rothko chapel: morton feldman, erik satie, john cage
Released in October of 2015, the Houston Chamber Choir's latest recording has taken the classical music world by storm. Entitled Rothko Chapel: Morton Feldman, Erik Satie, John Cage, the album is a collaborative effort with Grammy-Award winning artist Kim Kashkashian, Da Camera of Houston with Artistic Director Sarah Rothenberg, percussionist Steven Schick, and the Houston Chamber Choir conducted by Robert Simpson. The album was produced by Grammy-Award winner Judith Sherman, and was released on the legendary ECM label.
The recording has received stellar international reviews from AllMusic.com (an "editor's choice" pick), The Chicago Tribune (one of The "Best Classical Recordings of 2015"), The Guardian (five out of five stars), The Independent (five out of five stars), All About Jazz and others. It also received 4 stars from Financial Times, London. They state, “Kim Kashkashian, Sarah Rothenberg, Steven Schick, and The Houston Chamber Choir conducted by Robert Simpson hold stillness in their hands.”
soft blink of amber light
Soft Blink of Amber Light is the Houston Chamber Choir’s third commercial release on the MSR Classics label, and presents performances of commissions and premieres by some of the nation’s leading composers: Christopher Theofanidis, David Ashley White, Jocelyn Hagen, Dominick DiOrio, and Wayne Oquin.
The album’s title work soft blink of amber light, by Minnesota composer Jocelyn Hagen, is an introspective and colorful meditation on poetry by Julia Klatt Singer, written for choir and a small instrumental ensemble of flute, clarinet, piano, and marimba. Other works on the recording include Christopher Theofanidis’ Messages to Myself, a dynamic collection of a cappella settings of poetry by Whitman, Rūmī, Kirsten, and Yeats; David Ashley White’s The Blue Estuaries, a collection of expressive settings of poetry by Louise Bogan; and Wayne Oquin’s setting of O Magnum Mysterium. The album closes with Dominick DiOrio’s virtuosic work for choir and marimba A Dome of Many-coloured Glass. Written as a cantata-concerto, DiOrio’s work sets to music poetry by Amy Lowell.
Click here to listen to a 'Houston Matters' broadcast on KUHF 88.7 from October 22nd, 2015 discussing Soft Blink of Amber Light with Houston Chamber Choir Founder and Artistic Director, Robert Simpson.
psalmi ad vesperas (1694)
Experience the splendor of late 17th-century sacred music in northern Italy with this world premiere recording. Giovanni Paolo Colonna's monumental Vespers were composed in 1694 for a grand festival at the Basilica of St. Petronio in Bologna. This dramatic piece was hidden away for centuries in the archives of Westminster Abbey and the Central Library of Zürich, and has only recently come to light. The Houston Chamber Choir's performance of the work in the fall of 2011 was the first in modern times.
The Houston Chamber Choir, under the direction of Robert Simpson, has produced an album that showcases the little-known area of Russian secular choral music. That the secular choral music of Russia receives less attention from performers than its sacred counterpart can be explained by the fact that sacred titles outnumber the secular by a ratio of approximately 80 to 20. Yet many of the composers who are best known for their sacred choral works, e.g. Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Kalinnikov, and others, wrote lovely secular part-songs as well, as this album demonstrates. Others, such as Arensky, Cui, Dargomyzhsky, and Taneyev, are known primarily for their secular choruses, which deserve a great deal more attention than they've received to this time. Finally, the album taps the unexplored wealth of Soviet-era choral songs (represented by Salmanov, Falik, and Gavrilin), written during a time when sacred music was severely suppressed.