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 Brian Conn
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 Making the Streets Safe
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The play list from Making the Streets Safe for Classical Music, Again ©.  Order your copy now.

Check out the play list from Requiem for chorus and orchestra ©,  Intense Measures © and Vocalnetics ©.


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Select the music note next to each song biography below to hear a short audio clip from Making the Streets Safe for Classical Music, Again ©.  Try the sample below.

Romulus & Remus

Track # 1 - Romulus and Remus

Romulus & Remus

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Romulus & Remus

Romulus and Remus

Music by Brian Conn - Composed 1998
Piano I: Kim Schmidt; Piano II:  Linda Camp

This piece was written for my friend Kimberly Schmidt who had been asking me to write a piece for two pianos for quite some time.  I wrote it as a Christmas present for him three years ago.   I was inspired to write this work after seeing a documentary on the founding of Rome.  It fascinated me how a group of people could come together and form one of the most influential civilizations known to man.  In the Roman mythology, Romulus and Remus were the sons of Mars who were set afloat on the Tiber River and left to die. They were suckled by a she-wolf and grew up to become the founders and first rulers of the Roman Empire.  This work is my impression of how the two brothers rose up and created on of the most far reaching influential and lasting empires on earth.  The pianos represent each brother. The opening section is a creation statement, a willing of the consciousness of the gods to form a world from a void that had previously existed. From the dust and energy of the earth and gods, the civilization is willed into being. With eruptions of energy, the music rises and falls just as it would when the gods cupped handfuls of earth and breathed life into man. Suddenly, with an explosion, the two brothers have taken over the reigns of the gods and are destined to create Rome as they deem fit.  A swirling motion that depicts the two brothers flinging dirt and dust into the air as they build the foundations that will be Rome.  With force and sheer will, they chisel away at the stone.  The dust clears for a moment, just long enough for them to catch their breath.  Then they are back at it, as typical brothers struggling for control.  The motives are shared by each part as a representation of a common goal by the brothers.  Once the foundations are in place a sort of contemplation takes place as to the next step in the progression.  A lyrical section that has little exchange of motives between the two pianos represents their individual contemplations on how to proceed. Romulus’ and Remus’ contemplations lead to the establishment of the pillars that form the temples and courts of Rome.  The peoples are brought together and soon the vision of the gods plan is given to them and they proceed to expand and dominate their neighboring lands. Eventually, all that had come before is brought together as the music depicts by restating previous motive, all coming together in a cataclysmic finale.  The dust slowly settles and we see what became the Roman world, as we know it.  From the chaos and turmoil comes clarity and focus.  The closing statement represents Rome at the height of its glory.  Firm, steadfast, and founded in democracy and truth, reveling in the pursuit of knowledge and their existence.  Phew! That certainly paints a weighty picture.

Two German Songs

I  Lebt Who

Two German Songs

II Hoffnung

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Two German Songs

Music by Brian Conn - Words Annette von Droste-Hulshoff, Friedrich von Schiller - Composed 1999
Soprano: Mary Ann Beatty; Piano: Brian Conn

Mary Ann Beatty has come to be a close friend of mine. We met via St. James in Arlington Heights as liturgical musicians. Her voice was just what I was looking for. I asked her what kind of language she liked to sing in and what her vocal range was.  I love to use German because it lends itself to my music so well.  She agreed and I went searching for a German text to use.  I found a book of German poetry from the Romantic era.  I chose Hoffnung and Lebt Wohl from the various selections and went to work.  I intended them to have a Schumann flavor, “The Earl King” being my favorite piece of German Lieder.  Finally, after three years of trying to get Mary Ann into the studio (she’s the hardest working soprano in Chicago) it happened in August.  We’re both very pleased with the finished product.  Mary Ann put more effort into learning my music and perfecting the German pronunciation then anyone I’ve ever worked with.  It was quite flattering to have someone put that sort of effort into one of my works.

L'Amero Saro Costante
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L’Amero Saro Costante

Music by Brian Conn - Words W.A. Mozart, M.A. Cesti - Composed 1998
Soprano: Mary Ann Beatty, Colleen Bolthouse; Altos: Val Glowinski, Kristi French; Tenors: Tim Bergman, Andy
Jeffrey; Basses:  Andy Schultz, Paul Evensen

This work was commissioned by Pam Zawne as a wedding present to her husband Larry Cabeen.  We met Pam and Larry on a ski trip that was organized by Ken and my surrogate mother Mary Seip.  We all went skiing and spent a week together, skiing and eating, eating and skiing.  Six months later, Pam called and wanted me to write something to be performed at their wedding. She and Larry love Italian opera and sing in the Elgin Choral Union.  I immediately thought of the words to Mozart’s “L’amero Saro Costante”. The text wasn’t quite long enough so I went through some of my Norton Samplers from college and came across an aria by Antonio Cesti.  I found an amorous section from an aria and coupled that with the Mozart text.  Since I didn’t know for sure what instrumentalists might be at the wedding, I wrote it as an accepella piece.  I was to conduct it at the wedding but a month prior to the wedding I won a trip to England for a week to hear the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Royal Albert Hall.  Since the CSO was paying for first class airfare and was putting us up at the Hyde Park Hilton, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. L’amero was performed, went well, but the tape recorder didn’t work so I didn’t get to hear the piece until a year later when I recorded it for this CD.

Salve of the Beast

Salve of the Beast

Music by Brian Conn - Composed 2001
Piano:  Brian Conn

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I started this piece in February of 20001.  It’s one of those Liszt inspired works that just sort of flowed through me.  I wrote the first two pages right out.  I had intended to perform it at the salon we had the end of February but it wasn’t quite prepared yet.  I worked on it off and on until August when I made myself finish it to be included on the “Streets” CD.  At the same time I was practicing the other pieces for the CD recording session.  I spent several hours a day trying to work up “Beast”.  I didn’t think it really conveyed the title of soothing the savage beast until I heard it on the play back and realized it did make sense when you heard it as a whole.  The ending still isn’t quite as fast as it should be in my minds ear but I think any pianist would be hard pressed to execute at actual tempo.  Damn that spirit of Franz Liszt!

Wanting Not But That of Youth
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Wanting Not But That of Youth

Words and Music by Brian Conn - Composed 1991
Soprano:  Mary Seip; Violin: Thomas Yang; Cello: Steven Houser; Piano:  Brian Conn

I wrote this for my friend Mary Seip who has a very close relationship with her father.  The piece ventures into polytonality in spots and has a Villa Lobos flavor to it.  The poem I wrote for the piece tries to instill a longing for the naiveté of youth.  I love the upper register of Mary’s voice and this piece takes her to the top of her range. Mostly because the text demands it not because I have a sadistic nature towards sopranos. Mary knows my penchant for searing soprano lines, as she is the soprano in Psiren Psalm that hits the high “c’s” at the very end of the piece.  When we first rehearsed the piece I thought it might be too dissimilar to the rest of the pieces on “Streets”. But it seems the more you listen to it, the more it grows on you. We recorded this on September 11th along with the Lullaby for Madeleine.  Mary showed up at the studio an emotional mess but after a couple of takes and a “pep talk”, the consummate performer pulled herself together, focused, and it all turned out quite well.  It’s the one piece from the CD that keeps playing over and over in my mind.

Falling on Love
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Falling on Love (To Those Who’ve Grown Apart)

Music by Brian Conn - Composed 2000
Violin I: Thomas Yang, Paul Vanderwerf; Violin II:  Jeri-lou Zike, Jeff Yang;  Viola: Liz Holzman, Loretta Gillespie; Cello: Steven Houser; Bass:  Timothy Shaffer

This work was inspired by the break up of a couple that Ken and I have known for many years and was very close to. Their separation upset me greatly.  After six months of being angry and frustrated I realized the only way I could get past it was to write it down in a piece of music. The work shows a couple whose marriage at the start is very placid yet a sense of a dark, foreboding, foreshadowing over both of them. The piece holds together closely then turns ugly and intense via a pizzicato section just prior to the “argument”.  The cello line and the violin line represent the couple in heated arguments, china being flung against walls, slamming doors, all in a 16th note, somewhat dissonant exchange.  The music rises and falls but keeps a frantic pace. At the end, all of the strings start dropping out leaving a lone viola line ending on the same note it started on at the beginning of the piece.  A single person coming into a relationship and leaving alone.

Lullaby for Madeleine
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Lullaby for Madeline

Words and Music by Brian Conn - Composed 1996
Soprano: Mary Seip; Violin: Thomas Yang; Viola I: Terri Van Valkinburgh; Viola II: Liz Holzman; Cello I: Peter Szczepanek; Cello II: Steven Houser

This piece was originally recorded by Marta Phillips and released on our Vocalnetics CD.  I had written it for Mary Seip to sing but because of scheduling conflicts, Mary couldn’t do it so I asked Madeleine’s mother, Marta to sing it.  It’s such a popular piece that I thought it would be fun to have Mary sing it, as originally intended and include it as a bonus track on the “Streets” CD.  Since we already had the string accompaniment recorded from the previous release, Mary recorded a few takes during the “Wanting Not But That of Youth” session.

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