CD105 Sounding Joy
Sacred Music from the Last Decades of the 20th Century
American Repertory Singers
All of the music on this disc was written
in the last two decades of the 20th century, and all of it has been
published since 1994. It is a representative sampling of some of
the best of America's choral composers who have written music for
the Christian churches of all liturgical persuasions.
Gwyneth Walker - Sounding Joy
Ronald Arnatt - Steal Away to Jesus
Richard DeLong - O Lord, Increase Our Faith There is a Country
Daron Hagen - Little Prayers
Fred Gramann - Still, Still with Thee
Leo Nestor - And Peace at the Last
Leo Nestor - To Rise Beyond the Stars
Leo Nestor - Who Is She Ascends So High?
Frank Ferko - I Was Glad When They Said
Frank Ferko - I Will Give Thanks to You, O Lord
Frank Ferko - O Gracious Light ("Phos hilaron")
Daniel Pinkham - A Sermon on Wisdom
Jane Marshall - Of Hospitality
Jane Marshall - Song of Simeon
John Carter - When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
Douglas Major - Festival Te Deum
And Peace at the Last by Leo Nestor
This is a fine sampling of the
repertoire. All the arrangements are first-rate, and I was especially
taken with Daron Aric Hagen’s Little Prayers.
The American Repertory Singers are excellent—sensitive and
well-controlled—but without any of the prissiness that can
afflict British choral singing. Leo Nestor’s own music is
included, and he seems as fine a composer as he is a choral conductor.
--The American Record Guide, Nov/Dec ‘97
Nestor’s ensemble displays
remarkable intonation through vowel unification throughout...Sounding
Joy. ...the album’s namesake is stunning. Gwyneth
Walker composed an updated version of the Justin Morgan nineteenth-century
tune set to text from Psalm 95. The blend here is excellent, and
the superb balance compliments the fugal nature of the piece.
In Little Prayers, Daron Aric Hagen’s technique
is reminiscent of Persichetti or Stravinsky. As a group the five
prayers are perhaps the least melodic pieces on the recording
but are nonetheless beautiful and would compliment any sacred
choral program. Nestor’s use of dynamic contrast to illustrate
Hagen’s text painting is exquisite. A Sermon on
Wisdom, by Daniel Pinkham, is treated reverently by the
choir. I encourage all to examine the recording not only for the
overall quality of sound but also for the excellent selections
--Vernon E. Huff, Choral Journal, February ‘98
Among the professional services offered to the choral music industry by the American Repertory Singers is the recording of scores to accompany the distribution of publishers' new issues. Over the past two years, the American Repertory Singers have been involved in six such projects, and this disc contains the best contemporary sacred music from those recordings. All of them were taped direct to digital master at St. Patrick's Church in downtown Washington D.C., a room resplendent with tasteful, beautiful art and sumptuous acoustic produced by the very high vaulting.
The room also features a wonderful pipe organ more than suitable for both liturgical and concert purposes, a versatile instrument recently built by the Lively-Fulcher Organ Builders behind the beautifully stenciled Victorian facade of the orginal organ case. Normally, commercial CD projects by the American Repertory Singers use 20 to 24 or more singers, but these "utilitarian" tracks for publishers' new issues usually use 12 singers. One track here (No.21) used 16 singers. And, normally, one hour of recorded music time is usually recorded in two very efficient 3-hour sessons with as few retakes as possible. Such is the skill of these singers and their director that the tracks included on this CD were deemed by the producer to be both viable and varied for commercial release, a watermark of fin de siecle American sacred composition.
Along with the excellent acoustical setting of this lovely and busy urban church come other artifacts determined by its location. City transit buses used to run (loudly) by the front of the church; a pizza supply truck occasionally idled across the street while supplying the shop within "Woodie's" (the recently closed Woodward & Lothrop department store); tour busses from the nearby convention center sometimes congregate in the neighborhood; and certain weather patterns route departing Washington National Airport traffic directly overhead. 11 o'clock was quitting time on some days because of the heavy disco "thump" emanating from a club around the corner. But, no matter; only the most sharp-eared will hear bits of these at various times.
All of the music on this disc was written in the last two decades of the 20th century, and all of it has been published since 1994. It is a representative sampling of some of the best of America's choral composers who have written music for the Christian churches of all liturgical persuasions. The American Repertory Singers and their director, Leo Nestor, obviously revel in performing this very new music and are delighted to share it on this recording.