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Learn about Dashon Burton, bass-baritone in the world premiere recording of Smyth’s The Prison

Dashon Burton is the bass-baritone soloist, along with soprano Sarah Bailey, in Experiential Orchestra's world premiere recording of The Prison, a 60-minute masterwork and the only symphony by English composer Dame Ethel Smyth (1858-1944). Experiential Orchestra's music director James Blachly conducts the piece, which is set for release on Chandos Records on August 7th.

Dashon Burton's role in The Prison

Dashon Burton is a world-renowned bass-baritone whose voice will be at the center of this recording. In The Prison, the bass-baritone soloist sings the role of "The Prisoner," while the soprano soloist sings the role of "The Soul."

The instrumentation and use of two soloists would seem to be a nod to the Brahms Requiem, as Smyth was known to be devoted to Brahms's music. But the music itself reveals many influences, including Wagner, Smyth's teacher Heinrich von Herzogenberg, and Strauss, with "Straussian" melodies for the soprano and bass-baritone that soar over rich harmonies in the orchestra. The text that Burton, Bailey, and the chorus sing is about a man in a solitary cell and his reflections on his past life and his preparations for death, which is drawn from a philosophical work by one of Smyth's closest friends and longtime collaborator, Henry Bennet Brewster.

Burton says about the project, "This piece is an immortal dedication to those who fight for freedom. Working with James, Sarah, and all the amazing musicians on this album has been a dream, and I hope it awakens all our spirits as much as it has awakened mine."

Dashon Burton's extraordinary career

Dashon Burton has established a world-wide career in opera, recital, and in many works with orchestra. He is a frequent guest with the major orchestras of the United States, Europe, and Japan. Here are some examples of those performances!

Boston Baroque — Handel's "Jephtha" with bass-baritone Dashon Burton

The Trumpet Shall Sound - The Messiah - Music in the Somerset Hills

Burton sings recitals throughout the U.S., including a program based on works from his album Songs and Struggles of Redemption: We Shall Overcome, singled out by The New York Times as “profoundly moving…a beautiful and lovable disc.” Listen to the album below!

Burton is also an original member of the Grammy-winning vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth. Here is one of their live performances.

Roomful Of Teeth: NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert


Experiential Orchestra's world premiere recording of Dame Ethel Smyth's The Prison is set for release on Chandos Records on August 7. Subscribe to Experiential Orchestra's mailing list to enter to win a copy:

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