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Shenandoah: Songs of the American Spirit

Album Summary

>Traditional, American : Shenandoah, folk song
>Traditional, American : Sourwood Mountain
>Traditional, American : She'll Be Comin' 'Round the Mountain, folk song
>Traditional, American : Down to the River to Pray, hymn
>Traditional Spiritual : Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child
>Traditional, English : Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier, folk song (a.k.a. "Shule Agra", "Butternut Hill")
>Poulton, George R. : Aura Lee
>Nutt, P. : Goober Peas, song for voice & piano
>Traditional, American : He's Gone Away
>Traditional, American : Cindy
>Traditional, American : Billy Boy, song (Thaunton, Massachusetts)
>Hodges, John "Cool White" : Buffalo Gals
>Anonymous : The Erie Canal
>Kelley, Daniel E. : Home on the Range
>Traditional, American : Colorado Trail
>Traditional : Sacramento-Sis Joe
>Lowry, Robert : How can I keep from singing?, for choir
Performers Conductor Ensemble
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Composers

Notes & Reviews:

Conductor John Alexander takes the listener on a musical tour of American historical touchstones, celebrating the diverse folk culture of the US as well as the emotions and experiences of pioneer life. The John Alexander Singers, one of America's rising professional chamber choirs, capture the essence of the American spirit on this recording. The Singers have performed with Musica Angelica, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Kronos Quartet, Mark Morris Dance Company, the Royal Ballet of Covent Garden, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, and Pacific Symphony.

Notes & Reviews:

: James Garafolo, David Montoya, David Clemenson, Robert Slack, John Alexander , Lisa Sylvester, Mindy Ball.

Personnel: Jeff Morris (tenor); Artie Barsamian Orchestra (baritone); Carver Cossey (bass voice); Mindy Ball (harp); David Montoya, David Montoya (harmonica); David Clemensen, David Clemenson, Lisa Sylvester (piano); James Garafolo, Tim Emmons (bass instrument); Robert Slack, Robert Slack (drums, percussion).

Recording information: At Samueli Theater, Orange County Performing Arts Cente.

Here's a release for those who enjoy American choral singing of the old school, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, for example. The music consists of what are known as folk songs, and in fact the arrangement of "Cindy" (track 10) by Mack Wilberg is close to the one he made for the Mormon choristers. The charm of the program, however, lies in the variety of the arrangements, which are all by different composers and range from simple harmonizations to dense jazz-harmony and African-American spiritual treatments, including settings influenced by art song, pop, the British choral tradition (John Rutter's version of Sourwood Mountain may be annoying for some, but it's undeniably arresting), and more. The John Alexander Singers are a 24-member subgroup of the larger Pacific Chorale, a Southern California ensemble. Its style may seem overly cute by this time, but it's fresh, technically spot-on, and genuinely enthusiastic: when the group breaks into shouts to introduce a percussive quasi-dance passage, it doesn't come off as forced or rehearsed. Whether called on to execute gospel-style slides or unadorned intervals, the singers adjust seamlessly and stay on top of the music's shifting styles. The booklet notes explain something of the history of each song and don't shy away from the darker or raunchier aspects present in their histories, although the performances themselves would not suggest those. Generally a well-executed collection of traditional American music. ~ James Manheim



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Works Details

>Traditional, American : Shenandoah, folk song
  • Performers: Mindy Ball (Harp); David Clemensen (Piano); John Alexander Singers; David Montoya (Harmonica); Robert Slack (Drums); Robert Slack (Percussion); Lisa Sylvester (Piano)
  • Conductor: John Alexander
  • Running Time: 4 min. 7 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Written: 18th Century

>Traditional, American : Sourwood Mountain
  • Performers: Mindy Ball (Harp); David Clemensen (Piano); Carver Cossey; John Alexander Singers; David Montoya (Harmonica); Aaron Mosley; Robert Slack (Drums); Robert Slack (Percussion); Lisa Sylvester (Piano)
  • Conductor: John Alexander
  • Running Time: 1 min. 45 sec.

>Traditional, American : She'll Be Comin' 'Round the Mountain, folk song
  • Performers: Mindy Ball (Harp); David Clemensen (Piano); John Alexander Singers; David Montoya (Harmonica); Robert Slack (Drums); Robert Slack (Percussion); Lisa Sylvester (Piano)
  • Conductor: John Alexander
  • Running Time: 3 min. 13 sec.

>Traditional, American : Down to the River to Pray, hymn
  • Performers: Mindy Ball (Harp); David Clemensen (Piano); John Alexander Singers; Kellee King; David Montoya (Harmonica); Aaron Mosley; Thomas Ringland; Robert Slack (Drums); Robert Slack (Percussion); Lisa Sylvester (Piano)
  • Conductor: John Alexander
  • Running Time: 3 min. 6 sec.

>Traditional Spiritual : Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child
  • Performers: Mindy Ball (Harp); David Clemensen (Piano); John Alexander Singers; David Montoya (Harmonica); Zanaida Robles; Robert Slack (Drums); Robert Slack (Percussion); Lisa Sylvester (Piano)
  • Conductor: John Alexander
  • Running Time: 2 min. 46 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Written: by 1865

>Traditional, English : Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier, folk song (a.k.a. "Shule Agra", "Butternut Hill")
  • Performers: Mindy Ball (Harp); David Clemensen (Piano); John Alexander Singers; Kellee King; David Montoya (Harmonica); Robert Slack (Drums); Robert Slack (Percussion); Lisa Sylvester (Piano)
  • Conductor: John Alexander
  • Running Time: 4 min. 8 sec.

>Poulton, George R. : Aura Lee
  • Performers: Daniel Babcock; Mindy Ball (Harp); David Clemensen (Piano); John Alexander Singers; David Montoya (Harmonica); Robert Slack (Drums); Robert Slack (Percussion); Lisa Sylvester (Piano)
  • Conductor: John Alexander
  • Running Time: 2 min. 55 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic

>Nutt, P. : Goober Peas, song for voice & piano
  • Performers: Mindy Ball (Harp); Aram Barsamian; David Clemensen (Piano); John Alexander Singers; David Montoya (Harmonica); Robert Slack (Drums); Robert Slack (Percussion); Lisa Sylvester (Piano)
  • Conductor: John Alexander
  • Running Time: 2 min. 34 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Vocal
  • Written: by 1865

>Traditional, American : He's Gone Away
  • Performers: Mindy Ball (Harp); David Clemensen (Piano); John Alexander Singers; David Montoya (Harmonica); Robert Slack (Drums); Robert Slack (Percussion); Lisa Sylvester (Piano)
  • Conductor: John Alexander
  • Running Time: 3 min. 10 sec.

>Traditional, American : Cindy
  • Performers: Daniel Babcock; Mindy Ball (Harp); Aram Barsamian; David Clemensen (Piano); Dennis Houser; John Alexander Singers; David Montoya (Harmonica); Aaron Mosley; Robert Slack (Drums); Robert Slack (Percussion); Lisa Sylvester (Piano)
  • Conductor: John Alexander
  • Running Time: 4 min. 29 sec.

>Traditional, American : Billy Boy, song (Thaunton, Massachusetts)
  • Performers: Mindy Ball (Harp); Daniel Cardwell; David Clemensen (Piano); John Alexander Singers; David Montoya (Harmonica); Katharin Rundus; Robert Slack (Drums); Robert Slack (Percussion); Lisa Sylvester (Piano)
  • Conductor: John Alexander
  • Running Time: 1 min. 43 sec.
  • Written: 1934

>Hodges, John "Cool White" : Buffalo Gals
  • Performers: Mindy Ball (Harp); David Clemensen (Piano); John Alexander Singers; David Montoya (Harmonica); Nicholas Preston (Voice); Robert Slack (Drums); Robert Slack (Percussion); Lisa Sylvester (Piano)
  • Conductor: John Alexander
  • Running Time: 3 min. 34 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Written: circa 1844

>Anonymous : The Erie Canal
  • Performers: Mindy Ball (Harp); David Clemensen (Piano); John Alexander Singers; David Montoya (Harmonica); James Schaeffer; Robert Slack (Drums); Robert Slack (Percussion); Lisa Sylvester (Piano)
  • Conductor: John Alexander
  • Running Time: 2 min. 36 sec.

>Kelley, Daniel E. : Home on the Range
  • Performers: Mindy Ball (Harp); David Clemensen (Piano); John Alexander Singers; David Montoya (Harmonica); Robert Slack (Drums); Robert Slack (Percussion); Lisa Sylvester (Piano)
  • Conductor: John Alexander
  • Running Time: 4 min. 1 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Vocal
  • Written: 1873

>Traditional, American : Colorado Trail
  • Performers: Mindy Ball (Harp); David Clemensen (Piano); John Alexander Singers; David Montoya (Harmonica); Robert Slack (Drums); Robert Slack (Percussion); Lisa Sylvester (Piano)
  • Conductor: John Alexander
  • Running Time: 3 min. 37 sec.
  • Form: Vocal

>Traditional : Sacramento-Sis Joe
  • Performers: Mindy Ball (Harp); David Clemensen (Piano); John Alexander Singers; David Montoya (Harmonica); Robert Slack (Drums); Robert Slack (Percussion); Lisa Sylvester (Piano)
  • Conductor: John Alexander
  • Running Time: 3 min. 5 sec.
  • Form: Vocal

>Lowry, Robert : How can I keep from singing?, for choir
  • Performers: Mindy Ball (Harp); David Clemensen (Piano); John Alexander Singers; David Montoya (Harmonica); Robert Slack (Drums); Robert Slack (Percussion); Lisa Sylvester (Piano); Lorraine Welling
  • Conductor: John Alexander
  • Running Time: 5 min. 44 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic