Ways You Went

Martin Bresnick composer
Mason Bates composer

The Crossing | Donald Nally conductor

PRISM Quartet

Scott Dettra organ

Release Date: September 20, 2024
Catalog #: NV6648
Format: Digital

Recently named Musical America’s 2024 Ensemble of the Year, Donald Nally’s chamber choir The Crossing stuns with their latest studio album, WAYS YOU WENT. Vibrant, exhilarating, and uplifting, this new release features original compositions by composers Martin Bresnick and Mason Bates. 

WAYS YOU WENT is a yin and yang of interconnected opposites. Bresnick’s song cycle Self-Portraits 1964 exclusively deals with the life and personality of a single man: young and intellectual, working as a trash collector to put himself through college, and escaping into literature at night. Bates’ trilogy Mass Transmission takes a telegraph conversation between mother and daughter in the 1920s and sets it to music, contrasting the warmth of human communication and a mechanistic medium. Both of these cycles, one introspective, the other socially oriented, are snapshots of a time gone by. The Crossing brings both to life with perfect mastery.

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Track Listing & Credits

# Title Composer Performer
01 Self-Portraits 1964, Unfinished: His Own Identity Martin Bresnick The Crossing | Donald Nally, conductor; PRISM Quartet 2:10
02 Self-Portraits 1964, Unfinished: I Wake Martin Bresnick The Crossing | Donald Nally, conductor; PRISM Quartet 6:20
03 Self-Portraits 1964, Unfinished: Where Lies The Final Harbor Martin Bresnick The Crossing | Donald Nally, conductor; PRISM Quartet 5:39
04 Self-Portraits 1964, Unfinished: The Darkling Thrush Martin Bresnick The Crossing | Donald Nally, conductor; PRISM Quartet 10:58
05 Self-Portraits 1964, Unfinished: Of Mortal Beauty Martin Bresnick The Crossing | Donald Nally, conductor; PRISM Quartet 10:38
06 Self-Portraits 1964, Unfinished: To Fling Out Broad Its Name Martin Bresnick The Crossing | Donald Nally, conductor; PRISM Quartet 3:29
07 Mass Transmission: The Dutch Telegraph Office Mason Bates The Crossing | Donald Nally, conductor; Scott Dettra, Organ 10:22
08 Mass Transmission: Java Mason Bates The Crossing | Donald Nally, conductor; Scott Dettra, Organ 5:34
09 Mass Transmission: Wireless Connections Mason Bates The Crossing | Donald Nally, conductor; Scott Dettra, Organ 5:45

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
We are grateful for:
our artists, composers, audience, friends, and supporters; the staff and congregation at our home, The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill; Heidi Kurtz and Beth van de Water for hospitality;
those who opened their homes to our artists during the recording of this album: David and Rebecca Thornburgh, Jeff and Liz Podraza, Corbin Abernathy and Andrew Beck, Dan Schwartz and Michael Rowley, Lauren Kelly and Henry Koch, Rebecca and Mark Bernstein, Steven Hyder and Donald Nally.

THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE CROSSING
Timothy V. Blair
Tyler Carrigan – Vice President
Phil Cooke – Treasurer
Mallory Dennis
Micah Dingler
Shawn Felton – Secretary
Mary D. Hangley
Cynthia A. Jarvis – President
Lauren Kelly
Mary Kinder Loiselle
Michael M. Meloy
Donald Nally – Conductor
Andrew Quint
Carol Loeb Shloss
Daniel Taylor

THE STAFF OF THE CROSSING
Donald Nally, conductor
Shannon McMahon, operations manager
Kevin Vondrak, assistant conductor & artistic associate
Paul Vazquez, sound designer
Elizabeth Dugan, bookkeeper
Benjamin Perri, production assistant – Mass Transmission

The Crossing is represented by Alliance Artist Management.

COME. HEAR. NOW.
www.crossingchoir.org

Self-Portraits 1964, Unfinished
Recorded March 21-23, 2023 at St. Peter’s Church in the Great Valley, Malvern, Pennsylvania

Mass Transmission
Recorded live in concert December 18, 2022 during The Crossing @ Christmas at The Crossing’s home, The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Recording Session Producers Paul Vazquez, Donald Nally & Kevin Vondrak
Project Keyboards John Grecia & Chuck Foster
Guest Keyboards John Conahan, Tim Lambert & John Walthausen
Recording Session Engineer Paul Vasquez
Assistant Recording Session Engineer Codi Yhap
Editing, Mixing, and Mastering Paul Vasquez

Album artwork by Christopher St. John

This album was made possible through the generous support
of Carol Westfall.

Executive Producer Bob Lord

VP of A&R Brandon MacNeil

VP of Production Jan Košulič
Audio Director Lucas Paquette

VP, Design & Marketing Brett Picknell
Art Director Ryan Harrison
Design Edward A. Fleming
Publicity Chelsea Kornago
Digital Marketing Manager Brett Iannucci

Artist Information

Donald Nally

Donald Nally

Conductor

Donald Nally collaborates with creative artists, leading orchestras, and art museums to make new works for choir that address social and environmental issues. He has commissioned over 180 works and, with The Crossing, has 29 recordings, with two Grammy Awards and eight nominations. Nally has served as chorus master at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Welsh National Opera, Opera Philadelphia, and the Spoleto Festival in Italy.

The Crossing

Choir

The Crossing is a professional chamber choir conducted by Donald Nally, dedicated to performing new music and committed to addressing social, environmental, and political issues through nearly 180 commissioned premieres. Collaborating with prestigious ensembles and venues like the New York and Los Angeles Philharmonics, Park Avenue Armory, Lincoln Center, and Carnegie Hall, The Crossing has released 33 albums, earning three GRAMMY® Awards for Best Choral Performance and multiple nominations. The Crossing is Musical American 2024 Ensemble of The Year.

Walter Aldrich MT
Isobel Anthony MT
Katy Avery SP MT
Nathaniel Barnett SP
Kelly Ann Bixby MT
Karen Blanchard SP MT
Steven Bradshaw SP MT
Aryssa Burrs * SP
Matthew Cramer MT
Micah Dingler MT
Ryan Fleming SP MT
Joanna Gates SP MT
Michael Hawes * SP
Steven Hyder SP MT
Michael Jones SP MT
Lauren Kelly SP MT
Anika Kildegaard SP MT
Heidi Kurtz MT
Elijah McCormack SP
Maren Montalbano SP MT
Rebecca Myers * SP
Daniel O’Dea MT
James Reese * SP
Daniel Schwartz SP MT
Thann Scoggin SP MT
Rebecca Siler ^ SP MT
Tiana Sorenson SP MT
Daniel Spratlan SP MT
Elisa Sutherland ^ MT
Daniel Taylor SP MT
Jackson Williams SP
Shari Wilson SP

* soloist, Self-Portraits 1964, Unfinished
^ soloist, Mass Transmission

Notes

Music by Martin Bresnick
Words by Herman Melville, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Thomas Hardy, and James Joyce.

Commissioned by The Crossing, Donald Nally, conductor, and PRISM Quartet, with generous support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Musical Fund Society of Philadelphia.

A note from the composer:

When I was 17, I was living alone, working as a maintenance man and trash collector in one of the city’s housing projects to earn enough to attend a new school. I would rise in darkness and travel to my job by train. In breaks, high on rooftops where sea birds took refuge in the hot summer of 1964, I read books carried in my back pocket and reflected on others I had studied in my first year at university. After work, at small clubs and coffee houses, I listened to music with others of my kind, returning late at night.

Now a much older man, I imagine that the texts I read and the music of the six movements of Self-Portraits 1964, Unfinished, are a memoir evoking my youthful state of mind then — rising before dawn, traveling, working, reading, listening, coming home.

In the rattling train, I remember
The long day and night.
Music, friends, lovers,
Words understood

And misunderstood
Ride with me,
Connecting and disconnecting
As the train sways.

Thoughts arising, fading,
Falling toward sleep, I consider
“What I do is me:
For that I came.”

– Martin Bresnick, February 2023

I. His Own Identity

No man can feel
His own identity aright,
Except his eyes be closed,

As if darkness were indeed
The proper element
Of our essences.

– Herman Melville (1819-1891), Moby Dick, Chapter 11, “Nightgown” (1851)

II. I Wake

I wake and feel
The fell of dark, not day.
What hours, O what black hours
We have spent this night!

What sights you, heart, saw;
Ways you went! And more
In yet longer light’s delay.
With witness I speak this.

Bitter would have me taste:
My taste was me;
Bones built in me,
Flesh filled, blood brimmed
The curse. Selfyeast of spirit
A dull dough sours.

I see the lost are like this,
And their scourge to be
As I am mine,
Their sweating selves;
but worse.

– Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889), “I wake and feel the fell of dark, not day” (c. 1886)

III. Where Lies The Final Harbor

Where lies the final
Harbor where we unmoor
No more? In what rapt
Ether sails the world,

Of which the weariest
Will never weary?
Where is the foundling’s
Father hidden?

Our souls are like
Those orphans whose
Unwedded mothers
Die in bearing them:

The secret of
Their paternity
Lies in their grave, and
We must there to learn it.

– Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chapter 114, “The Gilder”

IV. The Darkling Thrush

I leant upon a woodland gate
When frost was spectre-grey,
And winter’s dregs made desolate
The weakening eye of day.

The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
Had sought their household fires.

The ancient pulse of germ and birth
Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit on the earth
Seemed fervourless as I.

The land’s sharp features seemed to be
The century’s corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
The wind his death-lament.

At once a voice arose among
The bleak trees overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
Of joy illimited;

An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
Upon the growing gloom.

So little cause for carolings
Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
Afar or near around,

That I could think there trembled through
His happy good-night air
Some blessed hope, whereof he knew
And I was unaware.

– Thomas Hardy (1840-1928), “The Darkling Thrush” (Poems of the Past and Present, London MacMillan, 1901)

V. Of Mortal Beauty

He was alone. He was unheeded, happy,
And near to the wild heart of life.
He was alone and will-full and wild hearted.

She was alone and still, gazing out to sea.
She stood before him alone and still in midstream, gazing out to sea.
She seemed like one whom magic had changed
Into the likeness of a strange and beautiful seabird.
Her long slender legs were delicate as a crane’s
And pure save where an emerald trail of seaweed
Had fashioned itself as a sign upon the flesh.
Her thighs, fuller and soft hued as ivory,
Were bared almost to the hips,
Where the white fringes of her drawers
Were like the feathering of soft white down.
Her slateblue skirts were kilted boldly about her waist
And dovetailed behind her.
Her bosom was as a bird’s,Soft and slight, slight and soft
As the breast of some darkplumaged dove.
But her long fair hair was girlish:
And girlish, and touched
With the wonder of mortal beauty, her face.

Long, long she suffered his gaze
And the worship of his eyes
And then quietly withdrew her eyes from his
And bent them towards the stream,
Gently stirring the water with her foot
Here and there, here and there.
And a faint flame trembled on her cheek.

– James Joyce (1882-1941), Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Chapter 4 (1916)

VI. To Fling Out Broad Its Name

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells
Selves goes itself, myself it speaks and spells.
Crying – what I do is me:
For that I came.

– Gerard Manley Hopkins, “As Kingfishers Catch Fire” (1877)

Music by Mason Bates
Words from various sources

A note from the composer:

Mass Transmission tells the true story of a distantly-separated family communicating over the earliest radio transmissions. It’s 1920s-era Skype: on one end of the line is a Dutch girl sent to be a page in the colonial government of the East Indies; on the other end is her mother, thousands of miles away in the Dutch Telegraph Office. The piece explores the warmth of human emotions pulsing through a mechanistic medium.

Two obscure texts are set to music. The texts for outer movements are adapted from a 1928 government publication about the technological advances made by the Dutch in communicating with their colonists, compiling transcripts of these ground-breaking communications, and giving us the mother’s perspective. The central movement gives us the daughter’s perspective of jungle-life in Java, drawn from the diary of Elizabeth van Kampen about growing up there.

The chorus sings these texts, comprising the “animal warmth” of the piece, while the electronics give us a “musical scrim” of static and short-wave radio sounds. The organ connects the two: sometimes it supports the chorus, sometimes it plays the toccata-like music of the Dutch Telegraph Office.

I. The Dutch Telegraph Office

The miracle still lies in my memories like a dream.

Slowly layers of mystery unveil. Gradually my eyes alight as if recovering from a dream.

A bit fearfully, I speak into the microphone:

“Hello? Hello? Are you there, my child?”

12000 Kilometers, not a single wire. The air is what transmits the message. A miracle.

My voice travels to the Indies, which took my daughter weeks to reach on a steamboat. Days and nights, the endless sea around her. Now I can speak to that distant land, and my voice travels there wirelessly.

“Hello! Hello! Are you there, my child?”

But the reality around me is sober and mechanical. I’m in the headquarters of the Dutch Telegraph Office, in a small lifeless studio. A strange apparatus before me. A technician nearby. The earphones, the microphone on the armchair. It is very cold.

This is where Holland converses with its colonists in Java.

My child has been sent to be a page in the government in Java. It is a great honor, but it is hard on a mother.

A bit fearfully, I speak into the microphone:

“Hello! Hello! Are you there, my child?”

In a single second, I have crossed 12000 kilometers, as if it were the distance between two rooms.

And within that second, my daughter’s voice comes back:

II. Java

What I love most about Java are the moments I wake up.

I stay just a little longer in bed to listen to all the tropical noises. Birds twittering, monkeys echoing through the jungle. I hear soft, strange, beautiful music coming from the village. Gamelan music. Then I go outside, enjoying the fresh morning fragrance and admiring all those colorful flowers and the Durian trees.

My house is built on poles and made of stone and bamboo. The doors and windows are painted green. On top of the house is a red zinc roof. Underneath the house I often hide with the other children.

Sometimes we go right into the jungle. It is always hot and magical, and it always has a special smell — a bit of snakes and all sorts of plants. I watch my steps in this strange, lovely kingdom. The atmosphere is so unreal, like a paradise or Eden.

In the evening, lying in bed, I listen again to the gamelan in the village, and I miss you. You are so far away.

III. Wireless Communication

Are you there mum? Yes, my child. I can definitely recognize your voice!
Is everything fine with you, mum? Yes, dear… so good to hear your voice.
I miss you mum! I miss you too, my child.
Well…it is hot here in Java. And it’s storming here in Holland!
Is granddad with you? Nope, he has not come.
Okay, have a good night then. Good night, my child.

 

The voice from the East. Nothing is farther apart than the two straits that separate us. In this way the world grows closer and closer, even as we move further apart.

Each phone call was allowed to last six minutes at most. Six minutes, it seemed far too short. The six minutes passed, and the voice comes to a halt. The headphone is silent, the microphone lies on the table in the Dutch Telegraph Office.

Later, when I lie in my white bed, I can still hear my child’s voice: the memory, the ecstasy. No poem, no music is more beautiful than that. Holland and Java lie in the deepest part of a mother’s heart, and in every sigh is a wireless signal: Hello, oh, my child…

– “The Dutch Telegraph Office” & “Wireless Connections” adapted from Hallo Bandeong, hier Den Haag! (1928). Translation by Jerry Chu. Used by permission. “Java,” adapted from Memories of My Youth in the Dutch East-Indies by Elizabeth van Kampen. Used by permission.