Fanfare

This album is structured like a number of choral concerts of the present day: a variety of single pieces, with styles and centuries interleaved. When done well (as it is here), the result is a very enjoyable listening experience.

The pieces on this album are primarily psalm settings. Several other works are arrangements of traditional African American spirituals (and one Stephen Foster song),and one is a setting from the Book of Revelation. The booklet notes state that the idea was to show a kind of “enlarged” psalm tradition across the eras. The contemporary composers and arrangers include some names well known in current choral circles (Carol Barnett, Eriks Ešenvalds, Craig Hella Johnson, Moses Hogan) alongside some names that are less familiar (Ily Matthew Maniano, Galina Grigorjeva, Peter Bannister). Five of the psalm settings (Bryars, Ešenvalds, Grigorjeva, Bannister, and Kellogg) were commissioned by the SDG Music Foundation (an organization focusing on commissioning new sacred music) as part of their “Psalms Project.” Cor Cantiamo is a professional choir in residence at Northern Illinois University.

Conductor Eric A. Johnson is director of choral activities at NIU and founded this group to specialize in contemporary music. Attractive performances of attractive pieces all around.

—Carson Cooman