A Piano Concerto


A Clarinet Concerto
Originally commissioned and performed by The Lancaster Festival Orchestra

On CD Colloquy


An orchestral setting of four poems for Soprano and Baritone
(Also scored for four-hand, piano version)
Yes (James Joyce, Ulysses)
The Smile (William Blake)
Always (Harrison Smith Morris)
The Heart's Friend (A Shoshone Love Song)

On CD Colloquy


An Orchestral Work
Commissioned and performed by The Columbus Symphony
Gary Sheldon, Conductor


An Orchestral Chamber Work
The third movement of a triptych
Inspired by the poem by Edgar Allen Poe
World Premiere:
The Pit Stop Players
Good Sheperd-Faith Presbyterian Church, NYC
October 24, 2016
Watch Live Performance in VIDEOS


An Orchestral Chamber Work
The second movement of a triptych
Inspired by the poem by Edgar Allen Poe
World Premiere:
The Pit Stop Players
St. Stephen's Church, NYC
May 4, 2015
Watch Live Performance in VIDEOS


An Orchestral Chamber Work
The first movement of a triptych
Inspired by the poem by Edgar Allen Poe
World Premiere:
The Pit Stop Players
Dimenna Center for Classical Music, NYC
October 30, 2011
Watch Live Performance in VIDEOS


An Orchestral Chamber Work
Commissioned and performed by The Palisades Virtuosi
World Premiere:
George Frey Center for Arts and Recreation, NJ
October 2, 2015
Recorded on New American Masters Volume 6
Released by Albany Records May 2017


A Sonata for two Violins


A Sonata for Viola and Piano
Judith Lynn Stillman, piano, Judith Nelson, viola

On CD Colloquy


Settings of the poetry of the children of Terezin
For Female Child Soprano, Baritone and Chamber Orchestra
World Premiere:
Trinity Lutheran Seminary
Columbus, Ohio Cantor Jack Chomsky, featured soloist
November 9, 2014


A Chamber Concerto for French Horn
Premiered with The Pit Stop Players
Dimenna Center for Classical Music, May 2011


Commissioned and performed by Robert King


A Chamber Concerto for Arthur Weisberg


A Chamber Work for Accordion, Bassoon, Cello and Scat Vocalist
Commissioned by The American Accordionists Society


Flute, Clarinet and Bassoon Premiered Brooklyn College, broadcast by WQXR


For Soprano, Piano, Violin and Cello Poem by: Ross Yockey


For Baritone and Piano Poem by Lew Wall
Premiered at Columbia University, Miller Hall


An Opera based on a true story of the Nazi occupation of the Vilna Ghetto
Premiered at The Kosciushko Foundation, New York
Libretto: Robert Reinhold


An Opera
A diva loses her voice at the peak of her career
Performed by Joanna Simon at the Vineyard Theater, NYC
Libretto: Gerald Walker


An Operatic Fable
A bear travels to the big city on a mission to save the forest
Originally Commissioned by The Actor's Studio, NYC
Developed with Encompass New Opera Theatre
Nancy Rhodes, Director
Libretto: Herb Schapiro


A Ballet
Commissioned and performed by The Lancaster Music Festival
Gary Sheldon, Artistic Director
Choreographer: Melinda Baker
2007 Special Anniversary Performance
Lancaster Music Festival, July 22
2008 Performance
The Festival at Sandpoint, Idaho, August 10


An Orchestral work commissioned and performed by Tales and Scales


An a capella SATB work
On CD Colloquy


For Chamber Orchestra, Chorus and Cantor Soloist (in Hebrew)
Commissioned and first performed by Cantor Jack Chomsky at Congregation Tifereth Israel, Columbus, OH


A contemporary setting of the Traditional Jewish Friday Night Service
For Cantor solo, Chorus and Orchestra
Commissioned by Roger Stevens for The Kennedy Center


An Oratorio For Soloists, Chorus and Orchestra
Based on the Biblical Songs of Solomon
Commissioned and performed by Cantor Nate Lam
Stephen Wise Synagogue, Los Angeles, CA


Gary William Friedman impresses as a composer who has mastered his craft. His strong lyrical impulse is discernable even when he adopts an atonal approach, and his disciplined technique prohibits extraneous note spinning. My feeling is that he conceives an artistic premise and won’t rest until he’s achieved it. There are some traces of jazz and Broadway proficiency in this selection of his serious works—he’s had a successful career in both fields— but they don’t intrude in an obvious way. Instead, they’re heard in a certain suavity in song, an intimate knowledge of how to dramatize a text, and a way with extended chords and subtly shifting harmonies. For example, in Song of Moses his harmonic finesse colors what in other, more conservative hands would be a conventional liturgical setting with ear-opening combinations. Yet the overall effect is stimulating rather than aggressively iconoclastic. Combined with smooth voice leading the harmonic daring imparts a lustrous sheen that precludes formulaic blandness and theatrically highlights the text.

Passages is beautifully played by Ed Matthew, who poignantly characterizes each mood of this involving clarinet concerto, yet artfully blends the numerous episodes into a well-knit whole. He’s smoothly accompanied by the attentive orchestra, which is scored with precise sensitivity. Initially surrounded by atmospheric strings, harp and delicate piano accents, the vaguely “modernist” clarinet part builds toward a tender Romance (my term, not the composer’s) that has a lovely, lyrical waltz at its heart. This floats through the central section, varied skillfully with each recurrence. Reminding us that passages are not always smooth, an energetic hint of Klezmer music—ironically?—interrupts the flow: later, another “big” moment elaborates on the third of three linking cadenzas. Actually, only one of these is even slightly florid in the manner of a traditional cadenza: the others are gentle and not prolonged. Perhaps symbolically, Passages ends as it began, with a return of the opening material.

Although I prefer instrumental to vocal music, I found listening to the first of My Heart’s Friend’s four settings— the famous “Yes” soliloquy from Joyce’s Ulysses—a moving experience. The twining voices mirror Joyce’s innovative fusion of language and amorous feeling, and Sylvie Jensen deftly balances joyous anticipation and recollected bliss. The remaining three songs are equally well performed, but for whatever reason it was the first that made the strongest impression.

Colloquy, for piano and viola, may qualify as an atonal composition, but it avoids the disjunct melodic agonies that often disfigure music of this type. While you probably won’t whistle Colloquy’s themes in the shower, there is a moment in the second movement where one could say “the sun comes out and the clouds disperse.” I was tempted to write ‘gloom” instead of “clouds,” but that might be imposing too heavy a burden on the music. Turbulent climaxes erupt, but the mood is primarily reflective, with the instruments—excepting a prominent viola solo— closely bound throughout the conversation’s peaks and valleys.

Gary William Friedman’s music successfully combines accessibility with artistic integrity, lyricism with abstraction, and abundant heart with refined design. While I will revisit Passages most often, that doesn’t diminish my respect for the other works.
- Robert Schulslaper

Special for Fanfare Magazine Subscribers:
A feature/interview with Gary William Friedman in this issue.


"Gary William Friedman's Passages, with Ed Matthew on clarinet, is a romantic and startling piece. The slight hints of klezmer mixed with lush strings above momentary and dense discord is seemingly anachronistic, yet the serialist-like melody lines hold the work together. Atonality flourishes in both movements of Colloquy, for viola and piano. It has a romantic atmosphere similar to Passages and My Heart's friend. Friedman is a composer whose forays into musical theatre and liturgical works bleed into his "contemporary classical". It fails to hinder him and, instead, fleshes out his efforts, most notably in the vocal work My Heart's Friend."
Kraig Lamper


"Composer Gary William Friedman is a familiar presence in the American music scene, having garnered an OBIE award and TONY nomination with his score for The Me Nobody Knows as well as scoring a number of films. The young, and young-at-heart, will also treasure him for his long association with television’s The Electric Company, as music director. His work in the more serious, so-called “contemporary classical” idiom is less well known. Colloquy, Friedman’s intriguing new CD of orchestral and vocal offerings may go some distance in changing that.

The composer’s background in film and theatre is quite evident in the disc’s opening selection Passages, an 18-minute clarinet concerto originally set in 1993 and revised for this recording, here conducted by Gary Sheldon with the central instrument expressively wielded by Ed Matthew. There is a definite narrative quality to this dissonantly tuneful piece (the opening measures rather recall Humphrey Searle's evocative score for The Haunting, in fact), and an impressive palette of emotional coloring. The title’s etiology is left ambiguous in the liner notes, but what with the utilization of bits of klezmer one might glean that the piece affectively traces a Jewish life trajectory, incorporating as it does all the delightful humor those musical influences suggest into an overall fabric that is by turn vaguely unsettling or somewhat melancholy - and in the work’s concluding passages (pun intended) quite heartrending. It is a fascinating composition, possibly the most enjoyable of the lot here, and brings increased satisfaction with repeated listening.

Song of Moses, an a cappella choral work in two parts (their composition separated by some two decades) shows a similar affective awareness, fielding a developmental arc that progresses from the somber declamation of the initial writing to an exultant titular song, and the creative use of jazz influences boasted by the Amen with which the work resolves. Friedman's writing here is quite beautiful and is dispatched with great musicality by conductor Joshua Rosenblum and the vocal forces involved; one hopes this work finds the continued life in the contemporary choral repertoire it richly deserves.

The liner notes inform us that Colloquy, the sonata for viola and piano for which the CD takes its name is “unabashedly atonal” - an entirely accurate characterization, though one that perhaps minimizes the impact of some real lyricism glimmering throughout the piece. The sonata is deftly rendered by the New York Philharmonic’s Judith Nelson and pianist Judith Lynn Stillman.

The disc concludes with My Heart’s Friend, a setting of four poems for soprano (Silvie Jensen) and baritone (Dominic Inferrera). Originally scored for four-handed piano, the work has been re-imagined for a string orchestra, and is here led by Friedman himself. The singers skillfully achieve a notably mellifluous timbral blend in what is some quite challenging vocal writing and render the text, which traces the poetry of James Joyce, William Blake, Harrison Smith Morris and a concluding setting of a Shoshone love song, quite expressively...

...Any lover of serious contemporary music should be pleased with Friedman's disc; there is much here to delight the ear, and quite a bit to challenge the mind as well."
- Mark Thomas Ketterson