William Neil’s compositions present the listener with an intense brilliant effect (FANFARE MAGAZINE) and represents contemporary writing at its most intellectual probing (CHICAGO TRIBUNE).
Never exhausting his quest for what he calls “dream craft”, Neil regularly performs with Project Fourth Stream, immersing himself in the energy of improvisation and spontaneous composition. In the 1980’s Neil was appointed as the first composer-in-residence with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the first residency of its kind with a major American opera company. He then went on to produce award winning concerts and events at the New Music Chicago Spring Festival for several years. His has composed music for celebrated musicians including John Bruce Yeh and Chicago Pro Musica, guitarist Michael Lorimer and soprano Barbara Ann Martin. The Rome Prize and the Charles Ives Award are among his honors. His work has been recognized through grants from the National Endowment of the Arts, the Illinois Arts Council, fellowships from the Fulbright Commission and the American Symphony Orchestra League and awards from ASCAP and BMI. In 2008 he served as the McKnight Visiting Composer with the American Composers Forum for the city of Winona, MN. Most recently, Trio Malipiero premiered his piano trio, Notte dei Cristalli, at the Teatro alla Specola in Padova in June. The La Crosse Symphony Orchestra, directed by Alexander Platt will premiere his Symphony No. 1 (Sinfonia delle Gioie) in October of this year.Read More
Article by Lucio Francesco Masci, appeared in Jemi (We are), an Arbëreshë / Italo-Albanian Website. Translation by Nick Ceramella
In the silence of music
A rare thing can be precious for its uniqueness, but also for its high expressive value, or for both reasons.
On Saturday 27 June 2015, in Santa Sofia d’Epiro (Shën Sofi), an Arbëreshë (Italo-Albanian) town in Calabria, Southern Italy, a rare, and perhaps unique event took place, William Neil’s Concerto Verde, Bianco, Rosso (Green, White, Red Concert).
Besides some of his own compositions, he played on the piano some works by Alexander Scriabin, Johann Sebastian Bach, Burt Bacharach-Hal David, and Tom Gullion. Each piece was thematically introduced by six of his poems which were masterly narrated by the Arbëreshë scholar Nick Ceramella, who also translated them into Italian.
The title of the recital, Verde Bianco, Rosso, ‘is above all a homage to Italy and its culture’, Mr Neil says. But in more personal terms, each colour represents a different aspect: green symbolizes the balance between past and present, white the purity of voice and Neil’s trust in his creativity instilled in his music and poems, and, lastly, red expresses the spontaneity which he cultivates in his piano improvisations.
As soon as the music starts, one is charmed, and virtually feels physically wrapped in it, so one has the sensation of getting absorbed into a whirl of notes. Meanwhile, the Being is poised in a state of pleasant relaxation in which one can hear the sound of silence until the whole experience becomes an agreeable dream. During this trip between sound and words, music and poetry, where poetry is also music and blends with it, one can see little by little, or rather hear, a wide variety of colours among which the most evident ones are the relaxing green, the spiritual white, and the creative red.
Mr Neil. this ecletic and peculiar musician-poet, who rejects any particular genre, though he finds himself in all of them, in agreement with the Italian philosopher Benedetto Croce, confirms that Art has no genres. He does not only offer his works, but also those of composers of different periods, whose artistry he touches on with great inventiveness and originality. Thus making us perceive that Pure Beauty is timeless and does not belong to any genre.
By going from the romantic Scriabin and passing to the experimental jazz player Tom Gullion one can catch, however slightly, conscious or unconscious hints at some contemporary musicians such as Cage, Piazzolla, Glass, Jarrett, which confirms that music is basically an extreme elevation of human beings and that there is no genre distinction.
Through his amazing performance at Santa Sofia, Neil has not only shown his great expressive ability and talent, but equally important, as everybody has certainly noticed, also the courage of humbleness, a feature our World badly needs nowadays.
Now I would like to close this review by thanking our fellow-villagers, Nick Ceramella for offering us the terrific opportunity to delight in William Neil’s music and poetry, and Demetrio Ceramella, promotor of this initiative financed by the local municipality.