Begun in 2003 with concerts in Massachusetts and the U.S. Virgin Islands, The Shakespeare Concerts presents recitals of music inspired by the immortal bard: from original English text settings to settings in translation; by composers from the classical period to the 21st century. The organization has presented the music of many American composers throughout the United States, as well as the Czech Republic, the People’s Republic of China, and in 2018: South Korea. The mainstay of the series is the music of Joseph Summer, with premieres of two dozen of his works; settings, primarily, of text by William Shakespeare.
In addition to concert performances, The Shakespeare Concerts is engaged in a long term project recording Shakespearean music. Several prominent professional recording companies distribute the musical products of The Shakespeare Concerts: Albany Records, Centaur, and Parma. The Shakespeare Concerts has released six recordings in a series published by Navona, “Joseph Summer’s The Shakespeare Concerts,” one of which (“The Fair Ophelia”) received a Grammy nomination. The Shakespeare Concerts’ recordings are also distributed throughout the world by Naxos.
Previously released Recordings include
- The Tempest (“has something unique to say…(Summer’s) musical language is comfortably tonal but sophisticated, ceaselessly inventive, and often gripping; he’s a vivid musical storyteller. It’s an embarrassment of riches – the marvelous group numbers keep coming, culminating in the penultimate scene which builds to a blazingly celebratory climax… It’s gorgeous.” -Opera News)
- Full Fathom Five (”I’ll go so far as to say, mindful that one must never declare ‘genius’ too easily, that the more I experience Joseph Summer’s art, the more I am inclined to apply the term” -Fanfare Magazine)
- Orpheus With His Lute Made Trees (“glowing performances… radiant…” -American Record Guide)
- The Fair Ophelia, (“A remarkable recording that contributes to the literary praise of William Shakespeare” -Sonograma Magazine)
- Shakespeare’s Memory (“21st-century world of kaleidoscopic influences like a beautifully transformed Schubert” -Gramaphone)
- The Garden of Forking Paths, a string quartet by Joseph Summer, based on short stories by Jorge Luis Borges (“This passionate music invites you to dance and makes you feel you cannot refuse. It propels all who hear it into Summer’s and Borges’s fantastic world.” -Fanfare Magazine)
- So Many Journeys (“nothing short of spectacular” -American Record Guide)
- Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day, (“beautifully expressive and deeply emotional” -American Record Guide)
- What a Piece of Work Is Man, our first release, showcasing eleven of Summer’s Oxford Songs including three Hamlet soliloquies
- No Enemy But Winter and Rough Weather (“a rarefied production” -Infodad)
- Much Ado about Nothing, the eleventh recording by The Shakespeare Concerts, featuring the world premiere of a string quartet by Erich Korngold.