“I know all about Czech musical talent,” says Robert DeCormier
American conductor, arranger and producer Robert DeCormier conducted the Czech National Symphony Orchestra and supervised the recording of sessions that will accompany music of the folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary. The CNSO’s participation in this session was significant and historical as this was the group’s last recording as a trio.
American conductor, arranger and producer Robert DeCormier conducted the Czech National Symphony Orchestra and supervised the recording of sessions that will accompany music of the folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary. The CNSO’s participation in this session was significant and historical as this was the group’s last recording as a trio. Last week, Mary Travers succumbed to leukemia after a long battle with the disease that prevented her from participating in the trio’s last tour.
“They were totally unique and original,” said Robert DeCormier. “I met them in their very beginnings and have continued to intensively work with them over the past 20 years. I caught their comeback, which continued until last week.”
According to DeCormier, Peter, Paul and Mary were sort of a revelation, even though they rarely worked with their own repertoire, as is common with folk musicians. They gave songs an unparalleled fragility and a kind of ‘line-drawing’ simplicity that was most pronounced in their versions of songs by Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger.
“Today, there are a lot of singers who really can’t sing but are, more or less, technically equipped to do so. Somehow, remotely, they feel the music and express their feelings,” continued the 87 year old DeCormier. “The result is flat, boring and without any esprit. If discovered today, Peter, Paul and Mary would probably fail, as they were estranged to the ‘crush of celebrity’ which today is louder than the music.”
He talked about the recording, “We were trying to emphasize their beautiful interpretations by adding the symphony orchestra and choir. It is a little experiment. But, without Mary, it is one that won’t go on.”
Robert DeCormier is an American musical conductor, arranger, and director. He has arranged music for many groups and singers, including Harry Belafonte. He has written several works ranging from chorals to ballets to Broadway scores. His cantata, The Jolly Beggars, based on the poetry of Robert Burns, premiered in New York to critical acclaim. His ballet score Rainbow ’Round My Shoulder’ is in the active repertoire of the Alvin Ailey Dance Company. The choral works Legacy, Four Sonnets to Orpheus, Shout For Joy and Under the Greenwood Tree were premiered at Carnegie Hall by the New York Choral Society. Spiritual Suite, commissioned by the West Village Chorale, premiered in New York in 1991.
A recording of John Dowland’s music Awake, Sweet Love, with Julianne Baird and the DeCormier Singers, was released by Arabesque in 1992. Noel We Sing with the Choral Society was a Musical Heritage release in 1994. Recent Arabesque releases include, Oh, You Beautiful Doll, early 20th. century popular American songs, Children, Go Where I send Thee, international Christmas songs, and two operas from the Terezin concentration camp in the Czech Republic.
The Jolly Beggars, DeCormier’s settings of Robert Burns’s poetry was released by Arabesque in May 1998. Mr. DeCormier’s television credits include a three-part series of Choral Folk Songs for the BBC and an Emmy award winning special with Harry Belafonte.
“I know all about Czech musical talent”, says DeCormier, “and I have been satisfied once again here in Prague. The cooperation was fantastic.”
The new recording should be released before Christmas and, no doubt, will be dedicated to Mary Travers.