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The Cypress Grove

  • 0:00 No. 1. Song: Papageno: Papageno is My Name
  • 1:51 No. 2. Quartet: Papageno and the Three Ladies
    Love and Duty
  • 4:48 No. 3. Aria: Astro: A Man’s Duty
  • 8:45 No. 4. Recitative: Astro, Sarastro: I So Pledge
  • 11:13 No. 5. Fugue and Storm music
  • 14:40 No. 6. Magic Flute music
    No. 7. Funeral Service
  • 16:57 7a Funeral March
  • 18:51 7b Trio: The Three Ladies: Grief Overtakes Them
  • 20:06 7c Duet: Two Men in Armor: The Throne of Ra
  • 21:11 7d Chorus: Osiris Hear Our Prayer
  • 23:29 No. 8. Monodrama: The Queen of the Night
    I Will Have My Revenge
  • 26:26 No. 9. Aria:Pamina: Death Has Now Invaded Me
  • 30:24 No. 10. Aria: Saggio: My Son, Tamino Listen

The Cypress Grove – A One Act Prologue to The Magic Flute

Original Music and adaptations of Music of W.A. Mozart by Marshall Griffith

Libretto by Marshall Griffith and Anne Taslitz


Papageno, the bird-catcher for the Queen of the Night tries with limited success to catch birds and explains his life situation and hopes for the future. The Three Ladies come and indicate that Love and Duty are to be treasured. They give him a pan-pipe to aid in his bird-catching duties.

Astro sings of his love for family in their favorite place, the Cypress Grove, and then reveals to his daughter Pamina that he is gravely ill and will soon die. Astro’s impending death is greatly affecting his wife, The Queen of the Night.

Astro’s friend and colleague Sarastro discuss the plans for their temples of enlightenment. Astro has Sarastro pledge to take Pamina to the temple if The Queen shows signs of unbalanced behavior after his passing. They leave to inspect the progress of the temple’s construction. Music is heard representing the workmen constructing a temple.

A horrific storm occurs; lightning strikes and destroys the oldest tree in the Cypress Grove. Astro creates a magic flute from one of the fallen limbs.
The Queen and Pamina leave the Cypress Grove and while Astro is restoring order to the grove after the storm, he dies.

A funeral is held for Astro. The Three Ladies, the Two Men in Armor, and the Chorus sing about grief and wish him a safe journey to the next world. The Magistrate reads Astro’s will, and to the surprise of the Queen, the Solar Emblem of power is passed to Sarastro.

The Queen in an extended monologue reveals her anger at this decision and also remembers fondly her husband, Astro. She pledges her revenge on Sarastro. Without the Queen knowing, Sarastro has overheard her unbalanced rantings.
Pamina consoles her mother and the next day returns to the Cypress Grove and expresses grief over her father’s death.

Two of Sarastro’s men kidnap Pamina and in the struggle a small medallion from one of the kidnappers is dropped. The Queen rushes to the Cypress Grove to aid Pamina but fails: sees the medallion and reiterates her pledge of revenge against Sarastro.

The scene changes to a land far away from the Cypress Grove where Saggio discusses with his son Tamino the need for him to take a journey to further his education as a man. If someday he is to become a ruler, he must know himself better.

The Cypress Groves runs approximately 33 minutes in performance.


Papageno: A Bird-Catcher for the Queen of the Night
David Gilson

Three Ladies: Attendants of the Queen of the Night
Elizabeth Huff, Denise Green, Joanne Uniatowski

Astro: Husband of the Queen and ruler of his people
Eric Bower

The Queen of the Night: Wife of Astro
Anne Taslitz

Pamina: Daughter of Astro and the Queen of the Night
Chelsea Coyne

Sarastro: Astro’s best friend, Lord of the Temples
Mark Wanich

The Magic Flute
Linda White

Hannah and Sophie Gilson

Two Men in Armor: Followers of Astro
James Hilton, Eric Bower

The Magistrate The Kingdom’s Magistrate
William Martin

Saggio: Father of Tamino and ruler of his people
James Hilton

Tamino: A Prince and Son of Saggio
Loren Toplitz

Marshall Griffith

Notes from the composer:

The Magic Flute has been a source of interest of mine for over twenty years and will continue to be one. Much has been written about this opera and The Cypress Grove reflects many of the points of view of these writings. In most productions of The Magic Flute critical dialogue is often left out, leaving the listener confused about some of the plot details. The Cypress Grove highlights the details of those often-abandoned fragments to illuminate directly how characters interact and the back story of the plot of The Magic Flute.

Masonic elements that abound in The Magic Flute are included in The Cypress Grove as well. Mozart was a devoted Mason and Masonic thought permeates much of his music. The numbers three, (representing the masculine universe and the three levels of Masonry) five (representing the feminine ideal) and seven (the number of wisdom) are frequent. Mozart’s Magic Flute has a synthesis of these elements that culminate in the union of Tamino and Pamina.

The Cypress Grove was written over a very intense ten-day writing period in March of 2008.

Marshall Griffith (BM ’75, MM ‘77) has received awards from the Ohio Arts Council, the American Society of Composers and Publishers, and The Music Teachers National Association. His music has been played by numerous ensembles throughout the United States and is published by Theodore Presser and Belle Press. In addition to his compositional activities, he is one of Cleveland’s finest improvisational pianists and is heard frequently throughout Northeastern Ohio. He holds a Doctorate of Music degree from Indiana University and is on the faculty of The Cleveland Institute of Music.

Anne Taslitz has over twenty years of experience performing in and around Northeast Ohio. She has performed in dramas and musicals at a variety of theatres, including Cain Park, Porthouse Summer Theatre, The Jewish Community Center and Great Lakes Theatre Festival. She has a Master of Fine Arts degree in theater from Case Western Reserve University, has studied voice at Kent State University and The Cleveland Music School Settlement where she studied with Angela Alessandro, and as a young person, she was a member of Cleveland’s Singing Angels.

Three Latin Dances
Latin Dances was commissioned by Brian Sweigart, vibraphone and Benjamin Lulich, Bass Clarinet both Cleveland Institute of Music Alumni in 2004. Latin Dances is a three-movement composition: Samba-Sarabande-Tango. Each of the movements is very short and attempts to capture the essential rhythmic and stylistic characteristics of the dance. The virtuosic Samba and Tango are compose utilizing the Octatonic scale and the Sarabande, which emphasizes the melodic potential of the bass clarinet, utilizes Dorian mode.

Three Latin Dances – complete




Children’s Song

Children’s Song is a suite of movements on themes of childhood for Piano 4-hands. The work is “quotational” meaning it uses pre-existent works as well as original material. The music quoted ranges from Gregorian Chant to “Chopsticks”.

Pianist: Marshall Griffith and Jacqueline Buckley Platten

  • 0:00 The Overture
  • 1:40 The Doll
  • 5:43 Summer Games
  • 8:52 Lullaby
  • 11:05 The Piano Lesson

The Overture alternates between three independent ideas which occasionally combine: an Anglican hymn for the baptism of children, an original children’s march and a totally chromatic section which contrasts the other two.

The Doll movement is a simple three-part form with a Gregorian chant in the middle, framed by a delicate lace-like melody.

Summer Games is divided into three sections. In a pianistic game of Leap Frog, the hands of the pianists are constantly jumping over one another. In Tag, a musical game of Hide and Seek is played over an unrecognizable version of a puzzle canon by Bach. This frivolous action is interrupted by The Ice Cream Trucks. One truck plays the Overture theme, the other a Rossini favorite, humorously at the same time.

Lullaby is a very personal composition mostly because Brahms, who wrote the lullaby melody, is a favorite composer of mine. Also, the Tchaikovsky melody, from Swan Lake, which appears in the obbligato line later in the movement, was played regularly over the loudspeaker system of an Air Force base where I lived as a child. It is a simple movement, gradually slowing as the dream world replaces reality.

The Piano Lesson is a humorous fantasy on “Chopsticks” full; of what appear to be mistakes and unexpected events.

Jazz Impressions of Cleveland

  • 0:00 Sweet Lorain
  • 2:43 Bop Stop
  • 6:19 Lake Effect
  • 10:55 House of Blues
  • 13:25 Soldier’s Monument
  • 16:20 Summer Lake
  • 19:46 Woodland Revival
  • 23:42 Playhouse Cool
  • 26:50 CIMCO Blues
  • 30:59 West 6th at Midnight

Jazz Impressions of Cleveland (Inspired by and Dedicated to Dave Brubeck)

Sweet Lorain: Lorain, Ohio reflects the changing face of the American melding pot from first and second generation European immigrants blending now to a more Latino orientation. This piece alternates between Latin influenced sections and old fashioned swing music.

Bop Stop: This great night spot in Cleveland is a haven for jazz music and jazz musicians. On any evening, you can hear everything from avant-garde jazz to more traditional jazz forms

Lake Effect: We all dread this weather phenomenon, but despite its relentlessness, it can be beautiful.

House of Blues: This fairly new night spot in Cleveland can really rock and swing.

Soldier’s Monument: This monument needs no explanation, just our gratitude. This slow march ends with a fragment of When Jonny Comes Marching Home. I dedicate this movement to my father, George, who served his country during WWII, Korea and the Cold War.

Summer Lake: This movement tries to capture the lazy feeling of being at the beach and the ever-changing moods of the water.

Woodland Revival: One of my first “gigs” in Cleveland was playing for revival meetings held on Woodland Avenue. This piece was inspired by the dynamic forces present at those events.

Playhouse Cool: The Cleveland Playhouse and Playhouse Square are treasures. The piece is an overture to an imaginary theatre production.

CIMCO Blues: CIM is The Cleveland Institute of Music and CO is The Cleveland Orchestra. This movement is a fun series of quotes from well-known classical repertoire whose melodies have been altered and formatted into traditional 12- bar blues. The works quoted are: Bartok: Concerto for Orchestra, Brahms: Haydn Variations, Mozart: The Magic Flute, Wagner: Tristan and Isolde, Debussy: Afternoon of a Faun, Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto,

Mozart: Symphony #40 and Strauss, Till Eulenspiegel.

West 6th at Midnight: If you haven’t been downtown in a while, go to West 6thstreet some night. It is one hopping and busy place, as is this piece.

Marshall Griffith received a Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees in composition from CIM, as well as a Doctor of Music degree from Indiana University. He studied composition with Eugene O’Brien, Donald Erb and John Eaton, and was the recipient of The Music Teachers National Association Award in composition in 1976. His works have been published by Theodore Presser and Belle Press, and recorded on Crystal Records. He served as chairman of the Cleveland Composers Guild from 1991 until 1995. His music has been performed by the Baton Rouge Symphony, the Amici, Bel Arte and Coleridge String Quartets, the 20th Century Consort and the Black Earth Percussion Group. Active as a jazz and classical pianist, Dr. Griffith has also been soloist with the Canton Symphony, Ohio Chamber Orchestra, Cleveland Pops, Suburban Symphony, CIM Orchestra, CIM Woodwind Ensemble, Cleveland Youth Wind Symphony and the Case Jazz Band. He performed in a professional two-piano team, the Fine Arts Duo, from 1980 until 1990.

Joan Griffith is known in the Midwest as a teacher, performer and composer. She has toured and recorded extensively as a classical and jazz guitarist, a bassist and a mandolinist. Her 2008 jazz CD, “Sambanova” with pianist Laura Caviani and “Enter You, Enter Love,” with Lucia Newell feature many of her own compositions. Enter You, Enter Love” was chosen as one of the top ten best recordings for 1996 by KBEM. Her choral composition “Sweet Noel” won the 1998 Christmas Carol Contest co-sponsored by the American Composer’s Forum and the vocal group Vocalessence. Her performances on mandolin include the Minnesota Orchestra recording of Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde and as soloist with the South Dakota Symphony on their premiere recording “Journey to the Badlands”. She teaches jazz improvisation, guitar, bass and mandolin at the University of St. Thomas, the College of St. Catherine and Macalester College. She is also a roster artist in jazz for COMPAS, the Minnesota State Arts Board and Young Audiences.

Linda White leads an active musical life as both a teacher and performer. She is on the teaching faculty for The Cleveland Music School Settlement, The Cleveland Institute of Music Preparatory Department, and The Cleveland School of the Arts. Linda has performed with many of the regions orchestras and chamber groups, and particularly enjoys debuting new works of local composers. She came to Cleveland to study with Jeffrey Khaner, and received a Master of Music degree from The Cleveland Institute of Music.

Marc Better is a jazz bassist performing in Northeastern Ohio. He has performed with many Cleveland jazz artists such as Ernie Krivda, Bill DeAngelo.and also performs regularly with his brother, Don Better, guitarist and member of the CIM faculty.
He has studied with Larry Angel and Harry Barnoff of the Cleveland Orchestra and has been performing with pianist Marshall Griffith for ten years.

Talles – Complete performed by Marshall Griffith and Linda White.

Talles is the present subjective form of the Spanish word Tallar, which means to carve or fashion.  It is also an anagram for ALL SET. Each of the short pieces is fashioned from a musical set of 3-6 pitches which form the basis of the melody or harmony.  The fanciful titles have little to do wither abstract creation.

  • 0:00 Merry-Go-Round(0157)
  • 2:18 Chunky Bop(027)
  • 4:09 Second Shift(0247)
  • 6:52 Igor’s Blue Tango(0235)
  • 8:49 Sunshine In The Park(0237)
  • 10:37 Escher’s Steps(0126)
  • 12:26 Urban Life(024)
  • 13:52 The Knife Blues from Wozzeck(012479)
  • 16:11 Dark Circle(0135)
  • 17:59 November Hush (0137)
  • 20:24 Subway Vamp(025)
  • 22:18 Ladino Journey(0236)
  • 24:20 Remember October (0156)
  • 26:18 Last Call (012)


Refrain is a cycle of American Folk Songs with the song “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” acting as a refrain. These refrains operate as a variation set within the composition as a whole are and to reflect different wars in which America has been involved: The Civil War, World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War. Of particular interest is the Vietnam variation where the soprano soloist is to “sing slightly out of tune and imitate a popular folk singer of the 1970’s”. This variation is sung to the tune “When Johnny Comes Home” going backwards (retrograde).

Not all of the folk songs preserve their original text or tunes; for example, the words to one verse of Through All The World are sung to a modified version of an old hymn tune, “Old 100th” (Doxology) and “The little old sod shanty” is whistled, not sung. The singers are asked to whisper, speak, clap their hands, act up, whistle and even play harmonica in what I hope to be an enjoyable celebration of the rich tapestry in the American folk tradition.

Laurel Buehler, soprano
Doff Proctor, Baritone
Joseph Baldasarre, guitar
Greg Geisert, percussion

  • 0:00 When Johnny Comes Marching Home
  • 1:48 Shenandoah
  • 4:53 Through All The World
  • 8:23 When Johnny Comes Marching Home
  • 9:13 Froggie
  • 11:41 When Johnny Comes Marching Home
  • 14:07 Wondrous Love
  • 15:48 When Johnny Comes Marching Home
  • 18:00 Hoe Down
  • 19:57 When Johnny Comes Marching Home

Temple Originals – Complete performed by Marshall Griffith and Kathryn Wolf Sebo.

Compositions for a Reform Jewish Service

I have been involved with various Churches and Temples throughout the Greater Cleveland Area for many years and am currently The Director of Music for The Temple Tifereth-Israel in Beachwood, Ohio.

The audio track on this site has six originals in various modern styles for traditional components of the service. This is a studio recording with Cantor Kathryn Wolfe Sebo.


Shabbat Shalom

Shalom Rav

Oseh Shalom

Yis M’chu

Ein Keilocheinu


Mi Chamocha – A live recording with opera soprano and Cantor, Rebecca Carmi.

Portraits of the West – complete (Dedicated to Linda White)


Winter Cornfield – Seeing the low stubble of a cornfield in winter creates a sense of hope. These stubborn reminders of what were once full of life simultaneously bring to mind the future arrival of spring.


Windmill on the Prairie – These often-solitary generators of energy and life creak and sway to an ever-changing wind. This movement captures the sense of the wind slowly getting the windmill up to full speed.


Mirror Lake – The beautiful sight of a still lake at the bottom of a mountain casting the reverse image of that mountain is a common sight throughout the west. The music in this movement uses reverse images as well. When one voice goes up the other goes down and the form of the movement is a palindrome.


Moose Sighting – It is a special delight to see these enormous creatures in the wild and this movement’s inspiration is a slow-moving carefree “bluesy” moose.


Mountain Ascent – Either hiking or riding in a car the ascent up to the top of a mountain peak is exhilarating. In this movement, the music climbs up and up but reaches little plateaus as it goes along and when the summit is reached, the vistas are breathtaking.


Big Sky Samba – The sky is bigger out west and this fun and fast-moving movement tries to capture that feeling you get outdoors after being east of the Missouri too long.


Devil’s Tune – The remarkable natural rock formation known as Devil’s Tower in Wyoming has been the source for many fantastic stories. The Devil in music is often portrayed by the musical interval of a tritone which appears frequently in the melody of this movement.


Oh Willa – This movement is dedicated to the authoress Willa Cather whose novels about the western pioneers are truly inspirational. There is a sense of awe, beauty, and fear expressed in those stories of frontier life on the prairie, particularly Nebraska, and this movement tries to capture all those feelings in music that she so beautifully put into words.


Cowboy Blues – This blues journey begins and ends with an original cowboy song but has a fun time with Red River Valley, Buffalo Gals, Home on the Range, The Streets of Laredo and Ragtime Cowboy Joe.


Border Ghost Town – These abandoned centers of a forgotten life echo with many tales of the Old West. This movement’s imaginary ghost town is on the border of New Mexico and Arizona and starts with a wispy ghost-like introduction followed by music with a south-of-the-border feel.