Set me as a Seal, arguably the composer’s best-known work, has long been popular in the concert repertoire. Clausen has described the work as ‘various kinds of discussions between God and humans, both from the human aspect and from the God aspect, so a lot of variations… of love, of disappointment, of anxiety, of doubt.’ All that hath life and breath is one of Clausen’s earliest works, and a favorite of choirs across the world.
The Mass for Double Choir was commissioned by the Kansas City and Phoenix Chorales. The composer, who had never written a mass before, looked on it as an ‘interesting challenge’. In the work emotions ebb and flow kaleidoscopically, taking the listener from the strength of the unison writing at the opening, to the sorrowful falling lines of the Crucifixion of Christ and the bubbling, dancing figures for the Resurrection. Expressions of praise spill forward atop one another in the Sanctus, a choir of angels too exuberant to be contained. In contrast, Prayer sets Mother Teresa’s gentle words with long arching phrases and gentle dissonances.
Other pieces featured on the recording include the popular All that hath Life and Breath, O Magnum Mysterium, The Tyger, The Lamb, Magnificat and O Vos Omnes.
One of the most admired choral conductors in the United States, the Grammy Award winning conductor Charles Bruffy (b. 1958) began his career as a tenor soloist, performing with the Robert Shaw Festival Singers in recordings and in concerts in France and in Carnegie Hall, New York. Shaw encouraged his development as a conductor and in 1996, he was asked by National Public Radio to help celebrate Shaw’s eightieth birthday with an on-air tribute. In 1999, The New York Times named him as the late, great conductor’s potential heir, and in 2005 the magazine Fanfare called him ‘one of the next big things in American choral music’. He has been Artistic Director of the Kansas City Chorale since 1988 and the Phoenix Chorale since 1999, as well as Chorus Director for the Kansas City Symphony since 2008. Respected and renowned for his fresh and passionate interpretations of standards of the choral music repertoire and for championing new music, Charles Bruffy has commissioned and premiered works by composers such as Ola Gjeilo, Matthew Harris, Libby Larsen, Zhou Long, Stephen Paulus, Stephen Sametz, Steven Stucky, Eric Whitacre, and Chen Yi. Under his supervision the Roger Dean Company, a division of the Lorenz Corporation, publishes a choral series specialising in music for professional ensembles and sophisticated high school and college choirs. His eclectic discography includes seven recordings for Chandos Records.
Founded in 1982, the Kansas City Chorale is a professional vocal ensemble that enriches local, national, and international communities through its dedication to excellence in the performance of music from diverse historical periods. Along with the Phoenix Chorale, it is the first North American choir to record for Chandos Records, and made its first appearance on the label with Eternal Rest (2006). A second joint recording with the Phoenix Chorale, of Grechaninov’s Passion Week (2007), received Grammy nominations in four categories, including Best Classical Album, Best Choral Performance, and Best Surround Sound Album, winning in the category Best Engineered Album, Classical. A third joint recording with the Phoenix Chorale, a disc of sacred choral works by Josef Rheinberger (2008), received Grammy nominations for Best Choral Performance and Best Surround Sound Album. Audiences around the globe have enjoyed the sounds of the Kansas City Chorale through recordings and radio broadcasts. In 2009, the Kansas City Chorale performed at the Incheon International Choral Festival in South Korea, and made its New York debut, with the Phoenix Chorale, in Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center. The New York Times referred to the ‘refined sound and elegant phrasing’ of the choirs, as well as their ‘vivid intensity’, praising the performance for its ‘buoyant pulse and energetic finesse’.
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