Scott Solak composer
Jonathan David Little composer
Helen Mackinnon composer
L Peter Deutsch composer
Juli Nunlist composer
Daniel Morse composer
Peter Greve composer
Whitman Brown composer
VOICES OF EARTH AND AIR VOL II presents the best that modern choral compositions have to offer. Settings of traditional prayers are mingled with ethereal stories and otherworldly visions, and each of the eight compositions both stand unique and work together harmoniously to create a collection that nods to the future of choral music.
Scott Solak’s Ave Maria starts off the collection. Richly tonal and resonant, the piece is written in memory of the composer’s mother, a second generation Polish Catholic. Ave Maria is followed by Jonathan Little’s Crucifixus, another rich, vibrant work that presents modern interpretations of historic performance techniques and fills space with an all-encompassing listening experience. Helen MacKinnon’s Gloria in Excelsis Deo demonstrates various moods throughout the piece, from tender to fiery and triumphant, all culminating in a glorious “Amen” to close the piece.
The album then shifts to L Peter Deutsch’s A Fisherman of the Inland Sea. With jagged intervals and interesting harmonies, and text by famed fantasy author Ursula K. LeGuin, the choir and a single narrator retell the melancholy story of a young fisherman’s loss resulting from a tryst in a magical underwater kingdom. Following this story is Juli Nunlist’s posthumously released Spells, an eerie, dissonant choral work that uses subtle recurrences to create an enveloping form. Daniel Morse’s Nachtlied is an otherworldly soundscape that uses the writings of Austrian Expressionist poet Georg Trakl. Creating a sense of ritual, the otherworldliness is amplified by the use of electronic sounds created through manipulating pre-existing audio.
Peter Greve’s invocation for organ and mixed choir, Give Us Peace, is made up of four expressions of peace from four religious traditions. It follows a narrative arc of joy within communities, followed by violence and destruction, and finally a reconciliation and expression of peace between four different ideas. The album concludes with Whitman Brown’s Psalm 23, a final return to sacred texts that creates a powerful bookend to the collection. Reverent and soothing, it gives a sense of conclusion to the journey of VOICES OF EARTH AND AIR VOL II.