now your colors sing

now your colors sing

Pushing the color spectrum
Gerald Levinson
Frankfurt Radio Symphony
Hugh Wolff
Network for New Music Ensemble
Jan Kryzwicki
Marcantonio Barone
Orchestra 2001
James Freeman
Charles Abramovic
American Composers Orchestra
Olivier Latry
Carmen Pelton
Lois Bliss Herbine
Pamela Guidetti
Michael Strauss
Lori Barnett
Sophie Bruno
Susan Jones
William Kerrigan
Catalog Number: 
new classical
solo voice

Swarthmore, PA

Release Date: 
May 22, 2020
Liner Notes: 
2 CD
One Sheet: 

Gerald Levinson’s world is very much his own, a world of superb orchestral brilliance, vivid gesture, strong, pliable rhythm and long-reaching form… One might feel even that he has not invented but discovered the finest of his works, as relics of an ancient civilization might be unexpectedly discovered in some jungle. – Paul Griffiths

With its thick, clangorous sounds, its pungent combinations of double reeds and other instruments, its rhythmic pulsation and its air of concentrated repose, Anāhata is utterly original and, more important, highly communicative. Anāhata projects a sense of serenity and balance— the feeling that there is something right. – Ray Cooklis, The Cincinnati Enquirer

Composers agree: Alan Hovhaness called Anāhata a “work of genius,” Leonard Bernstein, “a masterpiece,” and Olivier Messiaen described Levinson as “one of the best composers in the United States. His style, combining a highly expanded modern tonality with memories of the metallophones of Bali, is very beautiful, very original, sometimes powerful, always moving.”

Now hear Levinson’s music for yourself with Innova’s sweeping new retrospective – Now Your Colors Sing – that spans over 40 years of his output, from small to large. The centerpiece is Anāhata (Symphony No. 1), in a brilliant concert performance by the American Composers Orchestra, conducted by Hugh Wolff, who had commissioned the work. This exuberant, colorful work for large orchestra with expanded metal percussion is infused with influences from North Indian ragas, Balinese gamelan, and a sense of drama from the Western tradition.  The Sanskrit title refers to “unstruck” sounds, symbolizing an entry into a deeper state of awareness of the cosmos.  Wolff also conducts another major symphonic work on this recording: Avatar, commissioned for Christoph Eschenbach’s inauguration as Music Director of the Philadelphia Orchestra. The title suggests again the potential for music to embody transcendent energies.

These works are complemented by three other large-scale compositions: Now Your Colors Sing  for double string orchestra  – whose title (citing a remark to Chagall by his former teacher) sums up one of Levinson’s defining musical characteristics;  At the Still Point of the Turning World, There the Dance Is  for a somewhat jazz-like ensemble of low reeds and strings with guitar and percussion; and Au Coeur de l’infini for organ, recorded on the great organ of Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris — currently undergoing major restoration after the 2019 fire — for which it was conceived, by its celebrated organist, Olivier Latry.

Two solo piano pieces, both homages to admired composers (Bartók and Messiaen), both performed by the incomparable poet of the piano Marcantonio Barone, provide a more inward contrast, while Ringing Changes for two pianos is a whirlwind perpetual motion, evoking ­ – like much of the music in this anthology – Indian ragas and Indonesian gamelan.  A brief, airy piano quintet, Crickets (inspired, like much of Levinson’s music, by sounds of nature), and in dark (three poems of the night), an atmospheric cycle for voice and a veiled, mysterious chamber ensemble of low flutes and strings with harp, piano, and percussion – Levinson’s “Opus 1” ­ – round out the program.  The whole is accompanied by a probing essay by Paul Griffiths, British music critic, novelist, and librettist.

Gerald Levinson is a composer and longtime faculty member at Swarthmore College whose music has been widely performed and commissioned by major orchestras and conductors in the U.S. and Europe. He was resident in Bali twice as Luce Scholar and a Guggenheim Fellow.



“Now Your Colors Sing obviously provides a splendid overview of Levinson's output. It's not the entire picture, of course—his body of work far exceeds ten compositions—but it's still comprehensive. I do wish, however, that the pieces were sequenced in the order of their creation as it would have made it easier to monitor his evolution over four decades. As quibbles go, though, it's a minor one.” [FULL ARTICLE]