Lake Forest Symphony Recordings

In 2017 and 2018, the Lake Forest Symphony recorded its first two major commercial recordings with the GRAMMY AWARD WINNING Cedille Records.

Recording day 2

Recording day 2

Recording at the James Lumber Center

Recording at the James Lumber Center

Sisters in Song

(January 22–25, 2018)

Nicole Cabell and Alyson Cambridge, acclaimed sopranos and close friends, record together for the first time on an album of opera duets by Mozart, Offenbach, Humperdinck, and Delibes and specially commissioned duet arrangements of classical songs, folk tunes, and African-American spirituals.

Cabell, 2005 winner of the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition, is “a faultlessly gleaming soprano” (Financial Times). Cambridge is “radiant, vocally assured . . . and artistically imaginative” (Washington Post), known for her “revelatory, sensual, smoky readings” (Opera News). Joining them in the “Soave sia il vento” trio from Mozart’s Così fan tutte is the “mellow-voiced and charismatic” (New York Times) baritone Will Liverman. They’re accompanied on their Cedille debut by the Lake Forest Symphony under 2015 Sir Georg Solti Conducting Award winner Vladimir Kulenovic.

Inspired by opera stars Kathleen Battle & Jessye Norman’s spirituals recording from the early 1990s, the sopranos describe their album as a “dream project” that’s “uniquely us,” reflecting their multi-ethnic heritages and showcasing pieces that profoundly influenced them both. Composer-arranger Joe Clark, whose music has been performed by Reneé Fleming, Yo-Yo Ma, and jazz singer Kurt Elling, among other classical, jazz, and pop artists, created arrangements expressly for Cabell and Cambridge’s distinctive voices.

The trio “Soave sia il vento” (May the wind be gentle) from the opera Così fan tutte finds the sisters and the philosopher Don Alfonso bidding farewell to Ferrando and Guglielmo in gently lilting rhythms and rapturously elongated phrases as the fiancés feign departing on a sea voyage. Alyson Cambridge and Nicole Cabell are joined here, in one of the most delightful trios you are likely encounter in any opera of this genre, by baritone Will Liverman. And the Lake Forest Symphony under Vladimir Kulenovic (a presence throughout the program) lends discretely unobtrusive but telling support to the lilting voices of the singers.
— Phil Muse, © 2018 Audio Video Club of Atlanta

Liquid Melancholy received a GRAMMY Award nomination for 2018 Best Engineered Classical Album.



Liquid Melancholy, featuring virtuoso clarinetist John Bruce Yeh of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, exudes a kaleidoscope of colors and moods while showering listeners with attractive melodies in a program of music by James M. Stephenson, one of America’s most popular and prolific present-day composers. The Boston Herald has praised Stephenson’s “straightforward, unabashedly beautiful sounds.” The Minnesota Star Tribune calls him “a composer of real talent.”

Receiving its world-premiere recording, the title track, Liquid Melancholy, is a concerto for clarinet and orchestra that explores the instrument’s fluid lyricism and vast tonal and expressive range. It also marks the commercial recording debut of the Lake Forest Symphony, an acclaimed Chicago-area professional orchestra whose music director, Vladimir Kulenovic, earned the 2015 Sir Georg Solti Conducting Award and was named that year’s “Chicagoan of the Year in Classical Music” by the Chicago Tribune.

John Bruce Yeh founded the Grammy Award-winning Chicago Pro Musica ensemble, members of which join him in two works. Colors, for the novel palette of clarinet, oboe, and string quartet, evokes an angry Red, bluesy Blue, rustic Green, and brilliant White. Scored for clarinet, piano, and strings, Stephenson’s whimsically named Last Chants channels ancient, exotic sounds of the Near East.

Intimate works for clarinet and piano include Étude Caprice, a literally breathtaking sprint for the clarinetist and a thrill for the listener. Fantasie is a lyrical extravaganza of waltzes, scherzos, and dances. Stephenson’s virtuosic four-movement Sonata for Clarinet and Piano is dedicated to Yeh, who gave its concert premiere.

James Stephenson continues to impress me as one of the major composers of our era, and surely this disc will confirm that impression in the minds of those who hear it. The artistry of John Bruce Yeh and pianist Patrick Godon, and that of the ensembles and their conductors resides on an extremely high plateau. I simply cannot conceive of better performances of any of these pieces.
— David DeBoor Canfield, © 2018 Fanfare