Kari Besharse, lecturer of music, composed the title piece for the new album, “Embers.”
Besharse and several other current and former members of the Southeastern Louisiana University music program produced “Embers,” a CD of original music for saxophone with piano and electronic sound.
“The work combines facets of contemporary music with new technological resources, traditional instruments and ensembles,” Besharse, who coordinated the production, said.
Assisting in the project were Instructor Philip Schuessler and Richard A. Schwartz, previously with SLU and now with Eastern New Mexico University.
“The synthetic sounds used in the album include electronic accompaniment, electronic sounds and live sounds from nature that all interplay,” she added.
Performers on the CD include Schuessler and Schwartz and Southeastern Professor and Grammy-nominated pianist Kenneth Boulton.
“We have a wide diversity of talent at Southeastern that allowed us to develop a jazzy-classical sound with lots of interplay using only a few instruments and synthetic sound,” Schuessler explained.
Tracks on the album include composer Ray Pizzi’s “Combat Zone” featuring Schwartz on alto saxophone; “Intervals I” by Schuessler with Schwartz on saxophone and Boulton on piano; “Angels,” composed by Professor Stephen Suber, which recalls the memories of “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” with Schwartz and Boulton; Schuessler’s “Interruptions III” featuring Schwartz on saxophone with electroacoustic music; Schuessler’s “Driftwood Box Puzzle” with Schwartz on saxophone and Schuessler on piano; and Besharse’s “Embers” featuring Schwartz and Schuessler.
“I was truly honored when Richard Schwartz wanted to include my composition ‘Angels’ in the project,” Suber said. “This is an ideal situation for any composer — to have my composition performed and recorded by performers of the highest caliber, to have my piece played with loving attention to detail and accuracy, and to hear my work being brought to life almost as I imagined it would sound. I am thrilled with the result.”
Besharse said the album had been in the works for several years and started as an initiative involving her, her husband Schuessler, and Schwartz, who was then at Southeastern. The other musicians and composers were brought into the production as it progressed.
“The success of this recording project illustrates how much our faculty enjoys collaborating with each other in so many ways,” said Boulton, interim head of the Department of Fine and Performing Arts. “It is one of the many aspects that makes this department such an exciting and artistically gratifying place to be.”
The album is available through Centaur Records, one of the oldest and largest independent classical labels. Southeastern Art Instructor Ben Diller designed the cover art.