Voces8 / Winter: Fresh New Choral Album

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Rich Capparela hosts the weekday afternoon drive-time shift on KUSC, L.A.’s classical music station. He calls the selections “anti-road rage.” That would definitely apply to the beautiful, lilting music on Winter, a new album from Decca by the British vocal ensemble Voces8. It would also be wonderful music for meditating, yoga, or lying on your back on the rug on Sunday morning. It’s an album that you can enjoy listening to all the way through, and I’ve been doing exactly that at home.

The members of Voces8 are Andrea Haines and Emily Dickens (sopranos); Chris Wardle and Barnaby Smith (countertenors); Blake Morgan and Sam Dressel (tenors); Robert Clark (baritone); and Jonathan Pacey (bass). Voces8 performs with a small chamber ensemble (violin, viola, cello, harp, piano and celesta). It’s a perfect match.

The new album features music by Baltic composers like Peteris Vasks (Latvia), the better-known Estonian composer Arvo Pärt, and there’s a piece by Sergei Rachmaninov as well. Apropos of the album’s title, it is a soundtrack for winter, for stillness, and northern climes. It is music of stunning beauty.

Winter is a sequel/companion work to a previous album by Voces8 called Lux, a radiant choral album featuring a variety of works by Allegri, Elgar, and even Massive Attack’s “Teardrop,” as well as a choral rendition of a Ben Folds Five song. The choral group has big ears and tackles not only classical works but contemporary pop music, too. Like Eric Whitacre, Voces8 pushes the boundaries of what choral music is and brings new audiences to the genre. We need that…choral music is not for funerals or old people, and Voces8 is proving that.

Here is a trailer for the new album:

And, although I’m focusing on the new release, I have to share their version of Massive Attack’s “Teardrop”:

And, finally, I enjoyed this arresting video of their work “Stars”:

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