About the album

The Conference of the Birds

Jonathan Sheffer’s The Conference of the Birds is presented on this new release from Navona Records. Two versions of the work are recorded here: the first, with narrator Joyce DiDonato, and the second, without narrator. Performing this work is the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Jonathan Sheffer.

Enjoy previews via SoundCloud and YouTube.

Depicting 12th-century Persian poet Farid ud-Din Attar’s dramatic narrative, New York-based composer and GRAMMY-nominated conductor Jonathan Sheffer presents his orchestral work The Conference of Birds, commissioned for the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, on Navona Records. Attars poem of the same name is a journey of transformation and conviction, in which the birds of the world seek to find an illustrious leader, ultimately ending with new insight into their spiritual identities. The allegory portrays our own doubts, fears, and faults, how we confront these issues, and how we seek to understand identity and our relationships with other humans, the natural world, and what lies beyond. Masterfully performed by the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Sheffer himself, the music illustrates several events in the poem: the Hoopoe’s assembly of the birds, with their uncontrolled chatter; the birds individual arguments, revealed in a series of refusals to embark on the spiritual journey; the difficulties of the journey itself; the final arrival at the Simorghs court; and the transcending conclusion to their quest.

Reviews

“The Conference of the Birds” is a delicious naturalistic work composed by Jonathan Sheffer and narrated by the renowned American soprano Joyce DiDonato) . . . The Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by the composer and recorded on June 2015, in the Reduta Hall in Olomouc (a theater in 1770) of the Czech Republic, is a very original work, a beautiful story narrated by the great American soprano Joyce DiDonato.

The extraordinary voice of Joyce DiDonato, supply known in the opera world, is at the service of a narrative text. Its expression takes many records that the work gets a dimension quite attractive . . .

Joyce DiDonato explains, with her wonderful voice, we’re like birds around the world in search of a leader that reinforces a new spiritual identity. There are all human fears; the message is clear: we need to think about the world, no doubt, and think about nature (the composer uses a conference of birds), because it can give us many solutions. A highly recommended album!”

Marçal Borotau –  Sonograma

“On the CD there is a pure orchestral version as well as a version with spoken text which remains very close to the musical sequence. And Sheffer could hardly have won a better artist for this role than the mezzosopranist Joyce DiDonato. She has a lot of charisma, can negotiate her voice well and gives the narrative a quality of superb chanting.”

{Auf der CD gibt es eine reine Orchesterfassung sowie eine Fassung mit gesprochenem Text, der sehr nahe am musikalischen Ablauf bleibt. Und Sheffer hätte kaum einen besseren Künstler für diese Rolle gewinnen können als die Mezzosopranistin Joyce DiDonato. Sie hat sehr viel Charisma, kann ihre Stimme gut verhandeln und gibt der Erzählung eine Qualität von superbem Sprechgesang.}

Remy Franck – Pizzicato.lu

Album info

Release date: April 8, 2016
Number of Discs: 2
Format: Studio
Label: Navona
ASIN: B01CUUF4EO

18 hours ago

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19 May

Molt ben!! https://t.co/DPgapaYJYt

19 May

So happy you enjoyed it, Marc! https://t.co/WFhpvpkKcR

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TONIGHT we bring our #Agrippina to the @liceu_opera_barcelona for 3.75 hours of scheming da capos!! No puc esperar!!!! #elpoderabsolutcorrompeabsolutament #totiaixíaquestsrecitatius #diversíoperversa Photo: Javier Del Real @ilpdo

Close up of the print on my Agrippina Dress! I found the silk in #Shanghai and knew it was for this aspiring, conquering Handelian Roman!!! #dragonsandbuildingsandsilkohmy #abdolutepowercorruptsABSOLUTELY #norestforthewicked #rulersareyoutakingnote??

Last night I had the great, wicked joy of debuting the role of Agrippina with my beloved Il "Pomo d'Oro" orchestra and a wonderful cast. It’s going to be great fun getting to know her more and more ... not a moral fiber to be found in her!!!! Reminds me of a few people presently in power, no?? #absolutepowercorruptsABSOLUTELY #motheroftheyear #wheresmythrone #whatdoesagirlhavetodotogetacrown #thoserecitsthough 📸: @catecool

When I first flirted with the idea of taking on #Agrippina, it was asked of me, “But you do know she’s quite wicked, right?” Oh yes. I know. A new tour begins NOW with an extraordinary cast and my beloved partners Il Pomo d’oro with Maxim Emelyanychev at the helm. Between our limited 5-city tour, we are RECORDING!! • Handel: AGRIPPINA Luxembourg City • Madrid • Barcelona • Paris • London Il "Pomo d'Oro" orchestra @ilpdo @maxim_emelyanychev, harpsichord/director • Joyce DiDonato - Agrippina @LucaPisaroni - Claudio @elsabenoitsoprano - Poppea @xaviersabata - Ottone / Giunone Franco Fagioli- Nerone @andrewmastroni - Pallante @carlo.vistoli - Narciso Biagio Pizzuti - Lesbo • #BacktoHandel #Wicked #absolutepowercorruptsabsolutely #ihavealwaysbraggedabouthowmuchiloverecitative #timetoputmymoneywheremymouthis #HIGHDRAMA #handel @philharmonie_lux @teatro_real @liceu_opera_barcelona @theatre_champs_elysees @barbicancentre @askonasholt STYLING: @vitatzykun PHOTO: @chrissingerme

“I left my heart ... in Windy Chi-Town...” Aside from the glorious music making with the astonishing, treasured @chicagosymphony, it was this day at the Warrenville Juvenile Detention Center that stole my heart. I applaud the CSO and Maestro Muti for their commitment to bring their music to these beautiful kids, and I was deeply honored to sing for them. Seeing tears come to their eyes as they experienced Mozart first hand was simply life-affirming. As the beautiful girl in the yellow shirt told me afterwards as tears spilled from her eyes, “I don’t know what happened to me, but it feels like all of the anguish I’ve ever felt in my life came pouring out of that music.” Let’s not EVER underestimate the need for human connection in these kids’ lives. In a broken system and an often broken world, music and the arts are a bonafide, VITAL part of healing. How can you help? Photos: @toddrphoto

Can you #HANDEL the #glamour? You know you can’t!!! 🤓 Hotel room studying, people. It’s real, it’s thrilling, and it’s my most favorite thing everrrrrrrrrrrrr. [srcsm] #sheisNOTplayingaround #anythingforthethrone #andstillshepersisted #couldthereBEmorerecitative? #no #notherecouldnot #justtakethethronealready #GOTagrippinastyle #absolutepowerblahblah #historySUREDOESrepeat #andstill ... #thisroleisEPIC

Getting my Cléopâtre on! What a JOY to be back on stage with the singular @chicagosymphony making extraordinary music together. I’m so glad to be here.

I am thrilled to remain in the gorgeous world of Berlioz a while longer and look forward to singing his poignant cantata La Mort de Cléopâtre with the brilliant Chicago Symphony Orchestra​ and Maestro Riccardo Muti​ this week! May 2, 4 & 7: Orchestra Hall May 3: Wheaton College​ @chicagosymphony @riccardomutimusic Photo: Chris Sweda / Chicago Tribune

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There will always be more freedom to acquire and more truth to uncover.

~ Joyce DiDonato