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Jake RUNESTAD (b. 1986)
Sing, Wearing The Sky
The Secret of the Sea [11:40]
Alleluia [3:34]
Let My Love Be Heard [5:36]
Sing, Wearing the Sky [5:24]
Live the Questions [4:51]
We Can Mend the Sky [8:07]
Fear Not, Dear Friend [7:03]
Proud Music of the Storm [10:00]
I Will Lift Mine Eyes [4:32]
Ner Ner [4:01]
Kantorei/Joel Rinsema
rec. May 2019 at Saint John’s Cathedral, Denver, USA
Texts included
NAXOS 8.559892 [65:20]

Jake Runestad is a talented and prolific young composer based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He has written music for opera, wind band, orchestra, and chamber ensembles, and this is his second album of all-choral compositions. Kantorei is an all-volunteer 52-member mixed chorus from Denver, Colorado, under the direction of Artistic Director Joel M. Rinsema. Kantorei has been active since 1997, and the group frequently tours and performs at major choral events. This is their sixth album of choral works.

The Secret of the Sea, written in 2018, is the first and longest piece on the album. The chorus and orchestral ensemble beautifully capture the moods of the sea, from peacefully calm to clashing, swirling and wildly turbulent. The libretto is derived from works by Walt Whitman, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Hilda Doolittle, and Ingluik shaman Uvanuk. Kantorei is an outstanding choir, and has excellent ensemble balance, fine intonation and musical expression, and a high level of energy. Proud Music of the Storm was written in 2017, inspired by the Walt Whitman poem. Pianist Mac Merchant accompanies the choir as the sections open with bold and invigorating polyphonic chords and tempos, and follow with slow and melodic passages. Sing, Wearing the Sky is a delightful number with a melody and rhythm reminiscent of 14th century India. It is led by the alto and soprano sections and features mezzo-soprano Kali Paguirigana, violinist Sarah Whitnall, percussionist Rachel Hargroder, and pianist Mac Merchant. The song Live the Questions, written in 2016, is a slow and poetic piece, deep and searching. It was composed using the text of a letter about the questions of life. Let My Love Be Heard is another fine choral number, beginning softly and delicately and slowing building to a soaring climax, before returning home. The lyrics are the text from A Prayer, written by Alfred Noyes. My favorite number on this disc is I Will Lift Mine Eyes, composed in 2006 to Psalms 121. It is a well-constructed and joyous piece of music, elegantly performed, and the lyrics are first-rate.

Bruce McCollum

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