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Heaven Is Music - Choral And Vocal Music Of Virgil Thomson / Gregg Smith Singers

Thomson / Gregg Smith Singers
Release Date: 02/09/2010 
Label:  Albany Records   Catalog #: 1166  
Composer:  Virgil Thomson
Performer:  Rosalind Rees
Conductor:  Gregg Smith
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gregg Smith Singers
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

The story of the wide-eyed lad from Kansas City who became the toast of Paris via Harvard, one of America’s most influential music critics from his decades’ long perch at the New York Herald Tribune and a truly unique and productive composer, is almost hackneyed now, but still bears that “only in America” cachet. It was as a long-term resident of the Chelsea Hotel in New York that Gregg Smith and his Singers got to know the redoubtable Virgil in the later decades of his long life (born in 1896, he died at the age of 92 in 1989.) The present CD is an offering of gratitude for Virgil’s support and friendship, as well as a concise overview of his work in the choral field—along with a brief excursion into his solo output.

"Of
Read more particular delight are the four Songs to Poems of Thomas Campion sung by soprano Rosalind Rees colorfully accompanied by clarinet and harp. Thomson’s settings smoothly meld, without parody hints of English madrigal, 19th Century parlour song and folk-like Americana creating an appealing hybrid." - Greg La Traille, ArkivMusic.com

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The Gregg Smith Singers are one of the world's primary small choral ensembles, particularly among those with a reputation for twentieth century music. When Gregg Smith founded the ensemble, he was an assistant in the UCLA (University of California at Los Angeles) Department of Music. In 1958 the group made its first appearance on the international musical scene, and later appeared at the Brussels World's Fair. Shortly, the Singers came to the attention of Igor Stravinsky, who chose it as his favored vocal ensemble, particularly in his historic series of recordings for the Columbia label. This association continued for twelve years until the great composer's death in 1971. Smith himself was chosen to conduct the chorus and orchestra for Stravinsky's funeral services in Venice.

The Singers undertook their second European tour in 1971; since then they continued touring frequently, totaling 34 tours by the end of the century. Since 1973 the Singers have been based in New York City, and makes annual appearances at the Adirondack Musical Festival at Lake Saranac, New York, and conducts the North Country Choral Workshop at Saranac Lake, open to high school students. More than a thousand students have completed this course. In the 1980s it became associated with New York City's "Art Connection" concerts.

The GSS's recording activities (which began even earlier than the Stravinsky collaboration with a recording on the Verve jazz label) has included for Vox, Everest, CRI, Lovely Music, and many others. Over the years it has participated in concerts and recordings with such conductors as Bernstein, Stokowski, Ormandy, and many others. Seventy percent of the repertory of the Singers is American music, extending from Stephen Foster, Victor Herbert, Ives, Copland, and William Schuman, to late twentieth century composers such as Roger Reynolds, Jacob Druckman, Elliott Carter, Ned Rorem, and Louise Talma. In 1978 it received the Ditson Conductor's prize for service to American music, and in 1988 the Berliasky Prize of the American Academy in Rome. It won three Grammy awards, one each for The Glory of Gabrieli, New Music of Charles Ives, and another Ives disk, General Booth Enters into Heaven.

~ Joseph Stevenson, Rovi
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Works on This Recording

1.
De profundis by Virgil Thomson
Conductor:  Gregg Smith
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gregg Smith Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1920-1951; USA 
2.
Tribulationes civitatum by Virgil Thomson
Conductor:  Gregg Smith
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gregg Smith Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1922; USA 
3.
O my Deir Hart by Virgil Thomson
Conductor:  Gregg Smith
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gregg Smith Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
4.
Welcome to the New Year by Virgil Thomson
Conductor:  Gregg Smith
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gregg Smith Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
5.
The Holly and the Ivy by Virgil Thomson
Conductor:  Gregg Smith
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gregg Smith Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1955; USA 
6.
Songs (4) to Poems of Thomas Campion by Virgil Thomson
Performer:  Rosalind Rees (Soprano)
Conductor:  Gregg Smith
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gregg Smith Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1951/1956; USA 
7.
Mass by Virgil Thomson
Conductor:  Gregg Smith
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gregg Smith Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1934; USA 
Notes: Scored for Two Part Chorus and Percussion. 
8.
Choruses (7) from the Medea of Euripedes by Virgil Thomson
Conductor:  Gregg Smith
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gregg Smith Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
9.
My Shepherd will Supply my Need by Virgil Thomson
Conductor:  Gregg Smith
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gregg Smith Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1959 
10.
Hymns from the Old South by Virgil Thomson
Conductor:  Gregg Smith
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gregg Smith Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1949; USA 

Sound Samples

De Profundis
Tribulationes civitatum
O My Deir Hert
Welcome to the New Year
The Holly and the Ivy
4 Songs to the Poems of Thomas Campion: No. 1. Follow Your Saint
4 Songs to the Poems of Thomas Campion: No. 2. There is a Garden in her Face
4 Songs to the Poems of Thomas Campion: No. 3. Rose-Cheek'd Laure, Come
4 Songs to the Poems of Thomas Campion: No. 4. Follow Thy Fair Sun
Mass for 2-Part Chorus and Percussion: Kyrie
Mass for 2-Part Chorus and Percussion: Gloria
Mass for 2-Part Chorus and Percussion: Credo
Mass for 2-Part Chorus and Percussion: Sanctus
Mass for 2-Part Chorus and Percussion: Agnus Dei
7 Choruses from the Medea of Euripides: No. 1. O gentle heart
7 Choruses from the Medea of Euripides: No. 2. Love, like a leaf
7 Choruses from the Medea of Euripides: No. 3. O, happy were our fathers
7 Choruses from the Medea of Euripides: No. 4. Weep for the little lambs
7 Choruses from the Medea of Euripides: No. 5. Go down, O Sun
7 Choruses from the Medea of Euripides: No. 6. Behold, O Earth
7 Choruses from the Medea of Euripides: No. 7. Immortal Zeus controls the fate of Man
My Shepherd Will Supply My Need
Hymns from the Old South: No. 1. The Morning Star
Hymns from the Old South: No. 2. Death, 'tis a Melancholy Day
Hymns from the Old South: No. 3. Green Fields

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