Album Preview: Eric Whitacre “Light & Gold”

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KCRW DJ Tom Schnabel tells us about Eric Whitacre’s new album “Light & Gold” streaming now as part of our Album Preview series.

Eric Whitacre “Light & Gold” (Decca)

I remember years ago, while living in my little rent-controlled apartment in Santa Monica, listening to the lilting Duruflé Requiem, calmly dreaming away, awash in the lovely choral music.  A next door neighbor of mine roared into the underground parking structure in his muscle car and yelled up, “Hey Tom, who died?”

That’s the problem with choral music.  It reminds people of funerals.

Eric Whitacre is changing all that.  He’s gotten more young people interested in joining choirs than anybody else.  He travels the world doing choral workshops.  He singlehandedly has remolded a musty and often-ignored genre. His Facebook page gets thousands of hits from all over the world, and he has innumerable fans who follow him.

Eric Whitacre works his choral magic once again on his new album, Light & Gold.  His previous album, the luminous Cloudburst CD of 2006, went to the top of the classical charts.  The new album will most likely do the same.  His gift for harmony, his eclectic repertoire, his rich harmonies make it pretty certain that Light and Gold will continue this success. His music is accessible and lacks any trace of the dourness that often has marked Baltic choral music of Estonians like Arvo Part. But Whitacre is never saccharine.  Like the Estonians, Whitacre has tremendous depth but also has warmth and humanity.

Whitacre came upon choral music quite by accident.  He was attending college when a friend told him that a good way to meet women was to join the choir.  With his surfer-hunk good looks, he would have had no problem.  He joined the choir, but rather than meeting young choristers, he was instead smitten by Mozart’s Requiem.  After graduating he was given a full scholarship to the prestigious Juilliard School. Today Eric Whitacre has earned respect and admiration as the genre’s most eloquent and compelling spokesman, and it’s exciting to see his first new album in four years.

Tom Schnabel, KCRW Music Host

“Light & Gold” Track Listing:

Light & Gold1. Lux Aurumque

2. Five Hebrew Love Songs: Temuná (A Picture)

3. Five Hebrew Love Songs: Kalá Kallá (Light Bride)

4. Five Hebrew Love Songs: Lárov (Mostly)

5. Five Hebrew Love Songs: Éyze Shéleg! (What Snow!)

6. Five Hebrew Love Songs: Rakút (Tenderness)

7. The Seal Lullaby

8. A Boy And A Girl

9. Leonardo Dreams Of His Flying Machine

10. Three Songs Of Faith: I Will Wade Out

11. Three Songs Of Faith: Hope Faith Life Love

12. Three Songs Of Faith: I Thank You God For Most This Amazing Day

13. The Stolen Child

14. Water Night

15. Nox Aurumque

16. Sleep