Two branches of choral royalty entwine with majestic harmony on the latest release from Grammy-winning composer Eric Whitacre and acclaimed vocal ensemble VOCES8. The album includes a world premiere, All Seems Beautiful To Me, and a new recording of Whitacre’s deeply moving 2019 cantata The Sacred Veil.
The five-minute work All Seems Beautiful To Me is based on a poem by Walt Whitman (from Song of the Open Road) celebrating the human spirit’s capacity for generosity and growth. It was commissioned by the United States Air Force Band and here receives its world premiere recording. Also included is a new recording of one of Whitacre’s most frequently performed and much loved pieces, The Seal Lullaby.
The album also includes Sing Gently and Go, Lovely Rose. The former was composed during lockdown specially for Whitacre’s Virtual Choir, made up of over 17,500 singers from 124 different countries. The latter was Whitacre’s first ever composition, written 30 years ago, and thus the new album is also, in part, a joyful celebration of his three decades as a composer.
The longest work is the twelve-movement, hour-long 2019 cantata The Sacred Veil for choir, cello (Emma Denton), and piano (Christopher Glynn). The text, by Whitacre’s close friend and long-time collaborator Charles Anthony Silvestri, commemorates the death of the poet’s young wife Julie from ovarian cancer. It journeys from the growth of their love, through the birth of their children, to their struggle with the illness. One particularly striking section ‘You Rise, I Fall’ involves extraordinary descending and ascending tone-clusters mirroring the emotional states of the dying woman and her husband.
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