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Forgotten Voices - A Song Cycle For Voices & Strings

Forgotten Voices - A Song Cycle For Voices & Strings

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Multi-award-winning violinist Kelly Hall-Tompkins is the entrepreneurial spirit behind Music Kitchen, the pioneering project that brings top classical music and musicians into homeless shelters, sharing the inspirational, therapeutic, and uplifting power of music with those experiencing homelessness. Founded in New York City, Music Kitchen has presented over 100 concerts to more than 30,000 homeless shelter clients coast to coast, including in Los Angeles, Cincinnati, Oakland, Rochester, and internationally in Paris, France. According to the New York Times, “The concerts have an air of authenticity and directness that sometimes does not exist in concert halls.”

Forgotten Voices is a song cycle commissioned by Music Kitchen – Food for the Soul, with support from Carnegie Hall, comprising works by 15 of today’s foremost composers featuring evocative and poignant texts by homeless shelter clients that have provided a profound source of inspiration and reverence. Forgotten Voices premiered to a sold-out Carnegie Hall audience in March 2022 and inspired a short film that has won multiple awards at festivals around the globe, including Winner: Best Cause-Driven Film and Finalist: Best Director and Best Documentary at the Cannes World Film Festival, Winner: Best Short Film at the Los Angeles Documentary Film Festival, and Winner: Best Short Documentary at the Berlin Indie Film Festival.


Violinist Kelly Hall-Tompkins is the entrepreneurial spirit behind Music Kitchen and the composer of one of the songs. She and 5 other string players, supply accompaniment to the 4 singers. I presume it is she who plays so nimbly in `Music Kitchen Interplay’ by Ellen Taaffe Zwilich with a text from a client who is amazed at what a violin can do and who gives thanks for how Music Kitchen “was a blessing to my hungry body and soul”.

The longest song of the album, Jeffrey Scott’s `Für Mein Vater’, is a setting of the poet’s fond remembrance of his father’s love of Mozart and Brahms, which was rekindled by hearing Music Kitchen perform it. It is sung sensitively by Allison Charney. Each time I listen to these songs I hear something new to like.

The program ends sublimely with Paul Moravec’s `Music is Love’. The words offer a strong statement about the values of this project and of music itself: “Music is love. It’s freedom, awakening. Music is universal. Music unites us all. Music expands our horizons. Classical music enables you to discover yourself.” After about a 20-second pause the song is repeated in a longer version for all four singers in harmony. I suspect this was sung as an encore at the concert. These final two tracks are especially lovely.

Each of the songs brings a message of gratitude or hope even in the midst of personal struggle. Collectively the album conveys consolation and the healing power of love. The songs call for excellent string playing, and these folks produce it brilliantly. The two sopranos sing with great expression and are especially poignant in their softer singing...Blumberg...begins the program with a tender reading of Steve Sandberg’s `Thank You’. Songs texts are included, though they are hardly needed—the singers’ diction is very clear most of the time. I find the songs appealing. I find the mission of Music Kitchen even more appealing.

-- American Record Guide

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Product Description:

  • Release Date: March 10, 2023

  • UPC: 822252258226

  • Catalog Number: AV2582

  • Label: AVIE Records

  • Number of Discs: 1

  • Period: Contemporary

  • Composer: Steve Sandberg, Jeff Scott, Errolyn Wallen, Jon Grier, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Courtney Bryan, James Lee III, Kevin Puts, Kamala Sankaram, Gabriel Kahane, Carlos Simon, Angélica Negrón, Beata Moon, Paul Moravec

  • Performer: Kelly Hall-Tompkins, Jesse Blumberg, Ling Ling Huan, Andrew Gonzalez, Peter Seidenberg, Allison Charney, John-Paul Norpoth, Adrienne Danrich, Mark Risinger, Alexis Gerlach