An abstract collage with a face, piano keys and shapes

Composer Paul Salerni ’73 first collaborated with the Bowers Fader Duo—Jessica Bowers, mezzo-soprano, and Oren Fader, guitar—in 2016. Their new album, People, Places, & Pets (Bridge Records), features Finding One Self and Ekphrastic Songs, two song cycles based on the poetry of David Ferry ’46. Among other tracks are Salerni’s settings of a Robert Frost poem (“The Cow in Apple-Time”), of works translated by Richard Wilbur ’42 (“Mirabeau Bridge” and “Phone Booth”) and of a poem written by Wilbur himself (“Piazza di Spagna, Early Morning”).

There Used to Be Horses Here, by Amy Speace ’90 with The Orphan Brigade (Proper Records), was recorded over just four days in Nashville, Tenn. “While I was singing over what those guys were playing, it made me feel like I was flying,” Speace says. But the album—whose songs include “Mother Is a Country,” “Father’s Day” and “Grief Is a Lonely Land”—reflects a lifetime of memories and relationships for the songwriter, who lost her father not long after becoming a mother herself.

“This work was written and premiered in the depths of the Trump administration, recorded from the heart of the coronavirus pandemic, and edited during the weeks surrounding the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol building,” writes composer Gregory W. Brown ’98 of his album Fall and Decline (Navona Records). “It is the product of its time: hope and creativity in the face of decline.” The sextet Variant 6 provides the vocals for songs based on The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyam, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire and other texts.

Illustration by Franziska Barczyk