“Greek mythology tells us that Apollo set out from the island of Delos every morning with his lyre in hand, bringing light, music and healing to the world. We at Delos share the awareness that our world needs the balm of music.” – Amelia S. Haygood, Delos Founder (1919-2007)
“Delos is the David that will remain standing after Goliath has fallen,” remarked the President of the nationwide Music Personnel Conference during the association’s opening ceremonies in 2001 — a fitting homage to the joyous and indomitable spirit of Delos founder Amelia Haygood. In his tribute to Amelia after her death in 2007, James Jolly of Gramophone wrote: “Her zeal and desire for excellence created a label with a strong personality that not only attracted a host of major performers but which also gained plaudits for its technical excellence.” (John Eargle, Delos’s Director of Recording, won a Grammy in 2001 for Sound Engineering.)
Amelia was a pioneer at heart, and that pioneering spirit characterized the major developments at Delos for over three decades. In a letter she wrote at the time of Delos’ 30th Anniversary, she reminisced about “running around the country with my LP-size briefcase, hand-carrying samples of our first releases to new friends and acquaintances in press, radio and retail. Some said I was foolish; some said I was brave. But most everyone was interested in the idea of a label formed to give outstanding American artists an international platform.”
Through the next decades she provided a platform for some of the most honored names in classical music, and kept Delos at the forefront of new sound technology. In 1979 Delos became a leader in digital recording when Amelia got together with another pioneer, scientist/inventor Thomas Stockham and his prototype Soundstream Digital Recorder. Participating in these history-making digital recordings were (among others) Gerard Schwarz, the New York and Los Angeles Chamber Orchestras, David Shifrin, Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra, Arleen Auger, Janos Starker, and Susann McDonald. In those early digital years I became guardian to a noble Bösendorfer Imperial Concert Grand, which sang into the microphone for us over many years to come.
Recording guru John Eargle, who wrote the bibles on sound recording, joined the team as Delos’ Director of Recording and beloved mentor to Delos’ younger engineers until his death in 2007.
Delos has often been called the Great American Label, and not only because of Amelia Haygood’s mission to give American artists an international platform. In the mid-1980s, Amelia began her pioneering efforts on behalf of American composers, first with Boston’s Musica Viva, and soon followed by the celebrated series with Gerard Schwarz, the Seattle Symphony and the New York Chamber Symphony. These recordings received Grammy nominations for the artists, the engineer, and the label, and helped to reawaken American interest in its own classical music.
This important series continued with James DePreist and the Oregon Symphony, and with Andrew Litton and the Dallas Symphony, featuring a number of recordings of music from American composers. The OSO and DSO series were the first to be recorded with John Eargle’s much-praised “Virtual Reality Recording” surround sound. One of the recordings on the distinguished Delos series showcasing Zdenek Macal and the New Jersey Symphony won John the Grammy for sound engineering.
Delos’ highly-praised choral series ranges from Roger Wagner’s last recording to Dennis Keene’s Billboard charting Voices of Ascension. Our outstanding guitar series began with Pater Familias Celedonio Romero, and continues with the remarkable 8-string guitarist Paul Galbraith, the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, the Brazilian Guitar Quartet, Angel Romero, Italian guitarist Emanuele Segre, and most recently, Greek guitarist Smaro Gregoriadou. Among many other well-known names appearing on Delos are clarinetist David Shifrin, the Shanghai Quartet, The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, thereminist Clara Rockmore, flutists Jean-Pierre Rampal, Eugenia Zukerman and Joshua Smith; pianists Nadia Reisenberg, John Browning and Andrew von Oeyen; violinists Dmitri Kogan and Sasha Rozhdestvensky; cellists Janos Starker, Zuill Bailey and Emanuel Gruber; plus singers Arleen Auger, Renée Fleming, Hei-Kyung Hong, Sondra Radvanovsky and Dmitri Hvorostovsky.
In 1998, American pianist/conductor Constantine Orbelian came into our lives; and again, one pioneer recognized another. The first American ever to become music director of a Russian ensemble, Constantine brought us together with like-minded artists who became part of our extended family; among them the famed Moscow Chamber Orchestra, Philharmonia of Russia, Spiritual Revival Choir of Russia, Olga Guryakova, Marina Domashenko, Federico Mondelci, Raffaele Trevisani, and the great Ewa Podles. The international opera community’s star baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky, who joined our roster in 2001, dedicated his aria album Heroes and Villains to Amelia – whose original mission of championing worthy American artists now extends to the finest Russian musicians.
Amelia and I both considered Delos “Family Classics” to be among our most important ongoing projects; and the Baby Needs recordings received worldwide recognition as the finest series ever produced for the very young. Perchance to Dream, a Lullaby Album for Children and Adults, was the precursor in this series, and in Amelia’s words “was welcomed for every human situation, beginning with the pre-natal. Parents found that it had a remarkably positive effect on infant behavior. We are gratified that the calming effect of this CD has provided solace to the very ill in hospital and hospice. Our aim with the entire Baby Needs series is to call parents’ attention to the enrichment potential of such music for the very young. It has brought comfort and beauty to all ages; and parents comment that they are experiencing great music along with their children, having missed the opportunity themselves in schools that had cut out music programs.”
As we celebrate the milestone of our 40th anniversary in 2013, we look to the future with optimism and excitement. Our distribution partnership with Naxos extends our marketing reach and taps into the world’s most efficient music distribution system, while maintaining Delos’ uniquely “strong personality” among independent labels. New Delos website developments, as well as our expanded blogging and podcast efforts, will keep you informed about our artists and recordings, and make it ever easier for you to interact with us and explore the riches of our catalog.
We at Delos remain ever true – both artistically and technologically – to Amelia Haygood’s singular spirit and philosophy. We are committed to bringing you the very finest performances, captured with splendid sound quality. And we remain ever on the lookout for fresh and eclectic approaches – not only to established classics but also to stimulating new musical fusions and pioneering crossover efforts. I invite you to follow us closely on our journey into the future; I can promise you a fascinating — and rewarding — ride!