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The main feature of this new CD is the world premiere recording of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Jennifer Higdon’s new violin concerto with chorus entitled “The Singing Rooms”. Also receiving its debut on disc is Alvin Singleton’s “PraiseMaker” for chorus and orchestra, and the album concludes with Scriabin’s exotic and powerful “Poem of Ecstasy”. The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus are conducted by Robert Spano.
American composer Jennifer Higdon was born in 1962, and since the 2002 premiere of her Concerto for Orchestra has been much in demand. The piece was recorded on Telarc, (CD80620), by Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. “The Singing Rooms”, a violin concerto with an equally important part for chorus, was sparked by a request from violinist Jennifer Koh, for whom Higdon had previously composed a sonata with piano called String Poetic in 2006. The piece is part of a commissioning consortium with The Philadelphia Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Minnesota Orchestra. For the poems Higdon turned to a colleague, Jeanne Minahan, who teaches creative writing and literature at the Curtis Institute.
American composer Alvin Singleton has resided in Atlanta since 1985, when at Robert Shaw’s request he became Composer-in-Residence of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra for three years [1985-88]. “PraiseMaker” was commissioned by the Cincinnati May Festival in celebration of its 125th anniversary. James Conlon conducted the first performance on May 22, 1998, with the Festival Chorus and Orchestra. Writing for this important choral festival, the composer requested an original text from Susan Kouguell, with whom he previously collaborated on The World Is Here with Me for Spelman College.
Alexander Scriabin’s symphonic work “The Poem of Ecstasy” began about 1903 as a long prose poem that Scriabin felt would interpret his philosophy to a world hungry for enlightenment. The work is in one long movement, reflecting a succession of emotions from yearning, to striving, and finally fulfilment.
“Robert Shaw's legacy in Atlanta of choral excellence is evident in these two premieres of works by composers with strong connections to that city's symphony and chorus...Spano focuses on forward motion and lucid textures - no mean feat in a work [the Scriabin] whose essential static nature can often sag.”
“Higdon's The Singing Rooms is a radical mix of concerto and oratorio whose idiom is remarkable for its extreme inoffensiveness...Scriabin's purely orchestral Poeme is the unexpected climax...These are expertly prepared performances, as is usual with Robert Spano and his orchestra.”
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