Program Notes

And the Day After I Die

Choral Music by James Forte

... feelings of the poet - fervor of the mystic ...


Spanning the composer’s compositional career, these choruses lie at the heart of his art. Ranging from average performance difficulty to very difficult, they show off the performers’ art as well as the deep artistic message of the composer. A direct continuation and expansion of the madrigal tradition, the strong contrapuntal style mixes seamlessly with dramatic and chordal elements. From lyrically poetic to dramatic, from deeply felt religious expression to the mystical, they offer a picture of the artist’s life journey. Starting with the Madrigals and continuing with the individual choruses, the question of death is explored from many heartfelt perspectives culminating with the affirmation of Divine Love. These choruses are wedded to the words, being direct expressions of the texts.


The poem Blow Winds is soaked in the natural imagery and sounds of the sea and shore. Poet Walt Whitman spent much of his time on the shores of Long Island in New York, and the composer, spending much time on the shores of Cape Cod, a geologically similar terrain, found a natural kinship with the imagery of the poem. The poem raises the image of inexorable time and the loss of love, with deep pondering of death and its meaning. The individual choruses continue the album’s theme, concluding with the choruses Out of Love and The Hour Love Was Killed using the drama of the Passion of Christ.


The album title, And the Day After I Die, is taken from the title of one of the Madrigals. Written before the phrase “New Age” in its current use came into being, Madrigals for a New Age was meant as music for a new era of poetic expression, exploration and inspiration.


About the performers


If we wish to use the phrase “superb musicians and artists,” we must apply it not only to the conductors, Luba Ivanova Pesheva and Valeri Vatchev, but also to the chorus and the vocal soloists and instrumentalists. Their high training and superb musicianship are expertly guided by the conductors, with Luba Ivanova Pesheva, the chorus’s conductor, preparing the chorus to perfection.



Bulgarian National Philharmonic Choir “Svetoslav Obretenov”

Named after its founder, the composer Svetoslav Obretenov, the chorus was established in 1944. The rich voices, deeply expressive musicianship, and thrilling performances of the chorus have earned it a high reputation throughout Europe with its many concerts in France, Great Britain, Italy, Belgium, Austria, Czech, Slovak, Germany, Poland, Romania, Hungary, Switzerland, Denmark, Spain, and Holland and many other countries, from Russia to Greece, Japan, Canada, Israel, Egypt, and Turkey.



The soloists are outstanding performers drawn from Bulgaria.

Valentina Hristova, soprano

choral soloists:

Nina Krasteva, soprano

Feodor Katranov, tenor


Stanimir Baleev, vibraphone

Ivo Lulchev, doublebass

Borislav Simeonov, doublebass

Kristian Kosev, doublebass




Hall Bulgaria in Sofia, Bulgaria is justly admired as an ideal concert hall. Designed by the architect Stancho Belkovsky, it first opened on October 9, 1937. It has seen an endless stream of superb artists giving deeply admired and appreciated concerts. The hall took a brief hiatus as a victim of WW II bombing, only, phoenix-like, to be rebuilt in 1949 to continue its noble tradition.




Luba Ivanova Pesheva


Luba Ivanova Pesheva’s superb choral performances have thrilled audiences throughout Europe. Conducting the Bulgarian National Philharmonic Choir “Svetoslav Obretenov” since 1983, and presently the principal conductor of the chorus, she has performed at home and abroad in Denmark, Holland, Germany, France, Greece and Russia, and has recorded with Bulgarian National Radio, Radio Bremen, and others. She has also prepared choruses for productions of operas by Bellini, Verdi, Puccini, Mussorgsky, and Shostakovich in France, Holland, Spain, Germany and Egypt. She has worked with the conductors Michel Plasson, Emanuel Krivine, Zubin Mehta, Mstislav Rostropovich, Guenadiy Rojdestvensky, and Maurizio and Antonio Arena. A graduate of the Academy of Music in Sofia, Bulgaria, she has won awards at international chorus competitions in Bulgaria, Great Britain, and Italy. She is a lecturer and Associate Professor of Choral Conducting at the Academy of Music, Sofia.


Valerie Vatchev


Valeri Vatchev is the principal conductor of the State Philharmonic Orchestra, Vratza, Bulgaria; the Amadeus Symphony Orchestra, Sofia, Bulgaria; and the Philharmonia Bulgarica, Sofia, Bulgaria. He has conducted numerous other orchestras, including the K. Pendereki Symphony Orchestra, the Bulgarian National Radio Symphony Orchestra, the State Philharmonica Orchestra, Varna, Bulgaria, and the Romanian National Philharmonic Orchestra “G. Enescu”. He has made concert tours throughout Europe and Russia and overseas to the United States and South Korea. Music director of the festivals, The National Contemporary Music Annual Festival, the Youth Musical Forum, and Botev Days, he has also conducted opera productions including Turandot and Boris Godunov, and the ballets Swan Lake and The Nutcracker. He has done numerous recordings, as well as radio and TV broadcasts, and is the recipient of many honors and awards.



Reviews and Comments


Responses to: And The Day After I Die, choral music by James Forte WFR0213CD

Bulgarian National Philharmonic Choir "Svetoslav Obretenov" with Luba Ivanova Pesheva and Valeri Vatchev, conductors


LISTENERS: Overwhelming ... Magnificent ... Beautiful ... We were just overwhelmed! ... The musicians were very good! ... Lovely ... I loved the CD ... a great pleasure and very moving ... a fresh and wonderful experience ... WOW ... They are completely amazing ... all very beautiful! ... The new CD is beautiful ...Enjoying your music ... such beautiful music ... The music touches our hearts and our souls ... such spiritual and “noble” music ...

RADIO PROGRAM HOSTS: Listened to it yesterday afternoon and it is SUPER! The choral pieces are really outstanding and I'll airplay it next month. It is one of the best vocal albums I listened in years. Magnificent recording.




From one of the conductors who was also the recording project director:

I'm very glad, that our work receive so good responses. For sure one of the most important reason was your spiritual and poetic music. I would like to wish you big success, many positive reviews from your /and our/ listeners, and other meeting with your music.

With best wishes, Valeri


From the Romanian poet, Ioan Rusu:

It is really something that I named [call] " ART ". Your name is known in Romania. Your CD was presented at radio in Ploiesti [and other stations]





And The Day After I Die


It seems that each new body of work by James Forte reflects an expansion and growth of his compositional talent. So it is with his newest offering, And The Day After I Die. Here are madrigals like those of the Renaissance, but expanded to 21st Century standards, thoughts and affirmations. As in his last several albums (a prolific composer is he) Mr. Forte has gone to Europe for some superb performers, in this case the Bulgarian National Philharmonic Choir "Svetoslav Obretenov" with Luba Ivanova Pesheva and Valeri Vatchev as conductors. The results are highly expressive, dramatic harmonies that serve to uplift the listener with melodies that talk to the soul. There are eleven compositions in And The Day After I Die ranging from five minutes in length to a half minute. Each is a reflection of an American talent whose range in international in scope. Both the music and the lyrics spoke to this reviewer with love and insight. For instance, track 4, "We Meet But To Part" includes, "We meet but to part/ life soon passes/ and is gone/ oh life is soon gone/ oh could we but find that love/ which never ends.../.And The Day After I Die is a sweeping declaration of life, passion and musical art. I’ve never met James Forte, but I know his humanity through his compositions (see my other reviews). Here is an album that soothes the soul and paints an expressive picture of divine love. Richard Fuller Senior Editor METAPHYSICAL REVIEWS October, 2003






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