Celestial Voices

Sacred Choral Works

Richard E Brown composer
Denice Rippentrop composer
John Partridge composer
Christopher J. Hoh composer
William Copper composer
Ferdinando DeSena composer

Release Date: March 1, 2024
Catalog #: NV6600
Format: Digital
21st Century
Vocal Music

Ethereal, uplifting, and deeply impactful throughout. The works on CELESTIAL VOICES check these boxes and more. Featuring sacred choral works from several contemporary composers, this offering from Navona Records is a musical exploration into the divine that’s ready to be experienced in both stereo and Dolby Atmos immersive audio formats.

Modern harmonies and rhythmic freedom, new settings of famous hymns, fragments of plainchant that highlight contemporary topics, and more are expressed with clarity and spirit by The Kühn Choir of Prague in this release, who are joined by supportive instrumentalists at various points in the program.


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Track Listing & Credits

# Title Composer Performer
01 Kyrie Eleison Richard E Brown The Kühn Choir of Prague | Lenka Navrátilová, choirmaster 4:54
02 Nunc Dimittis Richard E Brown The Kühn Choir of Prague | Lenka Navrátilová, choirmaster 4:46
03 Yahweh! Denice Rippentrop The Kühn Choir of Prague | Lenka Navrátilová, choirmaster; UNI Quartet | Andrea Burianová, Jan Petřík, Mikoláš Čech, Karel Urban; Ondřej Štajnochr, double bass; Kristýna Fílová, solo soprano 5:50
04 Dies Irae for the Children of Ukraine John Partridge The Kühn Choir of Prague | Lenka Navrátilová, choirmaster 2:22
05 Three Latin Prayers: I. Angele Dei Christopher J. Hoh The Kühn Choir of Prague | Lenka Navrátilová, choirmaster 2:59
06 Three Latin Prayers: II. Agimus Tibi Gratias Christopher J. Hoh The Kühn Choir of Prague | Lenka Navrátilová, choirmaster 3:29
07 Three Latin Prayers: III. Dona Nobis Pacem Christopher J. Hoh The Kühn Choir of Prague | Lenka Navrátilová, choirmaster 2:17
08 Ave Regina Caelorum William Copper The Kühn Choir of Prague | Lenka Navrátilová, choirmaster 4:29
09 Stabat Mater William Copper The Kühn Choir of Prague | Lenka Navrátilová, choirmaster; Marcel Javorček, piano 8:06
10 Hark What Means Those Holy Voices John Partridge The Kühn Choir of Prague | Lenka Navrátilová, choirmaster 3:32
11 Three Psalms Ferdinando DeSena The Kühn Choir of Prague | Lenka Navrátilová, choirmaster; Marcel Javorček, piano; UNI Quartet | Anna Burianová, Jan Petřík, Mikoláš Čech, Karel Urban 13:33

Recorded September 16, 2019, June 5, July 26-27, August 29-30 & September 7, 25-26, 2023 at The Chapel at Korunni in Prague, Czech Republic
Recording Session Producer Jan Košulič
Recording Session Engineer Aleš Dvořák
Recording Session Assistant Engineers Jana Jelínková (Track 8), Adam Janků (Track 11)
Recording Sessions Director Levi Brown (Track 8)

Editing Jan Košulič (Tracks 1, 3-11)
Additional Editing & Mixing Melanie Montgomery (Tracks 1, 3-11)
Editing & Mixing Melanie Montgomery (Track 2)
Editing & Mixing Jan Košulič (Track 8)

Stereo Mastering, Atmos Mixing & Mastering Brad Michel

Executive Producer Bob Lord

VP of A&R Brandon MacNeil
A&R Danielle Sullivan, Chris Robinson

VP of Production Jan Košulič
Audio Director Lucas Paquette
Production Manager Martina Watzková
Production Assistant Adam Lysák

VP, Design & Marketing Brett Picknell
Art Director Ryan Harrison
Design Edward A. Fleming
Publicity Kacie Brown

Artist Information

Richard E Brown

Richard E Brown


Richard E. Brown, a native of New York State and has been active as a composer-arranger and music educator for many years. His training includes M.M. and D.M. degrees in composition from Florida State University, as well as a B.A. in music education from Central College, which named him a Distinguished Alumnus in 1983. His principal composition studies were with Carlisle Floyd, John Boda, and Charles Carter.

Denice Rippentrop


Denice Rippentrop believes that composing is a craft that is as much about the creative journey as the final composition itself. Rippentrop is the creator of numerous choral works, each of which she finds challenging in process, but fulfilling in the end. Composing gives her energy and purpose as she continually challenges herself to write with integrity and compassion. Rippentrop writes with a style and flair that reflects her understanding of the voice and ensemble balance.

John Partridge


John Partridge has been performing in the San Francisco Bay Area since the 1970's. As a concert pianist and organist, he specializes in music by American composers. As a composer, he has written everything from film scores to church cantatas.  After graduating from Berkeley High School, John attended UC Santa Cruz where majored in composition and conducting. Returning to the Bay Area in 1976, Partridge served as music director of the Bay Psalmers (a chorus composed of businesspeople in downtown San Francisco), of Berkeley Harmonia Chorus and Orchestra, and at several local churches.

Christopher J. Hoh


“Full of charm and shapely allure” (Opera News) and “a tapestry of immense grace” (Textura) are some of the praises Christopher J. Hoh has received for his music. He grew up in Reading PA and was influenced as a young singer and accompanist by great works under conductors in Pennsylvania, New York, and Washington. He has been in Alice Parker’s composer seminar as well as workshops with Jean Berger, Daniel Moe, Robert Page, and Craig Jessop. 

William Copper

William Copper


William Copper is an American composer of contemporary classical music, a theorist, and the authority on Intonalism, the science of structuring music according to intonation. His music is praised for its beauty, structural integrity, and innovative originality. He has been a life-long supporter and volunteer as Board Member and officer for music and cultural organizations.

Ferdinando DeSena


Ferdinando DeSena is a Miami-based composer who was born in Brooklyn NY. His earliest musical experiences were with neighborhood pop, rock, and doo-wopp groups. He worked as a musician in Ithaca NY for 13 years, playing in several regional bands as keyboard player and lead singer. His final group was Uptown Revue, which he led for seven years.

Kühn Choir of Prague


The Kühn Choir of Prague is one of the largest Czech choirs and has been part of the musical world for over 60 years. It devotes itself to the choral repertoire of all periods, and its activities include significant performances of contemporary music, performances of large vocal-instrumental works in collaboration with leading Czech orchestras and, last but not least, projects for the performance and recording of film music.

Lenka Navrátilová


Lenka Navrátilová studied piano and harpsichord at the Teplice Conservatory and choral conducting (sacred music) under the guidance of Jiří Kolář and Marek Štryncl at the Faculty of Education of Charles University in Prague. She is second chorus master of the Kühn Choir of Prague, professor of opera coaching at the Prague Conservatory, and répétiteur of the Prague Philharmonic Choir. As the assistant to the chorus master of the Prague Philharmonic Choir, she has participated in its appearances in Doha, Berlin, and at the Sankt Gallen opera festival.


This is a modal setting for divided a cappella choir of the ancient liturgical plea for mercy. It is in three sections having a ternary, or ABA, form:

Kyrie Eleison (Lord have mercy)
Christe Eleison (Christ have mercy)
Kyrie Eleison (Lord have mercy)

While there have been numerous stand-alone musical settings of this liturgical prayer over the centuries, it is most commonly heard as the first movement of the Catholic mass.

— Richard E Brown

Melodic lines inspired by medieval plainchant weave in and out of polyphonic and homophonic textures within a contemporary harmonic idiom to unite the ages in this new setting of a sacred Latin canticle.

Also called the Canticle of Simeon, Nunc Dimittis is the traditional Gospel Canticle of Night Prayer (Compline), just as the Benedictus and Magnificat are respectively the traditional Gospel Canticles of Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer. Included in both the Catholic and Lutheran services of Compline, Nunc Dimittis is part of the liturgical night office of many Western denominations. In Eastern tradition the canticle is included in Eastern Orthodox Vespers.

According to the narrative in Luke 2:25-32, Simeon was a devout Jew who had been promised by the Holy Spirit that he would not die until he had seen the Messiah. When Mary and Joseph brought the baby Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem for the ceremony of redemption of the firstborn son, Simeon was there. He took Jesus into his arms and uttered the words that became the canticle and are rendered in the Latin Vulgate as follows:

Vulgate text (Luke 2:29-32):
Nunc dimittis servum tuum, Domine, secundum verbum tuum in pace:
Quia viderunt oculi mei salutare tuum
Quod parasti ante faciem omnium populorum:
Lumen ad revelationem gentium, et gloriam plebis tuae Israel.

English translation:
Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord, according to thy word in peace; Because my eyes have seen thy salvation,
Which thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples:
A light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

Over the centuries, numerous composers have produced a great many musical settings of the Nunc Dimittis. Some of the better-known of these include those by Heinrich Schütz, Thomas Tallis, Charles Villiers Stanford, and Herbert Howells.

— Richard E Brown

“Yahweh!” – Psalms 66:4

Scholars and Rabi have commented that YHWH letters represent breathing sounds or aspirated consonants. When pronounced without the vowels, it sounds like breathing. YH (inhale) WH (exhale). As we breathe, we call out God’s Name: walking, sleeping, breathing. God’s Name is on our lips.

Psalms 66:4: “All the earth will worship you and will sing to you; they will sing to your Name, Yahweh!” (WEB)

As a cluster of voices sing the word “hum” and music unfolds, a soprano sings a descending major 3rd interval on the word “Yahweh.” The chorus sings Psalms 66:4 in four parts. There is a decisive sonic moment on the last time one hears “sing” sung. Words escape me in trying to express the spiritual power of the moment.

A stillness falls across the last measures as individual singers whisper “Yahweh” at various times until the piece ends. A feeling of deep peace and true worship takes the listener and performer to the awareness of God’s presence.

I have visions of Yahweh! being sung on the descending major 3rd worldwide. “They will sing to your Name, Yahweh.”
Breathe in – Breathe out: Yahweh!

— Denice Rippentrop

I have written several pieces which take their impetus from my convictions as a pacifist. My Missa L’Homme Arme, the opera The Soldiers Who Wanted to Kill Death, and this anthem are examples. The Dies Irae for the Children of Ukraine came from a suggestion by Beth Carter — director of the Valley of the Moon Chamber Ensemble — that I write a piece on a contemporary topic and that it incorporates some plainchant.

The music quotes Dies Irae and sources inspiration from two Bible passages: the description of “Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted because they are no more” in the Book of Jeremiah and the description of the “Day of Wrath” in the Book of Zephaniah.

— John Partridge

Dona Nobis Pacem was written as a response to the outbreak of war in 2003. Angele Dei and Agimus Tibi Gratias were written in 2009 and 2010 to make a set of three pieces that would coordinate in style, key, and text. All are for SSATBB a cappella and may be performed as a set or individually. They present old texts and draw on the traditions of Renaissance polyphony. As modern motets, however, they use an updated harmonic language and greater rhythmic freedom. When all three are performed, the music progresses in complexity. The first piece, in A-flat, has more homophonic sections and four-part textures. The second, in F minor, makes frequent use of three pairs of voices entering in imitation. The third, again in A-flat, weaves together for the most part six individual lines. All three modulate and make use of modal harmony in their development, in an attempt to sound both old and new — that is timeless, like the words of these prayers.

— Christopher J. Hoh

Angele Dei
Traditional, attr. Reginald of Canterbury, 11 – 12th century
Angele Dei, qui custos es mei,
Me, tibi commissum pietate superna,
Hodie, hac nocte,
Illumina, custodi,
Rege et guberna.

Angel of God, my guardian,
You commit your heavenly love to me,
Today, this night,
Illuminate, guard,
Rule and direct me.

Agimus Tibi Gratias
Traditional prayer after luncheon, from “Benediciones Mensae” (table blessings)
Agimus tibi gratias omnipotens Deus,
pro universis beneficiis tuis,
qui vivis et regnas in saecula saeculorum.
Fidelium animae, per misericordiam Dei,
requiescant in pace.

We give you thanks, all powerful God,
for all your benefits,
who lives and reigns for ages of ages.
May the souls of the faithful, through the mercy of God,
rest in peace.

Dona Nobis Pacem
Traditional, from the Latin mass
Dona nobis pacem.

Grant us peace.

This piece was written for the Bay Psalmers — a choral group composed of people who worked in Downtown San Francisco. I conducted this amateur chorus which met during our lunch hour for several years.

The piece itself was influenced by my love of madrigals, continental counterpoint and other kinds of polyphonic choral compositions. I’m particularly happy with the effect at the beginning where the sopranos are singing mezzo-voce to give the effect of angel voices heard in the distance while the other voices express their wonder at hearing voices in the sky.

— John Partridge

Three Psalms is a meditation on Psalms 22, 23, and 24 for SATB chorus, piano, and string quartet. It uses excerpts from Psalm 22, which is the prayer Jesus cries out on the cross. It begins, “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me,” and then prophecises exactly what was then happening on Golgotha.

Psalm 23 is used in its entirety. It is the most famous and greatly beloved Psalm — the prayer that begins, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”

Then there are fragments from the 24th Psalm. It cries out to the gates of Jerusalem to “look up” and see the “King of Glory,” the “Lord of Hosts,” entering the city. It calls to mind the triumphal entry of Jesus on Palm Sunday.

The text is not the familiar Middle English of the King James Bible, but rather a freely applied 21st Century vernacular chosen for its comfortable familiarity and ease of vocal articulation.

— Ferdinando DeSena

Psalm 22 Excerpts
My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?
Be not far from me: for there is no-one to help.
I’m poured out like water all my bones out of joint:
My heart is like wax; melted in my belly.
They pierce my hands and feet.
They split my robe between them and gamble for my cloak.
O Lord hurry to help me.
I declare your name to my people: I praise your name.
Praise Him and glorify Him,
for He has not ignored my affliction, nor hid His face.
When I cried out He heard.
The kingdom is the Lord’s: He is gov’nor among all nations.
A generation shall come and declare his righteousness.

Psalm 23
The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures.
He restores my soul.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in the path of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.
I will fear no evil for You are with me;
Your rod and your staff they comfort me.
You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies:
You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life:
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Psalm 24 Excerpts
The earth and its fullness are the Lord’s.
He founded it upon the flood.
Who shall ascend unto the hill of the Lord?
Or who shall stand in his Holy place?
Oh! Lift up you heads, oh you gates; the King of glory shall come in.
The Lord strong and mighty.
Lift up your heads, O you gates; the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory.
Sing out! Selah! Sing out!