And Again I Say Rejoice Choirs, Organ, Brass and Percussion of Second Presbyterian Church Choral music enthusiasts can make room in their CD libraries for a collection that should prove to be as broad in its appeal as it is imaginative and varied in its offerings. With its first commercial release in 10 years, the 90-voice Sanctuary Choir, in concert with The Brass & Percussion Ensemble and award-winning organist Heather Hinton, continues its long-standing reputation for musical excellence.
Loosely structured to follow the liturgical year and organized with an ear to consonance in key, director of music Mark Riddles characterizes the remarkable diversity contained in the two-CD set as "truly representative" of the choir"s repertoire - "a sampler." Indeed, whatever sectarian, cultural or musical boundaries are presumed to attach to "church music" are artfully expanded into a richly textured assemblage of familiar and innovative works. "Litany for Easter," splendid in its use of simple manipulation of pace, dynamic and interval, and resembling the progression and release style of Russian Orthodox music, is a mesmerizing example of the fullness and sonority that is to be found throughout this recording. A refreshingly jazzy arrangement of "Nearer My God to Thee" is almost certain not to produce visions of a sinking Titanic. An African-American shout song, a 10th century French antiphon, a Brazilian folk song and a 12th century Hebrew tune are all worthy contributions to this amalgam. The Beecher Singers, a 16-voice ensemble, are featured in pieces in which a full choir would prove too weighty. Their a cappella interpretation of "Ave Verum Corpus" is outstanding. Functioning both as accompaniment and featured performances, the organ and brass/percussion contributions are of consistently high quality and provide balance and depth to the collection as a whole. The set is available at the church, at retailers such as Borders, Barnes & Noble and Sinfonia, and soon on Amazon.com. Call 253-6461 or log on to www.secondchurch.org.