Letters & Fantasies

Letters & Fantasies

Refueling the Motor City
David DiChiera
Angela Theis
Ivan Moshchuk
Annalise Dzwonczyk
Yury Revich
Matthew Konopacki
Berthold Brauer
Aleksey Shadrin
Catalog Number: 
new classical
solo voice
in memoriam

Detroit, MI

Release Date: 
Aug 25, 2017
Liner Notes: 
1 CD
One Sheet: 

With a resume that included founding and leading a couple of major opera companies (Michigan Opera Theatre and Opera Pacific, not to mention directing the Dayton Opera Association and serving as president of Opera America), David DiChiera (1935-2018) could have been forgiven for occasionally allowing his composing career to be overshadowed. To celebrate his 2017 retirement at 82 his friends and colleagues produced an album of his chamber works, Letters & Fantasies, that show “Dr. D” proudly wearing his composer hat.

DiChiera’s story of dedication, perseverance, and talent, has become synonymous with the revival of Detroit and it is no coincidence that this album represents a grand synthesis of all that he strove for: supporting young, diverse, local talent (including pianist Ivan Moshchuk and vocalists Angela Theis, Annalise Dzwonczyk, and Matthew Konopacki) and international rising stars (such as Yury Revich playing the 1709 Stradivarius “Princess Aurora” violin, and cellist Aleksey Shadrin). The album was recorded by the Berlin Phil’s engineer Caroline Siegers in the atmospheric ambience of Detroit’s Jam Handy Film Studios (formerly used for making cartoons for General Motors).

DiChiera’s musical style is poignant, melodic and expressively Neo-romantic, always demonstrating his deep understanding of drama, gesture, and atmosphere. Each work contains an opera in miniature. The potent dissonances of early works such as the Four Sonnets after verses by Edna St. Vincent Millay (1964) contrast sharply with the stark serialism of the Black Beads (1969) vocal trilogy. The instrumental works such as the Fantasy for violin and piano (1963) and Ballade for solo piano (2008) exude expertly crafted dramaturgy. Later works such as Letter to Sarah for baritone, trumpet, and piano (2015) mark a return to the power of simplicity and direct lyricism.

Taken as a whole, Letters & Fantasies is not only a lifelong missive from a warm and gifted artist but also a love letter from his friends and admirers for the community he fostered.

Born in McKeesport, Pennsylvania and raised in Los Angeles, California, David DiChiera received a Master’s degree in Composition at UCLA with highest honors in 1956. He was then selected to be a Fulbright scholar for studies in Italy where he conducted extensive research on unpublished manuscripts of eighteenth century opera. After receiving his Ph.D in musicology from UCLA, DiChiera moved to suburban Detroit in 1962 to become a professor and ultimately chairman of music at Oakland University. In 1971, he founded Michigan Opera Theatre in Detroit. At the behest of the President of Italy, in 2016 DiChiera received the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic (the country’s highest honor) in recognition of his “lifelong commitment to the dissemination of the Italian language and culture and his dynamic promotion of Italian opera through the world-renowned Michigan Opera Theatre.”



"The affection of pianist Ivan Moshchuk and his colleagues for David DiChiera and his music is ever present in this recording, their warmth battling against chilly conditions in the historic Jam Handy Film Studios in Detroit, once used by General Motors for making cartoons. The piano suffers a little in the cold but the sound quality is good, capturing the vocalist’s nuances and impressive range, as well as Yury Revich’s “Princess Aurora” Stradivarius violin. With nice illustrations, all sung texts included and nicely written notes by Ivan Moshchuk, this is an attractive release of some finely crafted music." [FULL ARTICLE] - Dominy Clements


"The result is undoubtedly rewarding: DiChiera in some ways continues a lyrical tradition that in Europe has suffered a careless isolation." [FULL ARTICLE] - Marco Gatto


"The recording represents an impressive and substantial monument to Dichiera's work, centering as it does on the sheer and inescapable beauty of voice and of melody. Extensive liner notes by Ivan Moshchuk flesh out the recording and the artists on it, including lyrics to all the songs. An appealing collection recommended for any lover of modern and classical music in the Western tradition." [FULL ARTICLE]