WHAT A PIECE OF WORK IS MAN
A BEAUTIFULLY PERFORMED COLLECTION OF VOCAL WORKS BASED ON SHAKESPEARE BY JOSEPH SUMMER.
Joseph Summer’s preoccupation with the works of Shakespeare began in 1991, when he set the soliloquy “To Be or Not To Be” for tenor and piano. This project kindled a spark that grew rapidly and forcefully, and has burned undiminished to the present day. The tally now stands at over fifty settings contained in six books, known collectively as the Oxford Songs. These range from short arias for solo voice to fully orchestrated cantatas for several singers lasting over half an hour. In June 2000, a twenty-minute setting of the famous balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet was commissioned and premiered at Merkin Hall in New York City. Beyond the Oxfordian realm, Joseph Summer has completed seven operas and numerous orchestral works. In 2003, in collaboration with music director John McGinn, Summer founded The Shakespeare Concerts. To date, this series has presented concerts of Bard settings (by Summer and others) to audiences across Massachusetts, as well as St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. In its second season, it featured singers from Opera Unlimited of London, England. This CD is drawn from the Oxford Songs and represents the debut album of the Shakespeare Concerts.