Album Release - Jacob Dalager | Paradigms
Trumpeter Jacob Dalager’s new release Paradigms explores the music of international composer Anthony Plog, who lives and works in Freiburg, Germany. Dalager is joined by his colleagues Daniel Aune, organ, Lauren Giest, soprano, Gregory Scott Stuart, narrator, and Joseph Yungen, piano. Although this project was initially halted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Dalager’s cohort of colleagues came together and proceeded to record with careful Covid precautions in order to make this album come to life.
The story behind Paradigms by Jacob Dalager:
The gestation period for Paradigms was very long. I first heard about Tony when my classmate at St. Olaf College, Micah Wilkinson, went to study with him in Freiburg, Germany before going on to his Master's degree at ASU. My understanding was that this was a formative experience for Micah; so I pursued doing the same after my Bachelor's degree but ended up deciding to spend a year volunteering in Malaysia instead. While I was at Eastman School of Music, I performed Anthony Plog's Concerto No. 2 at the National Trumpet Competition and at my Master's recital in 2012 and fell in love with his style of writing. It's unconventional and dissonant, yet still tonal; it's virtuosic and challenging, but playable; and he balances expressive freedom and driving, machine-like rhythms.
Headshot - Anthony Plog - www.anthonyplog.com
From that point forward, I envisioned recording an album of Plog's music and started digging deeper into his catalogue and collecting his compositions. The next Plog piece I performed was his "Scherzo" at the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, NY in 2015. That summer, I was fortunate to meet up with Tony for a few days at his home in Freiburg while I was playing at the AIMS Festival in Graz, Austria. He was a great teacher, mentor, and we developed a quick friendship. As a trumpeter and composer myself, I admire his success in both areas of music and aspire to do the same.
For my 2020 D.M.A. lecture recital, I performed and discussed two of Tony's pieces for trumpet and organ, 4 Themes on Paintings of Edward Munch and Jocaan Trio. I used my music theory background to dissect his compositions and developed a deeper appreciation for his approach to color and counterpoint. By this time, I had collected a long list of pieces of Plog's that I was interested in recording. After a few reading sessions with Joseph Yungen, I narrowed it down to a list of pieces that had not yet been commercially recorded but nonetheless were very deserving of the public's attention. Like with most composers (even Mozart and Beethoven), musicians tend to play the same handful of hits over and over again, but I wanted to give some of Plog's lesser-known yet brilliant compositions more exposure.
The COVID-19 pandemic derailed the recording project initially. But after a few months of getting used to social distancing, masking, and frequent hand washing, I contacted my collaborators once again and all were willing to move forward with the project despite the risks. We recorded in late January and early February 2021, and knocked it out in two days. Organist Daniel Aune, pianist Joseph Yungen, soprano Lauren Cook, and narrator Gregory Scott Stuart all gave stunning performances and were a pleasure to work with. Neil Brown from Arts Laureate and Tōnsehen recorded and produced the sessions, and along with Mackenzie LaMont and Natalie Groom assisting, they made the process really painless and enjoyable.
I hope everyone enjoys Paradigms. Although it is all music by one composer, I think there is truly something for everyone on it -- virtuosic showpieces like 3 Miniatures and Postcards; dark, emotionally riveting pieces like 2 Scenes; a humorous children's piece, Animal Ditties II; and dreamy ballads like Nocturne. And with the variety of instrumentation across the album, the texture and color is ever-changing. It's been a long-awaited dream come true for me to finally put this project together, and I hope it does justice to Plog's wonderful writing.