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Album at a Glance

Tonal and ConsonantChoir
Delos Music Record Label - Delos: “Greek mythology tells us that Apollo set out from the island of Delos every morning with his lyre in hand, bringing light, music and healing to the world. We at Delos share the awareness that our world needs the balm of music.”
Release date: 2013-01-29

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Hymn to the Dawn – the Etherea Vocal Ensemble

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The diverse choral music of Holst, Prokofiev, Beach, Rheinberger, Mendelssohn and Rossini makes for a very enjoyable program, sung by the seven women and one countertenor of the Etherea Vocal Ensemble. These eight young singers are led by their artistic director Derek Greten-Harrison on a Delos CD titled "Hymn to the Dawn". With only eight singers, and several of the works sung by a portion of that number, each voice is very exposed. Singers must perform flawlessly, as they do here, both as soloist and as part of the ensemble. It's a pleasure to be treated to such clear and gorgeous singing.

The music is not only beautifully sung, but also thoughtfully programmed. It seems to me to be in three parts. For the first, a harp plays a prominent role, followed by a middle section of a cappella singing and concluding with the choir accompanied by piano or organ. The program opens with two rarely performed works by Gustav Holst, the Choral Hymns from the Rig Veda and Two Eastern Pictures. Harpist Grace Cloutier, who is a wonderful musician, accompanies the Holst, then provides a brief interlude with a Prokofiev Prelude to be followed by Amy Beach's Three Shakespeare Choruses. In the Beach, the choir is reduced to a quartet, and every line and word is crystal clear. The middle a cappella section is music from the romantic period: songs by Josef Rheinberger and motets of Mendelssohn. In a stylistic departure from the rest of the program, the album concludes with Trois choeurs religieux for women's chorus and piano by Rossini. Not profound, but sunny and sweetly sung, reminiscent at times of the great composer's operatic choruses.

The Mendelssohn motets were recorded in Christ Church, New Haven and the rest of the tracks in the Marquand Chapel, Yale Divinity School. It is all recorded in impressive sound from the California based record label Delos, who in 2013, can be congratulated on their 40th anniversary.