Friday, December 26, 2014
The Westminster Choir's new recording, “The Heart’s Reflection: Music of Daniel Elder,” continues to earn critical praise. Minnesota Public Radio's Classical Music Blog described the recording as "simply astounding," and Classics Today hailed it as "First Rate and Highly Recommended."
A winner of the prestigious Abbey Road Studios Anthem Competition, Daniel Elder and his music have garnered accolades from some of today’s leading choral composers. Eric Whitacre has praised his “extraordinary talent,” and Simon Carrington has described his work as "a breath of fresh air.”
National Medal of the Arts recipient Morten Lauridsen has said of the recording: “This new recording of his works, excellently sung by the acclaimed Westminster Choir conducted by Maestro Joe Miller, showcases a wide variety of Elder's work on a diverse collection of texts, each displaying his deft craftsmanship and imaginative text setting.”
“One of the hallmarks of the Westminster Choir is to promote new American choral works,” says conductor Joe Miller. “The burgeoning development of the choral art in the United States has begun to stimulate the imagination of composers adept at giving voice to new and exciting choral repertoire. Daniel's music sparked my imagination, and I knew the Westminster Choir would express its deep connection with joy and passion. These compositions have a way of striking the heart of the listener, and audiences have responded with enthusiasm when we sing Daniel’s music in concert.”
“To be able to demonstrate in a universally understood language the emotions that link us all is a powerful way to communicate,” says Elder. “In this album I attempt to present though a wide-ranging spectrum of color and sound this central ideal.”
The recording includes settings for choir and percussion of three poems by the 13th-century Persian mystic and poet Rumi. “InYour Light explores one of the most joyful of Rumi's poems and expresses it musically in a churning statement of pure ecstasy,” Elder says about one track. “Just as Rumi's works are at once erotic and full of an earthy humanity, the use of percussion accompaniment aids in placing Rumi's words in an appropriately passionate tone of expression and gives the music a raw, ethnic feel that expresses the full depth and height of this inherent joy.”
Hailed by American Record Guide as “the gold standard of American academic choirs,” the Westminster Choir is composed of students at Westminster Choir College, a division of Rider University’s Westminster College of the Arts, in Princeton, N.J. It has been the chorus-in-residence for the prestigious Spoleto Festival USA since 1977, performing both in concert and as the opera chorus. Praised by The New York Times for its “full-bodied, incisive singing,” the Westminster Choir also forms the core of the Westminster Symphonic Choir, which has performed and recorded with the leading conductors and orchestras of our time. The ensemble’s 2013-2014 season includes a concert tour of Texas and Oklahoma, performances and broadcasts in Princeton, and its annual residency at the Spoleto Festival USA.
In addition to serving as conductor of the Westminster Choir and the Westminster Symphonic Choir, Joe Miller is artistic director for choral activities for the Spoleto Festival USA. He is also founder and conductor of the Westminster Chamber Choir, a program that offers professional-level choral and vocal artists the opportunity to explore challenging works for two weeks each summer, and conductor of the Westminster Summer Choral Festival. “The Heart’s Reflection: Music of Daniel Elder” is Maestro Miller’s third recording with the Westminster Choir.
As a writer of choral, vocal, and instrumental music, Daniel Elder ties these genres together to create forms and aesthetics that are at once lyrical and textural, with inspirations widely drawn from the contrapuntal roots of early sacred music through the adventurous and programmatic nature of early twentieth-century genres. Critics have hailed his works as “deeply affecting,” with emotional evocations ranging from lush lyricism to jagged polyphony.
“The Heart’s Reflection: Music of Daniel Elder,” is available on Amazon.com and iTunes.
Comments about The Heart’s Reflection: Music of Daniel Elder
I first heard Daniel Elder's choral compositions during a recent visit to Westminster Choir College and was delighted to discover a very gifted composer who writes vibrant and vocally effective settings for chorus.
This new recording of his works, excellently sung by the acclaimed Westminster Choir conducted by Maestro Joe Miller, showcases a wide variety of Elder's work on a diverse collection of texts, each displaying his deft craftsmanship and imaginative text setting.
Mr. Elder's output is sure to be welcomed enthusiastically by the choral community and this recording will certainly be a splendid introduction to his impressive work.
-- Morten Lauridsen
Recipient, 2007 National Medal of Arts
Distinguished Professor of Composition, USC Thornton School of Music
Daniel, Congratulations! You have an extraordinary talent. Your passion and true musicianship is invaluable to your incredible creative process.
-- Eric Whitacre
Composer & Conductor
Daniel Elder’s compositions are a breath of fresh air through contemporary choral writing: exquisite word setting, imaginative textures, superb voicing, elegant and effective use of counterpoint.
I was delighted that he won my own choir’s composition competition this year with his beautifully wrought setting of “O magnum mysterium” and I am also greatly looking forward to conducting his “Seven Last Words” in Europe next season.
I am thrilled that Joe Miller and Westminster Choir have recorded an entire CD dedicated to Daniel’s music, a wonderful tribute to an exciting new composer.
-- Simon Carrington
Professor Emeritus, Yale University
Co-Founder, The King’s Singers