Turtle Creek Chorale

Songs of Our Nation

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In its selection of material for a choral album of American song, this release stands apart from any other release by a community-based choir in its eclecticism and its direct engagement with the issues of our time. It might be especially recommended to non-Americans (and to those Americans who call the space between the coasts flyover country), for it doesn't contain quite the patriotic music the fireworks cover would lead one to expect. The Turtle Creek Chorale comes from North Dallas, conventionally represented as one of the most politically conservative communities in the country, yet the album contains "Over the Rainbow," explicitly designated as an anthem of gay rights. "Perhaps we will look back on this time with different eyes," noted director Timothy Seelig in explaining the program's aims. "However, at present, we view it with concern and a fair amount of fear for our future." The album is dedicated to fallen soldiers and veterans. The pieces sung by the choir (accompanied mostly by piano and perhaps a drum set) range through American history, many of them addressing conflict between groups in one way or another, with several referring to times of national upheaval. There are Civil War songs from white and black perspectives, a fine arrangement of Randy Newman's "Louisiana 1927," and another of "Where Have All the Flowers Gone." Much of the music is drawn from popular sources, and the rest is newly composed in a vernacular adapted to the choral medium. The opening piece, "Mockingbird Sings," is a contemporary Indianist work by a Dallas composer. Beautifully sung, this is a new kind of all-American choral music, highly recommended.

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