COOMAN: THE EVENING CHOIR
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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
Born Among Us in the Night (op. 936; 2011) was commissioned for the 102nd annual Christmas Carol Services of the Memorial Church at Harvard University. It is dedicated to Tad Meyer and Ann Stevenson. The text is a carol by poet Richard Leach.
How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place (op. 937; 2011), a setting of Psalm 84:1–2, 4, is dedicated to Stephen Layton.
Easter Day (op. 997; 2013) was commissioned by the Memorial Church at Harvard University. It sets an early poem by Gerald Manley Hopkins.
I Have Seen the Lord: A Mary Magdalene Sequence (op. 688; 2006) was commissioned by the Episcopal Diocese of California for the installation of the Rt. Rev. Marc Handley Andrus as the eighth Bishop of California on July 22, 2006. The text of the work is the Bible narrative of Mary Magdalene encountering the risen Jesus.
The Name Above All Names (op. 843; 2009) is an extracted anthem from the oratorio The Acts of the Apostles. The text is Philippians 2:5–11.
When the Perfect Comes (op. 740; 2007) was commissioned Peter J. Gomes in celebration of the fortieth anniversary of his ordination to the ministry. The text, based on Gomes’s favorite scripture passages, was adapted by Matthew F. Burt from Romans 12:1, I Corinthians 13:8, 10, and Romans 12:2.
Veni Sancte Spiritus (op. 940; 2011) was jointly commissioned by Musica Spei (Rochester, New York) and Trobairitz (London, England). It is dedicated in memory of Lew Wallace. The text is the so-called “Golden Sequence,” one of the four Medieval sequences that was preserved after the Council of Trent. It is prescribed in the traditional liturgy for use at Pentecost and has been set to music by countless composers. Though all the music is newly-composed, this setting draws heavily on the techniques and style of Medieval and Renaissance music. Though the motet draws on historical contrapuntal processes and modality, the harmonic language employs more contemporary elements as well. In the manner of many Renaissance composers, each phrase of the text is portrayed descriptively in the musical content of its setting. The work is constructed primarily as a cantus firmus motet. The cantus firmus is first sung by all voices in unison at the beginning. This tune is in a Medieval secular “song” style, much like the popular songs of the era (such as L’homme armé) that were frequently used as cantus firmus material by Medieval and Renaissance composers in their motets and mass settings. Phrases from the cantus firmus tune appear overtly and non-overtly throughout the work. It is heard prominently again in the penultimate section, in a basic triple vs. duple prolation in the upper voices against the lower.
The Kingdom of Justice (op. 686; 2006) was commissioned by Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, San Jose, California, in honor of Edna Pope. The texts were adapted from the Bible by Matthew F. Burt, based on passages chosen by David Bird and Michael Burroughs.
Te Deum (op. 789; 2008) was commissioned by the Association of Anglican Musicians for its 2008 Annual Conference, Houston, Texas. It is dedicated to David Ashley White and sets the traditional text.
(Carson Cooman, 2014)
About the artists
Alexander Norman is Director of Music at Holy Trinity Church, Coventry. He holds a Master of Music degree from Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, where he studied Choral Conducting with Paul Spicer. Prior to this, Alex was an undergraduate student and organ scholar at Royal Holloway College, University of London where he accompanied the Chapel Choir for weekly services, broadcasts on BBC Radio 2 and 3 (Choral Evensong), and a recording of music by Rihards Dubra on the Hyperion label.
Alex played the organ for the choir in many prestigious cathedrals and churches, including Evensongs at St. Paul’s Cathedral (London), St. George’s Chapel (Windsor), Washington National Cathedral and St. John the Divine Cathedral (New York). Alex has given organ recitals at Birmingham and Coventry Cathedrals as well as local churches. He studied the organ with Rupert Gough and Alistair Reid. As Artistic Director of Convivium Singers, Alex was producer on a number of recordings for Convivium Records, including CDs of choral music by Malcolm Archer and Margaret Rizza. He directed the ensemble at the Tolosa International Choral Contest and at festivals in Italy, Sardinia and the Czech Republic. Alex returns to Tolosa in October 2018 to conduct Convivium Singers at the 50th Anniversary of the Choral Contest. In 2015, Alex founded the Charpentier Ensemble to explore vocal music of the Baroque Era, involving some of the rising stars of the early music scene. He teaches the piano at Blue Coat C of E School, Coventry and is Musical Director of Wythall Commmunity Choir.
Convivium Singers is an award-winning, critically acclaimed choral ensemble, providing opportunities for young singers at the early stages of performing careers, as well as for talented musicians who have chosen not to pursue careers in music. The ensemble specialises in performing and recording sacred and secular music by living European and American composers. It was recently described as ‘an extraordinarily good choir to listen to’ by BBC Radio 3’s ‘CD Review.’
Convivium Singers have released a number of recordings in recent years, collaborating with companies, including the Baltic Exchange, London, and publishers, notably the Royal School of Church Music. Composer discs include works by Jonathan Dove, Margaret Rizza, Malcolm Archer, Carson Cooman, Hugh Benham and Michael Higgins. They have also delved into early music, and their CD of motets by Peter Philips (Convivium Records) received a Choir & Organ five-star review. The choir was filmed at Portsmouth Cathedral in 2014 for a special Songs of Praise programme on BBC1, as part of the DDay70 commemorations.
The Singers often work with established conductors and composers to introduce contemporary music to wider audiences. They were prize-winners at the Tolosa International Choral Contest (2011, Spain). The ensemble has also performed at Milan’s La Fabbrica del Canto festival and in Hradec Králové at the Czech choral festival Sborové slavnosti.
Convivium Singers have a diverse repertoire from traditional choral music to folk-songs, partsongs and popular arrangements.
- The Evening Choir - Carson Cooman
- Be Ye Wise - Carson Cooman
- Born Among Us In The Night - Carson Cooman
- How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place - Carson Cooman
- Easter Day - Carson Cooman
- I Have Seen The Lord: A Mary Magdalene Sequence - Carson Cooman
- The Name Above All Names - Carson Cooman
- When The Perfect Comes - Carson Cooman
- Veni Sancte Spiritus - Carson Cooman
- The Kingdom Of Justice, movement I - Carson Cooman
- The Kingdom Of Justice, movement II - Carson Cooman
- The Kingdom Of Justice, movement III - Carson Cooman
- The Kingdom Of Justice, movement IV - Carson Cooman
- Te Deum - Carson Cooman
Catalogue Number: CR023
Choir Convivium Singers
Saxophone Alistair Wright
Trumpet Alex Smith
Organist Joe Waggott
Conductor Alexander Norman
Photography Jacqui Marie Dunster
Engineering Adaq Khan
Mastering Adaq Khan
Producer Andrew King
Creative Director John Bevan
Executive Producer Adrian Green
Recorded 19, 20, 21 July, 2013
Venue St Alban the Martyr, Highgate, Birmingham
Total Duration 64 mins