Composer Mark Abel's New "Dream Gallery" a Clever Exploration of California Archetypes

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From San Diego and LA to Berkeley and Arcata, the true Golden State comes to life through seven stories sung by concert vocalists, combining classical, rock and jazz

Dream Gallery album cover

Carol, for instance, performed by mezzo soprano Delaney Gibson, sings about her superficial life in San Diego as wife of a road rager and mother of Connor and Morgan, who text while she totes them from place to place in her black Cadillac SUV.

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Think California and what comes to mind? For many, it's Hollywood, sunshine, plastic surgery and a breakfast of granola and nonfat milk. Seeking to dispel the California myth of homogeneity through song, San Diego composer Mark Abel created newly released The Dream Gallery: Seven California Portraits, featuring seven soloists who sing about their archetypal California lives in different regions, from south to north, bringing to light lesser known aspects of the Golden State and the people who reside there. The CD is available for $11.97 and by digital download for $9.99 on CD Baby and iTunes. Visit Mark Abel's website for more details and to preview the music.

"Driven out of town by regular occurrences of cabin fever, I've traveled extensively through California and I'm constantly surprised by what I find both topographically and psychographically," said Abel. "Many people from other areas of the U.S. have the notion that California is all glitz, glamour and faux tans, but the regions vary so drastically. Southern California alone is like another state; I think people living in this region will even be surprised by what they hear."

The product of an intense year-and-a-half of work, The Dream Gallery features archetypes from San Diego, Los Angeles, Berkeley, Richmond, Soledad, Taft and Arcata. Carol, for instance, performed by mezzo soprano Delaney Gibson, sings about her superficial life in San Diego as wife of a road rager and mother of Connor and Morgan, who text while she totes them from place to place in her black Cadillac SUV. Compare that to Lonnie, performed by noted gospel singer and bass Carver Cossey, who woefully sings about life in Richmond, California: Chemicals lingering in the air -- intense poverty, violence and drugs. Some of these artists have contributed to Abel's past CDs. Each presents a story that, when combined, yields a more complete picture of life in California.

While Abel's music is lyrically rich, it is also musically complex. Well-known symphony conductor Jung-Ho Pak likens it to Sondheim and Schwarz. Abel, however, created it with the intention of transcending genre, unconventionally drawing as much from the classical art song of Debussy as the pop/folk/rock elements of music by such pivotal figures as Joni Mitchell, Brian Wilson and John Phillips.

"As I began writing this work, I noted how often rock musicians sprinkle elements of classical into their pieces and that pop songs sometimes allude to jazz," Abel said. "But to incorporate each type of music authentically in a song - I couldn't find an example of that in the mainstream or in the independent world."

Media and bloggers, please note: Mark Abel and the musical artists featured on The Dream Gallery: Seven California Portraits are available for interview. Please contact Brook Larios to coordinate, for a copy of the CD and press kit for review or to receive media access to the online press room, which contains a digital press kit and high-res album art and photos of the composer.

About Mark Abel
Mark Abel is a composer out of Carlsbad in northern San Diego County and son of Elie Abel, the revered journalist who contributed to the New York Times's Pulitzer Prize winning coverage of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. Like his father, Mark turned to journalism, working as chief foreign editor for the San Francisco Chronicle for many years while, after work and on weekends, he feverishly composed music. Composition is now his livelihood; his other two albums can be classified as alternative classical and include Journey Long, Journey Far(2008) and Songs of Life, Love and Death (2006).

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