Meraki is a chamber ensemble co-founded by former classmates, Anastasia Christofakis, clarinet, and Elizabeth G. Hill, piano. They are recipients of Chamber Music America’s 2018 Classical Commissioning Grant for their current collaboration with award-winning composer, Jerod Tate. The ensemble is dedicated to awakening cultural compassion through music. Meraki’s recurring focus is the music of “Essence” which evokes the culture and history of people through their folk sound and musical language.
Anastasia Christofakis enjoys an active career as a soloist, chamber musician, and educator. Her musical collaborations have led to performances at the International Clarinet Association’s ClarinetFest in Ostend, Belgium, the Florida State University Festival of New Music, as well as at the Berklee College of Music. Anastasia is the recipient of several awards, most recently an artist residency through the National Parks Arts Foundation as well as a Montgomery County Artists and Scholars Award. She was granted the Presser Foundation Music Award for her project on Armenian music, where she studied and conducted research in Armenia on both traditional and contemporary music. Anastasia is currently on the faculty at Furman University. She received her Doctor of Music degree in Clarinet Performance at Florida State University, her Master’s degree from Roosevelt University, and Bachelor’s degree in Music from James Madison University. Anastasia is a Royal Global Performing Artist.
A recognized leader in contemporary music advocacy, pianist Elizabeth G. Hill has performed across the US and Europe in service of her life’s work: joining cultures together through music. In addition to her role as co-founder of Meraki, Elizabeth is also the pianist for Balance Campaign, a chamber group whose focus lies exclusively on commissioning and performing works by underrepresented composers. She currently serves as the Collaborative Pianist for the National Philharmonic Chorale and Chamber Series. Also an active pedagogue Elizabeth is a private piano teacher in the Washington, DC area, and is a member of the Collaborative Piano Faculty at the Heifetz International Music Institute. Originally raised in Anchorage, Alaska, Elizabeth holds degrees from Mary Baldwin College (B.A.), James Madison University (M.M.), and The Catholic University of America (D.M.A. with a specialization in Chamber Music).
For Track 7, "No Progress Without Loss, every new beginning ...", the speakers are Blake Buehler, Alexis Burson, Chandler Klotz, Caitlin Roberson, Rachel Shealy, Miranda Thomas, and Adib Young.
Audio Recording Engineer: Martin Aigner Recorded at: Furman University, Daniel Recital Hall
The commission of “Heloha Okchamali” was made possible by the Chamber Music America Classical Commissioning Program, with generous funding provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Anastasia Christofakis is supported in part by funding from the Furman University Research and Professional Growth Grant.
Elizabeth G. Hill is supported in part by funding from the Montgomery County Government and the Arts & Humanities Council of Montgomery County.
Preface from the composer: “Wanting to work with lullaby as a genre and an inspirational source, I immediately used the Meraki Clarinet and Piano Duo Consortium to take advantage of the various colors of both instruments, thinking about how to incorporate them in the context of pieces built upon the lullaby idea. The resulting work is a journey around the world in 6 short works that, in some way or another, pay respect to the original source lullaby, but deviate from the original to create concert pieces that function cohesively. One of the most fascinating aspects of composing this work was the research process; I was exposed to quite a number of lullabies from around the world and exposed to cultural problems associated with globalizing these magnificent tunes. While I could not use all of the songs I found and loved in this work, I hope to use this research to create future lullaby works for various instruments. The selection of lullabies for this collection was primarily made because of deep, personal connections to the countries from where the lullabies are derived. Thusly, this work is also a rather intimate examination of my own life in relation to traveling experiences, living experiences, and cultural connections. My deepest gratitude to Elizabeth Hill and Anastasia Christofakis of Meraki for working diligently on the consortium, as well as the interpretation of this piece.” - Anthony R. Green
No Progress Without Loss, every new beginning… by Jamie ‘Wind’ Whitmarsh
Whitmarsh, an Oklahoma native, describes this piece as “the music of nostalgia, the music of nature within the confines of an expanding nation.” Throughout the piece, the performers, and audience, are asked to ponder and voice their hopes, dreams, and fears.
Heloha Okchamali (Blue Thunder) by Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate
Preface from the composer: “Heloha Okchamali (Blue Thunder) is a work composed about my son, Heloha, which means Thunder in the Chickasaw language. His favorite color is blue (okchamali). This is my first work composed about a specific person and the vision of the work came to me while watching Heloha at a playground in the summer of 2018. Starting with the third movement, the title and concept come from the fun I have calling Heloha my little trickster. He constantly imitates the speed of Catboy from PJ Masks and Flash from DC Comics, and loves pretending to be a superhero. The second movement is a very nostalgic expression of our precious sleep time and features Chickasaw melodies I sing to him as he rests. The first movement is the fun I had attaching Marvel characters to his constant adventures in life and also contains traditional songs I sing to him. Super Cat Speed!” - Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate
Meraki - μεράκι [may-rah-kee]: "The soul, creativity, or love put into something; the essence of yourself that you put into your work." New works for clarinet and piano by Anthony R. Green, Jamie Wind Whitmarsh, and Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate.