Classical Album of the Week: Folk Songs, Whitacre, Laurisden, and More from the St. Charles Singers

Nov 27, 2019

November 18, 2019. American Reflections, our Classical Album of the Week, has humble and typically American beginnings. The St. Charles Singers is a group of vocalists based in St. Charles, Illinois. It has four CDs to its name. The fifth was the result of the enthusiasm of the Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley, which awarded a $6,500 grant to help pay for the choir’s current album of American choral works.

The album features traditional folk songs such as “Shenandoah” and “Long Time Ago” works by contemporary composers Eric Whitacre and Morten Lauridsen, and arrangements of songs by Shaun Kirchner, including "Unclouded Day."

The choir, directed by Jeffrey Hunt, arranges the music according to themes, such as Water, Oppression, Hope, and Love.

The St. Charles Singers recorded American Reflections during its June 2017 concert tour of six historic English cathedrals. "These locations offered magnificent acoustics for performing and recording these choral gems," said Kay Kendall, the choir's executive director."We wanted to share this experience with choral music enthusiasts in the community, across the U.S., and beyond. The album's centerpiece is Dominick Argento's "Walden Pond," from 1996, a sublime five-song cycle for chorus, three cellos, and harp. It's a virtuosic, evocative work inspired by Henry David Thoreau's "Walden," his classic meditation on nature and self-reliance."

Listen to "Shenandoah" and more here:

Songs on the album include:

Traditional American Folk Song
Arranged by James Erb (1926-2014)
SHENANDOAH

Traditional American Folk Song
Adapted by Aaron Copland (1900-1990) | Transcribed by Irving Fine (1914-1962)
LONG TIME AGO

Dominick Argento (b.1927)
Text by Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)
WALDEN POND
I. The Pond
II. Angling
III. Observing
IV. Extolling
V. Walden Revisited

Eric Whitacre (b.1970)
Original Spanish text by Octavio Paz (1914-1998)
WATER NIGHT

Morten Lauridsen (b.1943)
Text by Rainer Maria Rilke (1874-1926)
DIRAIT-ON

Traditional
Arranged by Edward T. Chapman (1902-1981)
SHE’S LIKE THE SWALLOW

Robert Lowry (1826-1899)
Arranged by William Hawley (b.1950)
BEAUTIFUL RIVER

Traditional
Arranged by Stacy Gibbs (b.1964)
GREAT GOD ALMIGHTY

Jake Runestad (b.1986)
Text by Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906)
WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

Traditional Shaker Song
Arranged by Kevin Siegfried (b.1969)
I HUNGER AND THIRST

Josiah Kelley Alwood (1828-1909)
Arranged by Shawn Kirchner (b.1970)
UNCLOUDED DAY

Traditional Appalachian Song
Arranged by Shawn Kirchner