Buy it Online

The Hawthorn Tree


American composer William Bolcom (b1938) created "The Hawthorn Tree" to help celebrate the 40th anniversary of mezzo-soprano Joyce Castle's singing career. He used the texts from 7 American and English poets to create songs well suited to Ms. Castle's fabulous voice. World premiere recording.


7 Tracks – Total Time: 18:26

Joyce Castle is accompanied by the St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble Orchestra

Reviewing the October 2010 world premiere performance of American composer William Bolcom’s The Hawthorn Tree, which was commissioned in honor of Joyce Castle’s 40th anniversary as a performer, Opera News reported “Castle is a musician and actor of the highest quality: her ability to convey a thought and its exact opposite at the same time make her delivery of a song compelling and immediate. Singing from memory, she demonstrated a deep connection to the atmosphere, character and emotion of each text, without ever appearing to deliver a planned reading.”  

Album Notes by Composer William Bolcom

Complete Lyrics (Poems)

About William Bolcom – Composer

Album Credits


Joyce Castle – Mezzo-Soprano

Joyce Castle - Mezzo-Soprano​An extraordinarily versatile artist, American mezzo-soprano Joyce Castle has left an indelible imprint on works by composers ranging from Bernstein to Wagner. Critics worldwide have recognized her unique combination of a “richly nuanced voice, profound dramatic skills and a superb sense of musicianship.”

Her remarkable career has spanned twenty-five years as a leading artist at the New York City Opera, fourteen seasons at the Metropolitan Opera, and includes countless appearances in prestigious opera houses and concert venues across America and abroad. An advocate for the music of our time, Joyce Castle been privileged to collaborate with leading composers in the creation of new works for the operatic stage and concert hall. The range of her contemporary opera house achievements is exceptional; from the poignant Old Lady in Michael Torke and A.R. Gurney’s Strawberry Fields to Stephen Sondheim’s daffy Mrs. Lovett in the first opera house performances of Sweeney Todd, which was directed by Hal Prince. She created the role of Nazimova in the world premieres of Dominick Argento’s The Dream of Valentino and performed leading roles in American and New York premieres by composers: Penderecki, Ruder, Sallinen, Von Einem, Weir, Weisgall and Zimmerman, among others. For these nuanced characterizations, she has garnered praise as “a compelling actress in both comedy and pathos.”

Devoting the same attention to the interior landscape of chamber repertoire that she does to the emotional workings of an operatic role, the mezzo-soprano enjoyed memorable collaborations with Leonard Bernstein and Michael Tilson-Thomas in the first performance of Bernstein’s Arias and Barcarolles, and with Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer in the world premiere and recording of Statuesque; the cycle which was commissioned for her by the University of Kansas. Reviewing the world premiere of William Bolcom’s The Hawthorn Tree, which was commissioned in honor of Joyce Castle’s 40th anniversary as a performer, Opera News reported “Castle is a musician and actor of the highest quality: her ability to convey a thought and its exact opposite at the same time make her delivery of a song compelling and immediate. Singing from memory, she demonstrated a deep connection to the atmosphere, character and emotion of each text, without ever appearing to deliver a planned reading.” 

The Hawthorn Tree joins Flesh and Stone, the Songs of Jake Heggie on the Americus label. She may also be heard on the Cedille Records recording of Menotti’s The Medium (title role) and the Newport Classics recording of The Consul (Mother). Her Grammy® Award-winning recording of Candide (Old Lady), is available on New World Records and her recording of Sondheim (singing Send in the Clowns and Sweeney Todd selections) is on Book-of-the-Month records. Michael Torke and A.R. Gurney’s opera Strawberry Fields was recorded with Miss Castle in performance with the Albany Symphony and released on the Ecstatic Records label. The production was also seen on a PBS telecast from Glimmerglass Opera. The Koch recording of The Music of Stefan Wolpe and the Albany Records album of the Vocal Music of Joseph Fennimore round out her chamber music discography.

For more information on Joyce Castle, please visit: www.joycecastle.com

Photograph of Ms. Castle by Carol Rosegg (www.carolrosegg.com)