Carson Cooman: The Evening Choir


An exclusive collection of Carson Cooman’s choral writing, performed by Convivium Singers under the expert direction of Alexander Norman.

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About this release

This disc brings together an exclusive collection of Carson Cooman’s choral writing, performed by the award-winning critically acclaimed Convivium Singers, under the expert direction of Alexander Norman. The album features settings of liturgical texts and psalms, newly commissioned choral works and highlights from Cooman’s extensive choral writing.

Commissioned Programme Note

The Evening Choir (op. 959; 2012) for chorus, soloists, and organ was commissioned by the Memorial Church at Harvard University to celebrate the dedication of the C. B. Fisk organ, Op. 139: the Charles B. Fisk and Peter J. Gomes Memorial Organ. The work is dedicated in memory of Peter J. Gomes (1942–2011), for whose personal support and encouragement I will be forever grateful. The text is an extended poem by Jones Very (1813–1880), a mystical figure associated with the American Transcendentalism movement. A graduate of Harvard University and Harvard Divinity School, Very produced a large body work in a personal style that was much appreciated and praised by his Transcendentalist colleagues. Much like the English poet Christopher Smart, Very suffered from issues of mental health and religious delusions (believing at times he was the Second Coming of Christ), and was institutionalized for a number of years. Upon his release, he was helped in the publication of his work particularly by Ralph Waldo Emerson (who believed strongly in Very’s sanity-”Such a mind cannot be lost,” Emerson wrote). Very spent most of the remainder of his life as a recluse under the care of his sister, and in the last 40 years of his life produced little work and made almost no public appearances due to crippling shyness. Though some of his poems were published in his lifetime, the vast majority were only circulated privately among the Transcendentalists. Though Very’s work was highly regarded by his contemporaries, it was only with the publication of Helen R. Deese’s critical edition of his complete poems (862 of them) in 1993 that his achievements have been more broadly acknowledged and praised by the wider community of scholars and poetry lovers. The poem is set as a cantata-involving choir, four soloists, and prominent use of the organ. Given the dramatic nature of the text, the work is rather more austere and apocalyptic than most of my choral music to date. I sought to create a musical analogue to the blazingly vivid sound of Very’s verse.Read more