Patricia Van Ness: Birds of the Psalms (Live) Cappella Clausura

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Label: Navona

Genre: Classical

Subgenre: Vocal

Album including Album cover


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  • Patricia Van Ness (1951- ): Birds of the Psalms:
  • 1I. Psalm 91 (Live)03:19
  • 2II. Psalm 55 (Live)03:52
  • 3III. Psalm 17 (Live)02:56
  • 4IV. Psalm 104 (Live)02:11
  • 5V. Psalm 57 (Live)03:27
  • 6VI. Psalm 63 (Live)03:19
  • 7VII. Psalm 148 (Live)01:59
  • 8VIII. Psalm 61 (Live)03:16
  • 9IX. Psalm 36 (Live)02:32
  • 10X. Psalm 91, Beauty Flew to Me (Reprise) [Live]03:16
  • Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893):
  • 11Vesper Service, Op. 52: No. 5, Gladsome Light (Live)02:46
  • Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943):
  • 12All-night Vigil, Op. 37 "Vespers": No. 2, O Praise the Lord (Live)05:22
  • 13All-night Vigil, Op. 37 "Vespers": No. 4, Blessed Is the Man (Live)06:00
  • Henry Purcell (1659-1695):
  • 14Hear My Prayer, O Lord, Z. 15 (Live)01:57
  • Thomas Weelkes (1576-1623):
  • 15When David Heard (Live)03:34
  • Kassia (810-865):
  • 16Leaving the Wealth of Her Family (Arr. A. Leclair for Choir) [Live]02:24
  • Total Runtime52:10

Info for Patricia Van Ness: Birds of the Psalms (Live)

German philosopher Immanuel Kant defined the Sublime as "beauty accompanied by awe" – a thought which perfectly encapsulates the spirit of Cappella Clausura's second PARMA release, BIRDS OF THE PSALMS. Evocatively conducted by Amelia LeClair, the ensemble interprets a magnificent choral repertoire spanning six centuries.

Indeed, this Boston-area choir performs with such intimate dedication that the individual voices morph into a single body of sound, leading the listener deeply into the heart of the music itself. This unification of vocal expression, flawless and soulfully upheld throughout, unveils the timelessness of all works performed – from 17th-century favorite Henry Purcell's Hear My Prayer to contemporary composer Patricia Van Ness's eponymous choral cycle Birds of the Psalms.

The latter, a selection of ten psalms scored for a cappella choir, constitutes the album's focal point. Van Ness explores the pure and the divine in carefully constructed, aesthetically crafted soundscapes. Conducted by Amelia LeClair, Birds of the Psalms runs the gamut of the human condition from profound serenity to fervent longing. While Psalm 104 conveys a sophisticated tenderness, Psalm 54 and Psalm 148 examine downright primal realms of tonality, featuring grand melodic lines interspersed with strong rhythmic contrasts. The opening track, Psalm 91, develops into a spacious musical tapestry from but a single initial voice.

Unsurprisingly, Van Ness's gracious compositions pair well with the established choral repertoire. Purcell's aforementioned classic, haunting and beautiful in its own right, is performed with dolorous intensity, rendering the final resolution nothing short of breathtaking. Tchaikovsky's ethereal Svete Tihiy evokes the natural appeal of birdsong, while Rachmaninoff's Blagoslovi, its background of male vocals juxtaposed with a single alto in what could best be described as a spiritual bel canto, sounds positively out of this world.

Painstakingly recorded, mixed, and mastered, this album draws the listener into crystal-clear, extraordinary scenery, transcending the limitations of the modern secular existence. If there is a musical way to intuit Kant's ideas of the truly Sublime – this is it.

Cappella Clausura

Cappella Clausura
was founded by Amelia LeClair in 2004 to research, study and perform the music of women composers. Our twin goals are to bring engaging performances of this music to today’s audiences, and to help bring women composers into the classical canon. Our repertoire extends from the earliest known music by women, written in the middle ages, to the music of our own time. The core of the vocal ensemble is a group of eight-to-twelve singers who perform a cappella, with continuo, and with chamber orchestra, as the repertoire requires. Our singers are accomplished professionals who perform widely as soloists and ensemble musicians in Greater Boston and beyond; likewise, our instrumentalists are drawn from Boston’s superb pool of freelancers. We utilize period or modern instruments when appropriate to the repertoire.

Amelia LeClair
Resident Scholar at the Brandeis University Women’s Studies Research Center, received her Bachelor’s degree in Music Theory and Composition from UMass/Boston and her Master of Music in choral conducting from New England Conservatory, studying with Simon Carrington. She made her conducting debut in Boston’s Jordan Hall in March of 2002.

Her early interest in composition and conducting having been frustrated by the limited opportunities for women in these fields, Ms. LeClair was later inspired and motivated by the work of musicologists in the 1970s who dedicated themselves to researching the history of women in classical music, scholars such as Robert Kendrick, Craig Monson, Claire Fontijn, Candace Smith, Judith Tick, Jane Bowers, Liane Curtis, Ann Carruthers, and Laurie Monahan, to name just a few whose work had personal impact on LeClair. The work of these music historians and others led to the publication of the Grove Dictionary of Women Composers and dozens of other scholarly volumes and articles, and to the greater availability of source material and manuscripts.

With this impetus, in 2004, Amelia LeClair founded Cappella Clausura, an ensemble of voices and instruments specializing in music written by women from the 8th century to the present day. In addition to presenting many works by women of the medieval, renaissance, baroque and romantic eras, Cappella Clausura, under Ms. LeClair’s leadership, has presented and in many cases premiered music of our own time, from 20th century greats such as Rebecca Clarke to 21st century composers Hilary Tann, Patricia Van Ness, Abbie Betinis, Emma Lou Diemer, and many others.

Cappella Clausura and Amelia LeClair won the 2017 Chorus America’s ASCAP/AliceParker award for adventurous programming. In 2014, Ms. LeClair was appointed a Resident Scholar by the Brandeis University Women’s Studies Research Center. Ms. LeClair has been interviewed by Robin Morgan for Women’s Media Center Live; Robin Young of WBUR's HereandNow, and various local radio and TV hosts. Cappella Clausura has been featured frequently in the Boston Globe and other local news outlets. LeClair has presented on Cappella Clausura's performance of Hildegard von Bingen's Ordo Virtutum at the annual Medieval Studies Institute in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 2013.

In addition to her work with Clausura, Ms. LeClair has conducted workshops for the Syracuse Schola Cantorum, Concord’s Ars & Amici, and Greater Boston Choral Consortium. As a Brandeis Visiting Scholar, LeClair has presented lecture demonstrations at the Brandeis Women’s Studies Research Center and at Regis College. Currently, she serves as director of choirs at the Church of St Andrew in Marblehead, and director of Vermilion, a quartet singing a unique Unitarian Vespers service she created for the First Unitarian Society in Newton.

She is former director of Schola Nocturna, a compline choir at the Episcopal Parish of the Messiah in Newton, of Coro Stella Maris, a renaissance a cappella choir in Gloucester, and of the children's choirs for First Unitarian Society in Newton.

Amelia LeClair lives in Newton, Massachusetts with her husband Garrow Throop, an artist and graphic designer. Her daughter Julia, an Asia specialist who lived in China for five years, works for American University in Washington, D.C. Her son Nick, a classical guitarist, banjo picker and singer, lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Patricia Van Ness
Composer, violinist, and poet Patricia Van Ness draws upon elements of medieval and Renaissance music to create a signature voice that has been hailed by musicians, audiences, and critics. She has been called a modern-day Hildegard von Bingen 1,2, with her ability to compose music "ecstatic and ethereal," "both ancient and new" 2,3. As in medieval aesthetics, her music and poetry explore the relationship between beauty and the Divine.

Patricia Van Ness's work has had an impact that is both local and global. She is Staff Composer for First Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts (Peter Sykes, Music Director) and has been an invited lecturer at Harvard University and Boston University. Her music has been commissioned, premiered, and performed by numerous musicians and organizations throughout the world, including The King's Singers (UK), the Heidelberg New Music Festival Ensemble, Chanticleer, Mannerquartett Schnittpunktvokal (Austria), the Celebrity Series in Boston, the Spoleto Festival Orchestra, Peter Sykes, Coro Allegro, and the Harvard University Choir. Her work has been presented in Rome and Assisi in Italy; the Musica Sacra Festival in Maastricht, Holland; and in halls and cathedrals throughout Italy, Austria, Finland, Germany, Japan, Hong Kong, Puerto Rico, Sweden, Latin America, Canada, Latvia, Russia and the United States. She has been awarded residencies with the Boston Landmarks Orchestra and with Coro Allegro.

Ms. Van Ness is currently composing new music for each of the 150 Psalms. The texts are in English, Hebrew and Latin using the Psalter, the Hebrew Text, and the Liber Usualis. In 2015 she was commissioned by Cappella Clausura (Amelia Leclair, Director) to compose a multi-psalm concert piece; this resulted in Birds of the Psalms, a ten-movement work that was premiered May 2016. A live-in-concert CD of this premiere has been commercially released. In 2017 Coro Allegro (David Hodgkins, Artistic Director) commissioned a similar grouping for concert use: Psalms of Luminous Rescue, a ten-movement work, will be premiered in May of 2018 by Coro. Other organizations who have commissioned single psalms include the San Francisco Chapter of the American Guild of Organists and Amuse (NYC).

Ms. Van Ness has received numerous awards and grants, including the 2011 Daniel Pinkham Award from Coro Allegro (David Hodgkins, Artistic Director). Europe's prestigious 2005 Echo Klassik Prize was awarded to the ensemble Tapestry (Laurie Monahan, Director) for their recording "Sapphire Night" with music by Hildegard von Bingen and and a nine-movement work by Patricia Van Ness, and Chamber Music America awarded "Album of the Year" to Tapestry's The Fourth River, containing two of Van Ness's works.

Ms. Van Ness's music may be found on iTunes and other online stores; The King's Singers's From the Heart; Chanticleer's Sound in Spirit recorded on Warner Classics; on Telarc International Recordings's Angeli (Ensemble P.A.N). and The Fourth River (Tapestry); on MDG Classics's Sapphire Night (Tapestry); on Birds of the Psalms and Passionately Unconventional: Madrigals and Motets by Nuns of Bologna, Moderna, and Ferrara, Cappella Clausura (Amelia LeClair, Artistic Director);In the Clearing, and somewhere i have never traveled, Coro Allegro; on Parma Recordings's In Paradisum (In Paradise), Coro Allegro; on Sing the Glory! and Glorious the Song, The Harvard University Choir (Edward Elwyn Jones, Choirmaster); Albany Records' A Marvelous Love, Carson Cooman, organ; Passionately Unconventional: Madrigals and Motets by Nuns of Bologna, Moderna, and Ferrara, Cappella Clausura (Amelia LeClair, Artistic Director); and Advent and Other Music of the Liturgical Year, released by the composer. Her scores are available on her website ( My Heart is a Holy Place is published by The King's Singers Choral Series, distributed by the Hal Leonard Corporation and available here. Ms. Van Ness is a member of American Composers Forum, ASCAP, and the International Alliance for Women in Music. She is a former member of the Board of the Cambridge Society for Early Music and currently serves on the Musical Advisory Board of Cappella Clausura (Amelia LeClair, Artistic Director). She lives on the coast of Maine with her husband, Peter Marks.

This album contains no booklet.

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