Alla Borzova is a Belarus born composer who moved to the US in 1993 and holds a doctorate from the Moscow Conservatory and additional work at the City University of New York with David Del Tredici. Much of her music has its emotional and stylistic roots in the folk music, legends and poetry of her native land. These works, here, also show a wholly refreshing blend of some American compositional approaches with some clear ties to her upbringing in Belarus. "Songs for Lada" is a very engaging and large work for young soprano, folk contralto, children's chorus, native instruments (such as cimbalon, dudka and bagpipe) and orchestra. Lada, of the title, is Borzova's young daughter and there is clearly a love within this music for Lada, for Belarus musical traditions and for the composer's new home. The texts and sonorities of choice are highly creative. Each of the five movements to this ebullient cantata is based on a children's rhyme, game, dance or folk tale. The first, Ladu-Ladu-Ladki is a child's rhyme about birds, A Game with `Poppy' is based on a game in which a child symbolizes a new poppy flower, the boisterous third movement, Once a Father Had Three Sons, uses a folk instrument ensemble to represent the antics of the three sons - all named Vasil. The fourth movement is the most lyrical, sometimes mysterious, heart of the work. Entitled Once Bai Walked Across the Wall, it tells the tale of a gnome seeking refuge and rest in the human world. The work concludes with the big, celebratory Shine, Shine, the Sun! wherein children seem able to communicate with nature; in particular, birds. Borzova's orchestration includes various "weather" effects, bird calls of various artificial origin as well as recorded actual bird calls. The forces at work here are wonderful and authentic to the tone and intent of the cantata. The Detroit Symphony sounds wonderful as does the Michigan State Children's Chorus. Valentina Fleer is a wonderful soprano with a suitably clear, lovely and non-mannered timbre and the folk singer Valentina Kozak (Parhomenko) is known throughout Belarus and, now, the US for her work with The Kozak Family Trio. Her voice frequently "comments" about the story and has a wonderful "bedtime story" feel to it that enhances the effect. This is a truly engaging and enjoyable work! "To the New World" is a sort of programmatic tone poem in which the orchestra reflects the countries of origin of the passengers on an imaginary ship. In addition to some very creative effects emulating the sounds of a ship about to embark, there are musical motives and sections that pay homage to immigrants from Germany, Israel, Ireland, Africa, China and Latin America. The music seems to carry the passengers and the listener across the waters until we "arrive" at America and the various ethnic sonorities kind of dissolve - chaotically at first - into a bit of American jazz. This is another very fine work that carries a message and the "program" is clear but without ever becoming cliché. Borzova is a very interesting composer whose work I would like to know better. There is a CD of her chamber music "Pink and Blue" on Albany worth checking out. Leonard Slatkin is a masterful conductor with a decades long dedication to new American composers and introducing their music. Slatkin also has a very discrete palate. Every composer and every new piece he has introduced is of high quality and audience accessible. He has brought the highest level of quality of performance to each orchestra under his leadership; now the venerable Detroit Symphony. I have admired his work tremendously over the years and here is another reason to do so!