Album Review

Posted: Monday 5th June 2006
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Anthems for the 21st Century – Choir Schools Today

The Vasari Singers are one of this country’s longest established quality chamber choirs and leading proponents of contemporary church music. This disc is made up entirely of world premiere recordings, 9 of the 12 pieces commissioned for the choir’s 25th anniversary, with the guiding brief that the work might reflect the state of the world at the start of the new millennium, and also sit comfortably within the context of a cathedral evensong. Consequently, this is a stimulating and inspiring project between composers and choir.

Highlights among the commissions include Will Todd’s Angel Song II, Humphrey Clucas’ Hear my crying, O God, Philip Moore’s I saw him standing and Ward Swingle’s Give us this day, while other non-commissioned premieres include Jonathan Dove’s Bless the Lord O my soul and James Macmillan’s Chosen. There can be little doubt that cathedral music needs the pioneering spirit of the Vasari Singers to encourage new works, yet one suspects that many of these pieces with a high level of difficulty will not be finding their way onto cathedral repertoires.

Occasionally moments of these pieces prove too much for the choir, with the sopranos noticeably losing their even tone in the higher registers, but this is more than made up for elsewhere, the highlights for me including in the incisive singing at the jagged rhythms of Dove’s Bless the Lord, the sublime wordless Angel Song II of Todd, and the emotional restraint in Moore’s I saw him standing. Overall, an exiting disc, that enhances Vasari’s position at the forefront of choral singing in his country.

Choir Schools Today