San Francisco Girls Chorus / The Knights

My Outstretched Hand

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The works on this release were all commissioned for the 2016 NY Phil Biennale, and all were performed by the present ensembles -- the San Francisco Girls Chorus and the Knights -- during a single concert at that contemporary music festival. Thus the program hangs together, and the performers know the music well. There are differences among the styles of the three composers represented; If It Were Not Me, by Brooklyn Rider founder and Knights leader Colin Jacobsen, is the edgiest in terms of tonality, but the three works have much in common: timely texts that the young performers address with a sense of commitment, often complex polyphony, and a style that's accessible and communicative without being neo-Romantic. The high point may be Aaron Jay Kernis' Remembering the Sea, a three-movement work to a text by Kai Hoffman-Krull with quotations from Walt Whitman, commemorating the mass shootings in Paris and San Bernardino, California. The young singers involved are not quite at virtuoso level, but they convey a sense of involvement that carries the music along, and the Knights continue their emergence as a top U.S. chamber music ensemble. This album definitely goes beyond feel-good choral music.

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