Listeners in the Drivers Seat

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Sunday, May 06, 2012

Keys in the Ignition (Alex E. Proimos/flickr)

A couple weeks ago, we aired an episode called “The Best Music You Hardly Know”.  We asked listeners what their favorite neglected pieces were.  And boy, did we receive a lot of comments.  We found that you really know your choral music!  You had a lot of suggestions for us.  So, on this weekend's episode, it’s your show. We let you take the wheel. 



We start our listener-driven episode with Verdi’s Ave Maria. Known for his dramatic opera writing, Verdi produced an exquisite choral setting of the famous text. The chromatic shifts build intensity along with the dynamic vocal range, all requiring great technique.

Another piece suggested by one of you was a work from a Pulitzer Prize winner and American composer who lives right here in New York City, Charles Peter Wuorinen. You'll hear the first movement, Invocation, from his work Genesis. It’s a large oratorio, and we play a version with the Minnesota Chorale & Minnesota Orchestra led by Edo de Waart.

A lot of your web comments included interest in 20th century American composers. One in particular was William Duckworth’s Southern Harmony. It’s a minimalistic work composed in 1981, and named after a popular tune book for churches and schools.

Other suggestions that jumped out at us were the Mass setting Missa Egue Bone by the English Renaissance composer Christopher Tye, Schoenberg’s Dreimal Tausend Jahre, Samuel Barber’s Prayers of Kierkegaard, and Kodaly’s Jesus and the Traders.

Thanks to everyone who sent suggestions on these rarely performed works.  Keep them coming!



Verdi/ Ave Maria/Ave Sol Chamber Choir, Imants Kokars

Ave Maria


Wuorinen/ Genesis/ Minnesota Chorale & Minnesota Orchestra, Edo de Waart



Duckworth/ An American Collage/ Rooke Chapel Choir, William Payn

Southern Harmony:

War Department



The Turtle Dove


Tye/ Missa "Euge Bone"/ Ely Cathedral Choir, Paul Trepte

Agnus Dei


Schoenberg/ Schoenberg: Choral Works/ Accentus, Laurence Equilbey

Dreimal Tausend Jahre


Barber/ Prayers of Kierkegaard/ Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, Robert Shaw

O Thou Who Art Unchangeable

Father in Heaven. Well we know it is thou

Father in Heaven! Hold not our sins up against us.


Kodály/ Missa Brevis/ Danish National Radio Choir, Stefan Parkman

Jesus and the Traders

Comments [6]

Michael Meltzer

Milhaud: The Two Cities

May. 06 2012 11:08 PM
david dunkle from OKC

I haven't heard the Kodâly "Jesus..." since I heard it live, in the spring of 1972, my freshman yr. at Oberlin.
Sung by the Oberlin Coll. Choir, a group of ca. 55-60, led by one of the most demanding & terrifying choral conductors of the 20th c., Robert Fountain. All concerts sung from memory. Most of the choir were non-music majors: physics, chemistry, medieval history, art history, Chinese language, Judaic studies, Russian, etc..
Up to that time I had never heard a choir of that size sing that loudly. It practically pealed the paint off the walls. Ear-splitting, but not screaming.
On the same program was Schoenberg's "Friede auf Erden", exquisitely sung and miraculously tuned.
Great Kodâly piece. Glad to hear it again after decades!

May. 06 2012 09:15 PM
david dunkle from OKC, OK

I was thrilled to the bone by Kent's choosing of 3 of my favorites, all of which I have conducted:
The Verdi, in New London CT, in 1972 and in Cleve. OH in the late 70s.
The Tye in Pennsylania in 1993; and for midnight Mass at St. Monica's, Upper East Side of Manhattan, 1988.
And the Schoenberg at an Oberlin Collegium Musicum concert, 1985, entitled "Jerusalem & the Eternal Return" ('Wiederkehr', the last word of Schoenberg's piece!!). Our music spanned from Leonin Magister, ca. 1200, to Schoenberg & Ernst Krenek (his Lamentations of Jeremiah).
Thank you for this wonderful program, which I accidentally partially designed! I'm on Cloud Nine/

May. 06 2012 08:26 PM
david dunkle from OKC, OK

Beautiful, poetic way of praising the exquisite Verdi piece. Impressive, meaningful syntax to describe what we humans all hear in this quietly sublime piece of writing!
Thank you.
Tears come to your eyes when you hear a piece of music described thusly.
I think we heard a particularly sympathetic performance of Verdi's unusual but touching setting of this familiar text!

May. 06 2012 07:56 PM
Susan Brown from NYC

Not sure how to make suggestions for future programs, but here are two:
Hindemith, Apparebit Repentina Dies
Brahms Fest und Gedenspruche (double chorus motets)

So glad you're giving choral music a voice!

May. 06 2012 08:06 AM
Gary Ekman from Manhattan NYC

As I write this at 7:05 a.m., the clouds which have socked in Manhattan for the last few days are slowly parting over Central Park, patches of blue sky can be glimpsed, and the heavenly strains of Verdi's Ave Maria are filling my living room. If there's a heaven on earth this must be it.

I'm humbled by the number of names of composers in this list that I've never even heard of. So much to learn. And so much choral music to look forward to.

May. 06 2012 07:04 AM

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