Unusual but rewarding chamber music for open ears for the adventurously inquisitive, a 24- minute contemporary work for soprano, guitar, violin, saxophones, bassoon or contrabassoon, and “digital acoustics” is a welcome opportunity. Performed by an ensemble centered on singer Nancy Kingand guitarist RobertNathanson, trading as Duo Surenõ , Out of Darkness into Light by William Neil presents a text by Malgosia Sawczuk, in which the writer “hears” the words of her unborn child. The content is almost disturbing at times, but culminates in the triumph of birth. King is a commanding custodian of the vocal part, while Nathanson’s clear and fluent guitar lines, ranging from sparse ostinatos to bursts of chordal energy, provide the harmonic foundation. Neil’s music is challenging yet never without shape, the experience being both intense and uplifting.
Paul Fowles CLASSICAL GUITAR
Spiritual Adaptation to Higher Altitudes by William Neil is an ode to the spiritualism gained from rock climbing. The opening run demonstrates how fascinating the clarinet’s clarion register paired with undampened vibraphone can be. Overall, Neil achieves an excellent sense of space. Derek Emch, THE CLARINET
William Neil’s phantasmagorical Out of Darkness into Light, is a twenty-four-minute dramatic scena of operatic weight, if not length. (Neil was, for a time, composer-in-residence at the Chicago Lyric Opera.) The text is by art restorer Malgosia Sawczuk, who wrote it while working in a Chicago church, while pregnant. Trust me, the text is illuminating and powerful regarding both of these experiences. The Duo (Rob Nathanson, guitar and Nancy King, soprano, is joined by violinist Danijela Zezelj-Gualdi and by Laurent Estoppey on a variety of saxophones. Helena Kopchick Spencer on bassoons, and the composer on “digital acoutstics.” As you can imagine, the range of sonic experiences is astounding but always illuminates the music and the drama. Soprano Nancy King is extraordinary. This is a work that cries out for performance whenever the musical forces and an open-minded audience can be found. -Al Kunze SOUNDBOARD
“The range of sonic experiences is astounding but always illuminates the music and the drama.” SOUNDBOARD MAGAZINE.
William Neil’s compositions present the listener with an intense brilliant effect. FANFARE MAGAZINE
His music represents contemporary writing at its most intellectual probing. CHICAGO TRIBUNE
His extremely characteristic harmonic world is fundamental to the unfolding of his music. CLASSICAL CD REVIEW
(Concerto for Piccolo Clarinet) is an absorbing and well-made piece, John von Rhein, THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE
Neil’s Concerto for Piccolo Clarinet achieved another-worldly atmosphere with its fluid melodies for E-Flat clarinet… Wilma Salisbury, CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER
Rhapsody for Violin and Orchestra, commissioned by Chicago’s Katherine Abelson, proved a bright, attractive work with an open sound and a long noble romantic line. Joseph Conniff LEADER FINE ARTS CRITIC
The rhapsody, a ravishing collage of sinuous melodies, extends Neil’s use of “shadow themes”; each theme spawns several close variations, which crowd around like musical doppelgangers. Ted Shenn, CHICAGO READER
The world premiere of “The Guilt of Lillian Sloan,” the first product of the Lyric Opera’s composer-in-residence program, proved to be a powerful and effective piece of music and theater. Wynne Delacoma, CHICAGO TRIBUNE
…the effect here was that of a tightly unified, fast moving and intensely dramatic story of a crime of passion based on an actual British murder case of some 60 years ago. The libretto, credited to the composer William Neil and Frank Galati, is a strong book. a sturdy foundation for the action. The score consistently illuminated and intensified the words, and the cumulative effect in this staging, directed by Galati, was one of the significant talents significantly employed. Robert C. Marsh, CHICAGO SUN TIMES
It opens with the beautiful ‘Out of Darkness into Light’ by William Neil. This is probably the one track that really showcases King’s incredible vocal range to its full. Darren Rea REVIEW GRAVEYARD
…composer William Neil’s ethereal, tinkling sound design remind us that “Menagerie” itself is a delicately spun creature of memory — beautiful and easily broken. Mike Fischer, THE MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL
Concerto for Piccolo Clarinet and Chamber Orchestra, Montecito Journal, July 2017
Out of Darkness Into Light, WHQR in Willmington, NC, March 2017
Pro Musica, under the artistic direction of Robert Nathanson, presents its 6th concert celebrating new music and works of living composers. On Thursday, March 30 at 7:00pm, composer William Neil will perform with the group at the Cameron Art Museum. Neil will begin the concert by performing short compositions on the piano, followed by the premiere of Neil’s Out of Darkness Into Light. The piece will be performed by guitarist Nathanson, Soprano Nancy King, saxophonist Laurent Estoppey, violinist Danijella Zezelj-Gualdi, and contra bassoonist Helena Spencer. Composer William Neil will accompany with digital acoustics.
Out of Darkness Into Light, WFMT Radio in Chicago
Sinfonia delle Gioie, SEVEN Magazine, September 2015
Oratoria, Winona Daily News, April 2009
Rhapsody for Violin and Orchestra, The Chicago Reader, March 1999
Interview about setting the texts of D.H. Lawrence