Meredith Monk: Songs of Ascension

Meredith Monk: Songs of Ascension

by Meredith Monk


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Meredith Monk: Songs of Ascension

Meredith Monk's "Songs of Ascension" is made up of 21 relatively short movements for ensembles of voices or instruments or combinations of both, in groupings as straightforward as a string quartet and as complex as the mix of 12 virtuoso vocal soloists, strings, bass clarinet, and percussion. The unity of the material may not be apparent on first hearing, but Monk helps orient the listener with her titles; there are three related movements with the title "Clusters," four with "Variations" (one for each season), two with "Strand," and a "Mapping" and "Mapping Continued." In his insightful program notes, Kyle Gann comments that Monk's music sounds "not avant-garde, but ancient… not minimalist but like an invented folk tradition," and that Monk herself "sounds less like the sophisticated New York composer she is than like a shaman, some Druid priestess… whose music has somehow come down to us in a miraculous state of preservation." That imagery does certainly capture something of the intensely evocative, primordial quality that makes Monk's music so distinctive. It is potent testimony to the fertility of her imagination that even after a very productive lifetime of exploring non-traditional uses of the voice, she continues to astonish and dazzle with new vocal sounds, nowhere more evident than in her solo, "Fathom," the CD's penultimate track. The album was recorded in a studio, but Songs of Ascension was conceived and created as a site-specific work, to be performed on the staircase of an eight-story circular tower in Sonoma, CA, designed by artist Ann Hamilton. Something may have been lost in transferring the piece from its original, unique sonic environment, but what's added is the massed power of the Montclair State University Singers, who bring an awesome monumentality to the final movement. Monk also marshals a broad range of new music virtuosi: the members of her own ensemble, the singers of the M6, and the Todd Reynolds Quartet. Produced by ECM's legendary Manfred Eicher, the album's sound is immaculate, warm, and immediate. Highly recommended, especially for Monk's fans and anyone who loves innovative vocal music.

Product Details

Release Date: 05/17/2011
Label: Ecm Records
UPC: 0028947643074
catalogNumber: 001556902
Rank: 114859

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Meredith Monk   Primary Artist,Vocals,Shruti Box
Katie Geissinger   Vocals,Shruti Box
John Hollenbeck   Percussion,Vocals,Shruti Box
Todd Reynolds   Violin
Ching Gonzalez   Vocals,Shruti Box
Sasha Bogdanowitsch   Vocals
Courtney Orlando   Violin,Vocals
Nadia Sirota   Viola,Vocals
Bohdan Hilash   Bass Clarinet,Saxophone,Alto Saxophone,Khaen,Shruti Box
Todd Reynolds String Quartet   String Quartet
Ellen Fisher   Vocals,Shruti Box
Toby Newman   Vocals
Allison Sniffin   Vocals,Shruti Box
Peter Sciscioli   Vocals
Bruce Rameker   Vocals,Shruti Box
Ha-Yang Kim   Cello,Vocals
Sidney Chen   Vocals
Montclair State University Singers   Choir, Chorus,Vocal Ensemble
M6 Voices   Ensemble,Vocal Ensemble
Heather J. Buchanan   Conductor
Meredith Monk Vocal Ensemble   Vocal Ensemble
Holly Nadal   Vocals
Emily Eagen   Vocals

Technical Credits

Meredith Monk   Composer
Manfred Eicher   Producer
James Farber   Engineer
Paul Zinman   Engineer
Kyle Gann   Liner Notes
Marion Gray   Cover Photo
Bohdan Hilash   Composer
Mieke van Hoek   Composer

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