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May 28, 2011

Romanticism, Tone Paintings and Modern Takes on Folk Tunes

New York Times:

The New Amsterdam Singers have explored music ranging from 15th-century sacred works to modern secular pieces in the 40 years since Clara Longstreth founded the group, and the choir’s performances have always been spirited and finely polished. The group’s real charm, though, is its passion for contemporary American music. Having built relationships with choral composers around the country, Ms. Longstreth has made a point of building smart thematic programs around their work.

The more purely folkloric section of the program, sung mostly by the group’s expert chamber choir, included Mack Wilberg’s lively harmonization of a Scottish folk tune, “O Whistle and I’ll Come to Ye,” and Derek Healey’s dialogue-rich arrangement of “Danse, Mon Moin’, Danse!,” a French-Canadian song.

Chen Yi channeled the Swingle Singers in her bright-hued version of “Shady Grove,” and Kirke Mechem’s mawkish setting of “Let Us Break Bread Together” was redeemed by his more vital recasting of “Love and Pizen: Variations on Springfield Mountain.”

But the freshest of these pieces was the program’s finale, Abbie Betinis’s inventive, richly melodic “Long Time Trav’ling.” Ms. Longstreth led the full choir in a velvety rendering of the work, and if that may not have been what Ms. Betinis had in mind — she said that she was inspired by the rougher, more nasal sound of 19th-century shape-note singing — the performance did justice to the score’s purely musical impulses. Read more.

Posted by acapnews at May 28, 2011 12:00 AM


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Posted by: WandaBush at May 30, 2011 8:03 PM

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