprano:   Danielle Woerner
Piano:   Robert Starer and Sylvia Buccelli
Flute:   Marcia Gates and Patricia Spencer
Clarinet:   Jean Kopperud

Executive Producer:   Danielle Woerner
Music Producer:   Baikida Carroll
Engineer:   Tom Mark

Hudson Valley Philharmonic String Quartet:
   Violins:   Carole Cowan & Emily Faxon
   Viola:   Valentina Charlap-Evans
   Cello:   Susan Seligman
Recorded in the Hudson Valley at The Make-Believe Ballroom, West Shokan, NY


CD Program:


  Otto Luening:
1.   She walks in Beauty, for voice and piano
2.   Venilia, for voice & piano
3.   At Christmas time, for voice & piano
   Robert Starer:
4.   Letter to a Composer, for voice, flute, clarinet & string quartet (composer at the piano)
   Otto Luening: Songs of Emily Dickinson, for voice & piano
5.   Our share of night to bear
6.   'Hope' is the thing with feathers
7.   I felt a Cleavage in my Mind
8.   If I can stop on Heart from breaking
   Robert Starer: Images of Man, for voice, flute, cello & piano (composer at the piano)
9.   The Universal Man
10.   Behold Eternal Death
11.   Compell the Poor
12.   I am Weary"
13.   O Prince of Light
14.   It is an Easy Thing
15.   Male and Female
16.   Rise from the Dews of Death
   Otto Luening: Suite for soprano voice & flute, with Patricia Spencer, flute
17.   No. 1, "Night Song"
18.   No. 2, "Dawn Piece"
19.   No. 3, "Morning Song"
20.   No. 4, "Evening Song"
   Robert Starer:
21.   The Ideal Self, for voice, flute & piano With the composer and Marcia Gates, flute
   Otto Luening: selected Blake Songs, for voice & piano
22.   Love's Secret
23.   Ah! Sun-flower
24.   The Little Vagabond
   Otto Luening: The Soundless Song, for voice, flute, clarinet, string quartet & piano:
25.   No. 1, String Quartet
26.   No. 2, Moonlight, for voice & piano
27.   No. 3, String Quartet
28.   No. 4, The Silent Voice, for voice & piano
29.   No. 5, Flute & Clarinet
30.   No. 6, The Soundless Song
   Otto Luening:
31.   Transience, for voice & piano

More About This Recording

Otto Luening and Robert Starer are among our century's finest writers for the voice. They share a fundamentally tonal approach to composition, utilizing interesting rhythmic and harmonic elements along with their fine melodic gifts. Each in his highly individual composer's voice displays a deep sensitivity to the poetry he sets to music: texts by William Blake, Emily Dickinson, Gail Godwin, and others.

The CD's musical program is tied together by a number of elements: the poetry, the fact that several of the pieces were written for Danielle Woerner to sing, and the composers' use of soprano voice with various combinations of string quartet, flute, clarinet and piano. Robert Starer himself performs the piano parts in his music; Otto Luening was very much involved in the planning of this CD until his death in September 1996. All the performers share a commitment to the performance of new American music.

Over the past seven years Robert Starer (who lives in Woodstock, New York) and Danielle Woerner have worked together frequently, in performances in the Hudson Valley and in the preparation of new works. He wrote Letter to a Composer for her debut with the Woodstock Chamber Orchestra in 1995, and subsequently rescored the piece for the small chamber ensemble (string quartet and two winds) that plays it on this CD.


Production Details

  • Duration: 74 minutes, 14 seconds.
  • Recorded in analog format and digitally remastered for editing, to retain the warmth and depth of a concert hall performance.
  • 24-page booklet includes illustrations complete texts, program notes, biographies, and a memoir of Otto Luening by Washington Post classical critic Tim page.


DVD: Scenes from Karna:
A Shadow Puppet Opera

Music and Libretto by Barbara Benary

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Coming Soon


"agile puppeteering...agreeable singing, [and] the instruments, whose broad, echoing resonances speak ...of a serene and motionless realm at peace with itself."
-- The New York Times
   Read Complete Review

Through music and shadow puppetry, the opera tells a traditional story based on the life of Karna, an anti-hero of the Indian epic, the Mahabharata. This DVD includes 30 minutes of excerpts in English from the February 1994 performances of Barbara Benary's opera, including some backstage footage of dhalang (puppeteer) Barbara Pollitt in action, videoed live at LaMama ETC theatre, New York City. It features the singing of soprano Danielle Woerner, tenor Dennis Delgado, high baritone Jody Kruskal, and bass David Olsen, and the playing of Gamelan Son of Lion, directed by Benary.


Forlorn Hope:
The Donner Party Musical

Music and Lyrics by Michael Bitterman,
Book by Teri Harpster

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In the spring of 1846, 87 men, women and children set out from Springfield, Illinois, on a 2000-mile journey by wagon train to find their Eden in the West, in California. The fortunate ones died early, before they ever arrived in Sacramento, yet 42 people did manage to survive nearly six months, trapped high in the snow-bound Sierra Nevada Mountain range with no food and little shelter. This musical tells the story of their love, hope, faith, struggle and survival.

The 22 tracks on this original studio recording of the full score (recorded 2003) feature a number of Hudson Valley singers, including soprano Danielle Woerner in the role of Margaret Reed, plus several alumni/ae of her voice studio--Lia Sumerano, Steve Stiert, Robert DeRivera and Susan Mintzer--in other featured roles. Touching, sometimes funny, and always full of character, the songs revisit this historic journey with originality and heart.