Notes & Reviews:
LET ME FLY showcases the extraordinary talents of the University of South Dakota Chamber Singers in a compilation of American choral music under the direction of Dr. David Holdhusen. The album, recorded from 2014 to 2016, primarily draws on two mainstays of contemporary American choral repertoire – traditional folk song and spiritual arrangements and new works featuring a lyrical, lush harmonic language. It is the traditional works which form the true heart of the collection. Beloved favorites like Elijah Rock, Shenandoah, Dixie, Windham, and Go, Tell It On The Mountain are given fresh interpretations through expert, inspired arrangements which highlight the strengths of the ensemble and its leader. These interpretations are sure to delight lovers of folk and spiritual material, but they also stretch into new sonic territories and present these cherished tunes in an exhilarating, inspirational manner. Country Dances, a lively medley of folksy tunes arranged by Ward Swingle, contains references to several well-known American folk songs and includes playful vocalizations that conjures memories of the often-entertaining repertoire of collegiate glee clubs. An English setting of Psalm 23 is one of three works by Jonny Priano featured on the album (along with Do Not Fear and There is a River). These selections represent the composer’s highly melodic, traditional aesthetic, as well as the lush harmonic language present in mainstream American choral composition. The deep, personal relationship between the composer and the ensemble is apparent in the passion with which the music is performed. Someplace, by Jocelyn Hagen, expresses a marked pop influence, featuring beatbox throughout. Beyond the clear associations to various styles of pop music, the piece also borrows from certain genres of a cappella vocal music, and has a sophisticated structure, with several sections that change mood, texture, and tempo. I am Not Yours, by Z. Randall Stroope, deliberately establishes and maintains its harmonic language, breaking diatonic boundaries only in its climactic middle section to emphasize its most important moments.