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Johnson: Gentle Flame - Selected Choral Works

Johnson: Gentle Flame - Selected Choral Works

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This album presents some of the music Liz Dilnot Johnson has composed for Ex Cathedra. Other works include the recent orchestral cantata I Stand At The Door, setting words by Greta Thunberg and Kurt Masur, described by Jeffrey Skidmore as 'Johnson's love-song for the planet', and two 'eco-carols' Generous Winter (2023) and Imagine A Winter (2023). These carols are inspired by Prof. Kate Raworth, whose book Doughnut Economics encourages a rethinking of global economics to ensure a "safe and just space for humanity to thrive in." The compser says, "I am now seeking ways of cultivating such a space through musical creativity, together with the Ex Cathedra team." The first half of the album presents some of Johnson's earliest works including O Vos with spirals of sopranos unfurling, defined by the Fibonacci Series, written as part of a collaboration with mathematician Prof. Ian Stewart. More recent pieces that have been commissioned and premiered by Ex Cathedra, with whom Liz is composer-in-residence, include Blake Reimagined, a lockdown work originally composed for remote choir (later released on Youtube) with soloists including Carnatic singer Debipriya Sircar with Jazz and Soul singers Margaret Lingas and Gabriella Liandu. Four of Johnson's carols include the playful eco-carol A Wild Midwinter Carol, the acerbic Magi (her earliest work), the eight-part advent motet Gentle Flame and the tender lullaby For This Babe. The Windhover, setting Gerard Manley Hopkins' extraordinary poemis a tour de force, scored for baritone solo for the expressively powerful voice of Lawrence White with 10-part choir, summoning up the wild kestrel at dawn. The range of choral works on this album spans the enormous output across the composer's life, performed with great flair by Ex Cathedra directed by Jeffrey Skidmore. The second half of the album presents one of Johnson's large-scale choral works, When A Child Is A Witness - Requiem for Refugees, winner of the Ivors Composer Award for community and participation (2022). Setting words from the traditional Requiem Mass, along with words from the English Prayer Book, these choral movements encompass a world of music from a simple call and response song to complex and emotionally driven music that takes the listener on an emotional journey, moving from darkness into light. Liz Dilnot Johnson, initially a dedicated teacher in South London and Birmingham, redirected her career towards composition after pursuing an MA and PhD at Birmingham Conservatoire. Despite plans to return to teaching, mentor Philip Cashian encouraged her to continue composing. Johnson's music has garnered widespread acclaim, performed by renowned artists and ensembles internationally. Her chamber works have earned numerous prizes, including the Birmingham Chamber Music Society Composition Prize and the International Alliance of Women Musicians' Gideon Prize. Larger-scale compositions like "de l'herbe qui s'eveille" have been lauded for their evocative qualities. Notably, her piece "Moon Incantations" was a British Composer Awards finalist, and her Requiem for Aleppo integrates amateur and professional performers, showcasing her commitment to socially inspired compositions. Currently, she is embarking on a significant project with Ex Cathedra, composing new music for period instruments akin to J.S. Bach's cantatas.
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Product Description:

  • Release Date: June 28, 2024

  • UPC: 809730712524

  • Catalog Number: MEX77125

  • Label: Metier

  • Number of Discs: 1

  • Composer: Liz Dilnot Johnson

  • Performer: Ex Catherdra