Words Adorned

wordsadornedI’ve been listening to another new CD release by American choir The Crossing and their conductor Donald Nally.  It’s called Words Adorned and contains two cycles by contemporary Arab-American composers setting really beautiful 11th century Andalusian texts.

The first piece is by Kareem Roustom.  It’s titled Embroidered Verses; Songs on Andalusian Poetry.  The 24 voice choir is accompanied by the Al-Bustan Takht Ensemble (Hanna Khoury violin and music director, Wassim Odeh oud, Hicham Chami qanun, Kinan Abou-afach cello andHafez Kotain percussion).  The composition blends western and Arabic influences so there are complex harmonies, long meandering vocal lines and quarter tones combining to make something really very interesting.  The texts too are varied ranging from a boisterous drinking song to evocative nature poetry and a slightly sinister challenge to war.  I really enjoyed it.

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A Native Hill

anativehillGavin Bryars’ A Native Hill is a setting of sections from Wendell Berry’s 1968 essay of that title.  It was written for, and recorded by, Philadelphia based choir The Crossing and their conductor Donald Nally.  The essay was written by Berry shortly after moving back to Kentucky to farm.  It deals mainly with how landscapes and the humans in them are shaped by each other in profound ways.  It’s very local and specific and reminded me in a curious sort of way of WG Hoskins’ The Making of the English Landscape that came out a few years before the Berry essay.

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