Ross Crean: The Great God Pan Ross Crean
- Ross Crean (?): The Great God Pan:
- The Great God Pan, Act I:
- 2The Discovery07:59
- 3The Reveal02:12
- 4The Dream, the Call, and the Lullaby07:01
- 6Twenty Years02:24
- 7A Story to Add to the Memoir05:25
- 8In the Garden03:05
- 9The Story Continues02:55
- 10Villiers' Parlor00:58
- 11Advice in Investments?02:42
- 12An Old Friend in Shambles04:42
- 13The Plot Thickens06:09
- The Great God Pan, Act II:
- 14A Stroll in London Fog02:23
- 15An Artist Meets His Maker05:18
- 16City of Nightmares05:28
- 17It Is Helen Vaughan!00:59
- 19Silent Too Long02:44
- 20The Confrontation and Ultimatum01:54
- 21Helen's Prophecy Before the Fall02:34
- 22The First Fragment02:48
- 23The Second Fragment03:34
- 24The Third Fragment05:18
Info for Ross Crean: The Great God Pan
Chicago-based composer Ross Crean’s opera The Great God Pan soars in this new release, the first collaboration between the composer and PARMA recordings. The Great God Pan takes its story from an eponymous 1890 novella by Welsh author Arthur Machen, which explores themes of scientific hubris, transcendental medicine, and unexplainable supernatural behavior. Impressively, Crean adapted Machen’s narrative into the work’s libretto himself, an ambitious and rare undertaking for a composer. Crean’s familiarity with the story shows through in the emotional resonance of his music, which matches and communicates the character’s concerns and feelings with unflinching precision.
The key to Crean’s musical portrayal of the story is twofold. First, beginning with the overture, much of the opera’s accompanimental music is defined by pulsing ostinato ideas. This characteristic is inviting to the listener and draws us into the musical world of Crean’s opera. More importantly, the relentless quality of these rhythms wordlessly establishes the ominous mixture of tension and mystery at the heart of The Great God Pan’s narrative. Second, Crean’s text setting is extremely clear, so the story is conveyed with crystal clarity in this recording.
Without giving too much away, the tale at the heart of The Great God Pan begins with a surgery gone wrong. The first character we meet, Dr. Raymond, has invited the opera’s protagonist, Clarke, to witness an important experiment based in elements of non-traditional, ancient rituals. Dr. Raymond sacrifices his wife Mary as the subject of his attempt to access a higher spiritual plane – referred to as, “seeing the Great God Pan” – and unwittingly initiates a serious of mysterious supernatural occurrences that Clarke encounters over the next few decades.
This recording represents a chamber version of Crean’s opera that includes a full cast of ten superb vocalists and a pair accompanying pianos. The piano parts yearn to be orchestrated, and, in many moments, the listener can easily imagine the lush mixture of brass, strings, woodwinds, and percussion Crean will employ once he has the opportunity to fully orchestrate the piece. With this said, the performance on this album never neither feels incomplete, nor does it ever lack any intensity it might enjoy in a full production. This owes to the excellent quality of the album’s vocal performances, and to Crean’s ingenuity in composing the accompanying piano parts with the sounds of strumming and plucking, which combine to make the music that much more vibrant.
“The Great God Pan” is a story that leads us between two worlds, the material and the supernatural. It is a story where the horror lies not in the open for us to see, but in what our minds create from the unseen.
“The female characters have no voice in Machen’s book, so I worked at giving them a voice (particularly the character of Helen), and in doing so, brought a new perspective to the story; is Helen the Antichrist figure our protagonists make her out to be, or is she truly the savior of mankind, bringing a new age of sexual freedom to our world?
“My goal in this project is to ask these questions about how far we think we have come in terms of gender equality and religious dogma since those Victorian days.”
Ideally, “The Great God Pan” would be done in a steampunk style, with live shadow puppetry. The shadow puppetry is important to the storyline, since it acts as another character, representing Pan/the Otherworld and attempting to vaguely show the audience the horrors that transpire, while keeping its mystery. (Ross Crean)
“When Ross Crean writes music it is not to casually entertain his listeners. No, instead he writes his music with a driven purpose of speaking from one heart to another. An attempt at communication that can be understood across the globe. His world is shaped by the reality before him, and he often uses music as his voice to speak out with questions regarding equality and social justice. When one hears his work, they hear stories accompanied by music that stirs you deep, undertones of humanity.” - Access Contemporary Music
Composing and creating music with a focus on the evocative and lyrical, Ross Crean began his professional music career as an operatic Bass-Baritone, specializing in avant-garde and Contemporary Classical music, many of which were his own works. A prolific collaborator, he has received commissions from and worked with numerous artists including internationally renowned mezzo-soprano Heidi Skok (formerly with the Metropolitan Opera), Oberlin College, Opera on Tap Chicago, and Loyola University Museum of Art.
A graduate of Illinois State University in Music Theory/Composition, he has studied with Stephen Taylor, David Feurzeig, and Nancy Van de Vate. He began training in several vocal styles in his teens, including rock, opera, sean-nós (traditional Gaelic singing), and Indian and Middle Eastern vocal ornamentation.
His emotionally-violent monodramas "Missa Dementia", "The Mysteries of Uncle Archibald", and "Xenophysius Obscura (The Stranger’s Nature in Darkness)“ brought the composer/performer much critical acclaim throughout Europe. In 2005, Crean founded his own record label, Knight & Thorne Music, and has performed worldwide as a solo artist. His musical work has been featured on Skope TV, Much Music, Fuse TV, and Comcast OnDemand. Ross was most recently signed to Navona Records/Naxos America to record his opera “The Great God Pan”, due out in Summer 2017. He is currently Resident Composer and Creative Director for Nebula Creatives, based in Chicago.
This album contains no booklet.