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The Singing Guitar / Conspirare; Craig Hella Johnson

The Singing Guitar / Conspirare; Craig Hella Johnson

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A 2021 GRAMMY Nominee for Best Choral Performance!

The wonderful Conspirare chamber choir, known for its interpretive depth and other-worldly sonic lushness, offers another of its captivating programs — this time joined by three superb guitar quartets — in a program remarkably relevant for our time. The choir is joined by the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, the Texas Guitar Quartet, the Austin Guitar Quartet, and cellist Douglas Harvey for this release featuring compositions by Reena Esmail, Craig Hella Johnson, Nico Muhly, and Kile Smith. Conspirare is a virtuoso choir. The Grammy-winning ensemble comprises distinctive solo artists who are also committed to the highest level of ensemble performance. These professional singers travel to Austin from around the country to perform together, providing their audiences with a rare level of choral music making.

REVIEW:

Conspirare’s new recording featuring the Austin-based choral group and three guitar quartets bookends impressive large-scale works by Nico Muhly and Kile Smith with small jewels by Reena Esmail and founding conductor Craig Hella Johnson.

Smith’s The Dawn’s Early Light features only one guitar quartet but the most beautiful texts, from Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins’s 1883 autobiography, one of the earliest books by a Native American woman.

The participation of three guitar quartets from LA and Texas adds texture and warmth to Muhly’s How Little You Are, a thoughtful 40-minute meditation on the words of American pioneer women in the 19th century, its lovely solos sung by Estelí Gomez.

Esmail’s When the Guitar—inspired by a 14th-century Persian lyric, ‘When the guitar can forgive the past, it starts singing’—uses the intriguing sounds of the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet as one of the layers of a fabulous wrap for the chorus. Johnson’s serene The Song That I Came to Sing, which sets a Rabindranath Tagore poem for cello and treble voices, was composed as a framing piece for the program ‘which would reflect aspects of unfulfilled purpose and a longing for intimacy with the Divine’.

-- Gramophone

The Conspirare chamber choir, known for its interpretive depth and otherworldly sonic lushness, offers another of its captivating programs—this time joined by three superb guitar quartets—in a program remarkably relevant for our time. Conspirare’s debut album on Delos, The Hope of Loving, was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance in 2020. Here, the combination of guitar quartet and chorus is so successful that one wonders why more composers have not written for it. The works on this album were written by four of America’s greatest living composers: Nico Muhly, Reena Esmail, Kile Smith, and Craig Hella Johnson.

-- WFMT Chicago

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  • Release Specifications

    • Number of Discs: 1
    • Release Date:
    • Label: Delos
    • UPC/Barcode: 013491359526
    • Item Number: DE 3595