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Volume 24, Number 8 — August 2017

Local Composer Scott Gendel featured with cellist Yo-Yo Ma on AIDS benefit album organized by Sing For Hope

December 01, 2014

On World AIDS Day 2014, Dec. 1, an all-star cast came together on one album to sing for hope, in support of cure-focused HIV/AIDS research. With new songs by established and emerging American composers, "An AIDS Quilt Songbook: Sing For Hope" provides a global musical portrait of AIDS today, spanning a range of perspectives and illuminating our interconnectedness in the changing face of the disease. The album features Southwest Virginia composer Scott Gendel's song "At Last," performed by soprano and Sing For Hope co-founder Camille Zamora and renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma, with Gendel playing piano. "At Last" is a setting of poetry by Kentucky writer / farmer / activist Wendell Berry, which takes on new meaning and significance in the context of AIDS.

In keeping with Sing for Hope's ethos of volunteerism, all artists involved donated their time and talent so that 100 percent of proceeds from the sale of this album will go to amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research.

Sing For Hope traces its roots to the AIDS crisis. When the promising young tenor Frank Logan passed away at Houstons Omega House AIDS Hospice, a group of friends came together to sing for life, for hope, for a cure, says Zamora. Sing for Hope Co-Founder Monica Yunus says, "As students at Juilliard, we continued to envision a go-to resource for arts volunteerism, uniting artists and communities in transformative ways. This album embodies that spirit."

"Music is the perfect medium for reflecting on the tragic losses caused by HIV/AIDS, but also for rallying the community to find a cure," says amfAR CEO Kevin Robert Frost. "HIV/AIDS research is finally taking center stage as were closer than ever before to identifying a cure. This album showcases our collective resilience as well as hope in the final act against HIV/AIDS."

The album, co-produced by Sing for Hope and GPR Records and distributed by Naxos worldwide, is available for purchase via iTunes, Amazon, retail stores, gift shops and other locations in the U.S. and Canada.

Initially inspired by the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, the AIDS Quilt Songbook was conceived by HIV-positive baritone William Parker (1943-1993) as the classical music world's first organized response to the AIDS crisis. In Parker's words, "For singers, we were being pretty unvocal about AIDS." In 1992 he gathered a group of prominent musicians at the Lincoln Center to premiere a collection of new songs about AIDS, designed to be ever-expanding until a cure is found.

Today, 1.6 million people die of AIDS worldwide each year, and the disease has largely passed from public consciousness in the U.S. The album, "An AIDS QUILT SONGBOOK: Sing for Hope," speaks to HIV/AIDS today, with songs about activism and antiretrovirals, love and loss, and the hope for a cure.

Gendel is a freelance composer and arranger, as well as a vocal coach and accompanist for singers and opera companies. In 2006, he won first prize in the ASCAP / Lotte Lehmann Foundation Song Cycle Competition. His music has been programmed by The Art Song Project, New Music New York, The New York Singing Teachers Association, soprano Claudia Waite, the 6060 Project and other groups. He was the winner of the 2012 Vanguard Premieres Choral Composition Contest. His "Sound and Fury" for mixed-age boy choir and instrumental ensemble was eatured at the 2014 Aberdeen International Youth Festival in Aberdeen, Scotland,

More information about Gendel can be found at www.scottgendel.com.