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Company of Voices - Conspirare In Concert

Conspirare / Johnson
Release Date: 05/12/2009 
Label:  Harmonia Mundi   Catalog #: 9907535  
Composer:  Morten LauridsenCarly SimonTraditionalSamuel Barber
Conductor:  Craig Hella Johnson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Conspirare
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

A Company of Voices
Conspirare in Concert
CRAIG HELLA JOHNSON, Artistic Director
with Bion Tsang, cello, and Thomas Burritt, percussion

Recorded October 12, 2008
at the Long Center for the Performing Arts
Conducted by Craig Hella Johnson (CHJ)

DVD Harmonia Mundi HMD 9907535.
(56 min + 38 min. bonus features)
A production of KLRU-TV in association with Conspirare
“A Company of Voices” marks Conspirare’s national television debut. This CD includes eighteen songs that take the audience on a journey of innovative sound, vibrant images and thought-provoking ideas and offers a message of love, hope and transformation.

Read more FEATURES*
-Conversations: Craig Hella Johnson (with Midge Woolsey)
-Reflections: Conspirare (Conspirare singers share experiences)
-Behind the Scenes (still photos)
-Backdrop Images

Album Track List

1. Sure on This Shining Night (Morten Lauridsen)
2. Let the River Run (Carly Simon, arr. CHJ)
3. The Water is Wide (traditional, arr. CHJ)
4. Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel? (spiritual, arr. Moses Hogan)
5. Will There Really Be a “Morning”? (Craig Hella Johnson)
6. Light of a Clear Blue Morning (Dolly Parton, arr. CHJ)
7. Agnus Dei excerpt (Samuel Barber)
8. Gabriel’s Oboe (Ennio Morricone) Bion Tsang, cello/ Ian Davidson, oboe
9. Soneto de la Noche (Morten Lauridsen)
10. What If (Eric Whitacre)
11. Requiem (Eliza Gilkyson, arr. CHJ)
12. 1000 Beautiful Things (Annie Lennox, arr. CHJ)
13. Triptych (excerpt) III. Each shall rise (Tarik O’Regan)
14. I Love You (Larry Norman, Randy Stonehill, arr. CHJ)/ What a Wonderful World (Robert Thiele, George David Weiss, arr. CHJ)
15. The First of My Lovers (Sydney Carter, arr. CHJ)


1. Collage (arr. CHJ)
Wayfarin’ Stranger (traditional)/You’re No Good (Clint Ballard, Jr.)/De Profundis (chant)/See My Eyes (Andrew Lloyd Webber)/ Crying (Joe Melson, Roy Orbison)/Drop, Drop Slow Tears (Orlando Gibbons) 2. Deep River (spiritual, arr. Roy Ringwald)
3. When I Fall in Love (Edward Herman, arr. CHJ)/Nearer My God to Thee (Lowell Mason, arr. CHJ)

R E V I E W:


A COMPANY OF VOICES: CONSPIRARE IN CONCERT Craig Hella Johnson, cond; Conspirare HARMONIA MUNDI 9907535 (DVD: 94:00); CD 907534 (68:47 Text and Translation)


Making the acquaintance of a new ensemble is always a fraught experience: one wants it to succeed but knows, just knows, that the odds are against it. Indeed, when I saw the program list of Conspirare, a professional chorus from Austin, Texas, my heart sank: a salmagundi of everything from Orlando Gibbons, through Morten Lauridsen, to Andrew Lloyd Webber and Dolly Parton. It is with pleasure one can say, then, that it offers a concert that, though broad in its repertoire, is solid and true in its performance.

Most American choruses have made Samuel Barber’s setting of James Agee’s poem, “Sure on this shining night,” a central part of their repertoire, but I would bet that Lauridsen’s 2005 setting for piano and chorus will easily make its way forward as well. On this recording, the Barber piece is an excerpt from the vocal version, “Agnus Dei,” made from the second movement of his string quartet.

There are too many pieces to comment on individually, but several caught my ear. Eric Whitacre is, together with Lauridsen, the flavor of the moment in new American choral music, and his piece here, “What If,” is a good example of his popular style, though it will take the average choir a lot of work to make it sound as easy as it does here. Conspirare has already recorded Tarik O’Regan’s large piece for chorus and accompaniments, Threshold of Night . The piece here, “Each shall rise,” the third of a set called Tryptich , is highly rhythmic and accompanied by an ad hoc percussion ensemble based on marimbas and vibraphone. The popular arrangements are mostly by Johnson, who plays their piano accompaniments.

The publicity tells me that this is a typical Johnson “collage program,” in which he tries to bridge classical and popular music for a broad audience. If they are all this good, he has succeeded well, as the audience on the DVD testifies. All the music on the CD is also on the DVD, which is longer because there is a brief interview with Johnson, some rehearsal excerpts, and pictures of those rehearsals. Three of the sets are placed separately on the DVD as a “bonus,” because apparently only part of the concert was broadcast.

This is a very American program, of the best sort. There’s nothing high-tech here, just good, straightforward singing. The tuning is spot-on, the words are always clear, and they sound like they are having a good time along with the audience. I much look forward to hearing more from this ensemble.

FANFARE: Alan Swanson
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Works on This Recording

Nocturnes for Chorus and Piano: no 3, Sure on this shining night by Morten Lauridsen
Conductor:  Craig Hella Johnson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Conspirare
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 2005; United States 
Let The River Run by Carly Simon
Conductor:  Craig Hella Johnson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Conspirare
Period: 20th Century 
Water is wide by Traditional
Conductor:  Craig Hella Johnson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Conspirare
Agnus Dei, Op. 11 by Samuel Barber
Conductor:  Craig Hella Johnson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Conspirare
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1967; USA 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 DON'T MISS THIS June 18, 2014 By David Izzard (Leawood, KS) See All My Reviews "Every once in a while a performance comes along that is magic. This is one of those performances. Singers are suburb. The interpretation is wonderful. The only tiny thing I can say is that I wish the quality of the audio was better." Report Abuse
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