The music of talented Perth composer, Helen MacKinnon, joins that of an international group of composers featured on a new album released on Friday 26 April.
Helen is a music composition graduate of The University of Glasgow and works with choirs and ensembles as a composer and arranger. Excitingly, she will see her award-winning piece for choir, Gloria in excelsis Deofeature, featured on the second volume of Works for Chorus released by American-based Navona Records. Eighteen months ago, Helen travelled to the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague to record the piece with European conductor Jiří Petrdlíkand Prague Mixed Chamber Choir.
Being part of the album is a great milestone in my early composing career.The album – Voices of Earth and Air Vol II- presents ‘the best that modern choral compositions have to offer’. Settings of traditional prayers are mingled with ethereal stories and otherworldly visions, and each of the eight compositions both stand unique and work together to create a collection that nods to the future of choral music.
Helen emerged as a professional composer just three years ago after a change in career, and is one of only two female composers featured on the album. The recording of Gloria in excelsis Deo has already picked up radio airplays in the States. The work featured on a classical music show ‘Music of our Mothers’ that exclusively broadcasts female composers throughout the centuries, where it was reviewed as ‘spectacular writing for voices’. The music will also feature on a classical station in the state of New York, with over 1.8million listeners, this week.
Helen’s setting of the Gloria has been performed across Europe and Asia. Written for a choral composition competition in Florence in 2015, the work was awarded by Academy Award-winning film composer Ennio Morricone. The work now features as part of the international Florence Choral Festivals where it is performed by choirs from across the globe each year.
Helen commented: “Being part of the album is a great milestone in my early composing career. It’s a beautiful collection of unique choral pieces, each selected and woven together with great care. I hope listeners will enjoy hearing a range of works by contemporary composers from around the world”.
The album is currently available to buy on Amazon: Voices of Earth & Air II>>
VOICES OF EARTH AND AIR 2 presents the best that modern choral compositions have to offer. Settings of traditional prayers are mingled with ethereal stories and otherworldly visions, and each of the eight compositions both stand unique and work together harmoniously to create a collection that nods to the future of choral music.
Scott Solak’s Ave Maria starts off the collection. Richly tonal and resonant, the piece is written in memory of the composer’s mother, a second generation Polish Catholic. Ave Maria is followed by Jonathan Little’s Crucifixus, another rich, vibrant work that presents modern interpretations of historic performance techniques and fills space with an all-encompassing listening experience.
Helen MacKinnon’s Gloria in Excelsis Deo demonstrates various moods throughout the piece, from tender to fiery and triumphant, all culminating in a glorious “Amen” to close the piece.
The album then shifts to L Peter Deutsch’s A Fisherman of the Inland Sea. With jagged intervals and interesting harmonies, and text by famed fantasy author Ursula K. LeGuin, the choir and a single narrator retell the melancholy story of a young fisherman's loss resulting from a tryst in a magical underwater kingdom.
Following this story is Juli Nunlist’s posthumously released Spells, an eerie, dissonant choral work that uses subtle recurrences to create an enveloping form. Daniel Morse’s Nachtlied is an otherworldly soundscape that uses the writings of Austrian Expressionist poet Georg Trakl. Creating a sense of ritual, the otherworldliness is amplified by the use of electronic sounds created through manipulating pre-existing audio.
Peter Greve’s invocation for organ and mixed choir, Give Us Peace, is made up of four expressions of peace from four religious traditions. It follows a narrative arc of joy within communities, followed by violence and destruction, and finally a reconciliation and expression of peace between four different ideas.
The album concludes with Whitman Brown’s Psalm 23, a final return to sacred texts that creates a powerful bookend to the collection. Reverent and soothing, it gives a sense of conclusion to the journey of VOICES OF EARTH AND AIR 2.
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