Sing Freedom!: African-American Spirituals

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Eddins
Performances of African-American spirituals by predominantly white choirs in what conductor Craig Hella Johnson calls "choral art arrangements" can be dicey affairs; it's not common to hear a choir so free from the constraints of the written notes that it can soar with the kind of passion and spirit the music requires. Even so, spirituals are so durable they can make a powerful impact even in less-than-ideal performances, but it's a special pleasure to hear them sung as freely and intensely and beautifully as they are here by Conspirare's Company of Voices, led by Johnson. The singers maintain exceptionally pure and focused tone even when they are sliding and bending ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Eddins
Performances of African-American spirituals by predominantly white choirs in what conductor Craig Hella Johnson calls "choral art arrangements" can be dicey affairs; it's not common to hear a choir so free from the constraints of the written notes that it can soar with the kind of passion and spirit the music requires. Even so, spirituals are so durable they can make a powerful impact even in less-than-ideal performances, but it's a special pleasure to hear them sung as freely and intensely and beautifully as they are here by Conspirare's Company of Voices, led by Johnson. The singers maintain exceptionally pure and focused tone even when they are sliding and bending pitches. Most of the pieces have solo parts that are sung with assurance and idiomatic sensitivity. One of the strengths of the album is the diversity of the repertoire and the arrangements. About half the tracks are well-known songs and about half are likely to be new to general audiences. There's a healthy selection of traditional, familiar arrangements by Moses Hogan, William Dawson, Wendell Whalum, Alice Parker, and Robert Shaw. Several are presented in new versions by David Lang, Tarik O'Regan, and Johnson himself, who are among the strongest and most distinctive choral composers of the early 21st century, and there are original works by Kirby Shaw and Robert Kyr, and these new versions and songs really make the album stand out. Lang, Johnson, and especially O'Regan make some daring departures from tradition in their arrangements, but they are gripping; O'Regan's serenely understated setting of "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" is a real ear-opener. The new works are hugely effective. Kirby Shaw's "Plenty of Room On the Glory Train" is traditional enough to sound like an authentic spiritual and Kyr's "Freedom Song" is hypnotically dazzling in its wild abandon. The sound of Harmonia Mundi's SACD is terrific: clean, warm, and immediate.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 9/13/2011
  • Label: Harmonia Mundi Fr.
  • UPC: 093046752569
  • Catalog Number: 807525
  • Sales rank: 92,611

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Conspirare Primary Artist, Choir, Chorus
David Farwig Bass (Vocal)
Rick Gabrillo Percussion
Melissa Givens Soprano (Vocal)
Craig Hella Johnson Piano, Conductor
Nina Revering Soprano (Vocal)
Keely Rhodes Alto (Vocal)
Tracy Shirk Tenor (Vocal)
Matt Alber Tenor (Vocal)
Cameron Beauchamp Bass (Vocal)
Sonja DuToit Tengblad Soprano (Vocal)
Julie Keim Soprano (Vocal)
Matthew Tresler Tenor (Vocal)
Carr Hornbuckle Tenor (Vocal)
Stefanie Moore Soprano (Vocal)
Gitamjali Mathur Soprano (Vocal)
Wendy Bloom Alto (Vocal)
Charles Wesley Evans Bass (Vocal)
Abigail Lennox Soprano (Vocal)
Nicole Greenidge Soprano (Vocal)
Technical Credits
Michael Tippett Arranger
Brad Michel Engineer
Robina G. Young Producer
David Lang Arranger
Moses Hogan Arranger
Alice Parker Arranger
Wendell Whalum Arranger
Kirby Shaw Composer
Geneviève Begou Text Translation
Karin Elsener Graphic Design, Illustrations
Craig Hella Johnson Arranger, Liner Notes
Tarik O'Regan Arranger
James Weldon Johnson Poetry
Robert Shaw Arranger
Ingeborg Neumann Text Translation
Robert Kyr Composer, Text
Leonard de Paur Arranger
William L. Dawson Arranger
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