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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Vanderbilt Chorale, Music in the Listening Place, Tucker Biddlecombe

The voice was the first instrument? Or maybe a rock pounded on a rock? An imaginary origin tale is of no real account. It is enough to know that in music for voices there is a long ancestral stream that we continue to float down today.

And in the slipstream of it all, something new. It is the Vanderbilt Chorale under Tucker Biddlecombe performing some nine short choral new music or classic modern works, none of them exactly avant garde, but instead tonal with varying degrees of newness versus injections of tradition or just songfulness. The Chorale is part of the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tenn. They are well trained and sonorous. The nine works show us versatility as they show something of the range of mainstream choral compositions possible today.

Withal some nine musical scribners grace this anthology. Daniel Read of shapenote hymnophony starts the program on a well preserved archaicist note. Then follows Eric Whitacre, Michael Slayton, Maurice Ravel (we know HIM!),  Aef Houkum, Eliza Giekyson, Jonathan Dove, David Dickau.... Mostly unknown (to me) names. Frankly, not every one of these compositions floats my boat. There are a few that I do not salute as a personal anthem. Nor do I "take the knee" in protest of them. One accepts that there can never be a perfect, happy occlusion of self and all works coming about.

Nevertheless the program has beauty and depth. It is one of those unexpected surprises. Lovers of things choral will most likely savor these nuggets. There is substance and dedicated singing. So what more? Try this out! I suggest you do. Nobody ever was injured listening to new music. Not that I know of. These should rather have a beneficial effect I would think.

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