Eric Whitacre: Choral Music

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Eric Whitacre is as close to a rock star as a composer of choral music will probably ever get. At a recent Carnegie Hall concert, screaming girls and camera flashes greeted his entrance on stage before a 425-member chorus, which premiered his musical theater work Paradise Lost. Whitacre’s Lux aurumuque, comprised of 185 spliced together videos recorded and posted on Youtube, became a viral hit, with more than a million views to date. The handsome, charismatic 40-year-old recently signed a deal with Decca and has a busy touring schedule as a conductor through the next several seasons.


This week’s Full Rotation selection offers some clues to Whitacre's popularity. The Elora Festival Singers, one of Canada's finest professional choirs, present eleven of his most popular works based on a mix of sacred and secular texts from Rumi, Octavio Paz, e. e. cummings, the Bible and Charles Anthony Silvestri. The pieces are as much about atmosphere as music.

His sonic alchemy can be heard in the opening Her Sacred Spirit Soars, a shimmering, Impressionistic score with swelling lines and harmonies that fluctuate between great tension and release. Whitacre can make a simple and ear-catching statement like the two-and-a-half minute This Marriage (based on a Rumi poem), just as he can build a large choral edifice like the wrenching, 13-minute When David Heard that Absalom Was Slain. While at times his music comforts like a warm sonic bath, it can surprise, as in Little Birds, which brings crunchy tone clusters and hints of Messiaen birdsong along to a text by Octavio Paz. Leonardo Dreams of His Flying Machine is another fascinating work that suggests Renaissance madrigals by way of British composer John Tavener.

One drawback of the recording is the lack of texts, especially when the words are often hard to make out in the first place (printed lyrics are available online, however). Nevertheless, conductor Noel Edison brings judicious pacing to each of the selections on this fine introduction to this one-of-a-kind composer.

Eric Whitacre: Choral Music

Elora Festival Singers

Noel Edison, conductor

Available at

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Comments [4]


youre amazing.

Mar. 18 2011 01:19 AM
Scott Hughes from Toronto, Ontario

Anyone who has a love for choral music and it's roots and it's future, will love this album, it is stellar and on a scale of 1 - 10, I give it an 11

Jun. 28 2010 05:22 PM
julie from Elora

Come see why the stars shine brighter in Elora.
From the Celtic melodies of tenor John McDermott, to critically acclaimed singer Richard Margison or I Furiosi Baroque Ensemble with their unparalleled fervour, you are sure to witness something unique this season. Back by popular demand, is pianist Andre Laplante and banjo virtuoso Jayme Stone. Other headliners include Peter Appleyard, David Warrack and Jackie Richardson, and international artists like Trio Magellan and Ludus .We also proudly present our own internationally celebrated Elora Festival Singers, lending graceful harmony to Beethoven’s Mass in C, and Britten’s St. Nicholas just to mention a few… For tickets and more information call 1-888-747-7550 or visit
CALL TODAY to order your tickets and mention this message for your chance to WIN a FREE Whitacre CD!

Jun. 28 2010 10:21 AM
Ken Edwards from Elora Ontario Canada

You indicate the name of the choir as the Flora Festival Singers its actually
Elora Festival Singers
Elora is a small community in Ontario Canada about an hour west of Toronto.

Jun. 28 2010 06:30 AM

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