Please see Philip Greenfield's fine review in The American Record Guide, below.
Bob Chilcott: A Little Jazz Mass, performed with the Stu MacAskie Trio
Bradley Ellingboe: Peace at the Last
Kinley Lange: Prayer for the Gifts
Josef Rheinberger: Mass in A, op. 126
Paul Carey: Pues todas las aves vuelan
Dan Locklair: The Lone, Wild Bird
McNeil Robinson: Improperium
Eleanor Daley: Rise up, my love
Sandra Milliken: Dona nobis pacem
Trad. arr. William C. Powell: Gabi, gabi
Trad., arr. Kirby Shaw: Kumbaya
Douglas Cardwell, percussionist
Maxine Thévenot, Director, organist, pianist
"Sensitive, heartfelt singing" American Record Guide
"a fresh, sweet tone" Journal, Association of Anglican Musicians
the only collegiate women's choir in the State of New Mexico, has been
directed by Dr. Maxine Thévenot since 2007. The group is comprised of
approximately 20 singers who are selected via audition each semester.
Las Cantantes studies, rehearses and performs the finest literature
written for treble voices.
The ensemble is, at times, accompanied
by other instruments such as the harp, percussion, piano, and pipe
organ. Las Cantantes was founded in 1994 by the current Director of
Choral Activities at the University of New Mexico, Professor Bradley
Ellingboe, who led the ensemble in many distinguished concerts,
workshops, masterclasses, conventions and recording projects during his
14 year tenure.
Under the direction of Dr. Thévenot, Las
Cantantes began their relationship in 2008 with Raven. This recording
marks their third project with Raven, following My Dancing Day- Music
for Christmas and Dream a Little Dream. Each release features several
premiere recordings of works by American, Canadian and European
composers in the both the sacred and secular genres. Las Cantantes have
toured regionally and nationally and have sung in such well-known New
York edifices as Trinity Wall Street, Madison Avenue Presbyterian, St.
Ignatius Loyola and Grace Episcopal Church. Thank you for supporting Las
Cantantes in their continued quest for musical excellence.
Notes on the Music
An array of entities, as light waves or particles, ordered in
accordance with the magnitudes of a common physical property, as
wavelength or mass: often the band of colors produced when sunlight is
passed through a prism, comprising red, orange, yellow, green, blue,
indigo and violet
2. A broad range of varied but related ideas or
objects, the individual features of which tend to overlap so as to form a
continuous series or sequence.
colors that are visible to the naked eye; the full range of related
possibilities; these meanings both have their place in this program of
music, which gives us the serious and the light-hearted, the old and the
new, and so much in between, offering a bright, colorful spectrum of
ideas and inspiration. For a collegiate choir such as Las Cantantes,
this is a crucial part of their musical formation. For the listener, a
chance to hear these fresh, youthful, exciting interpretations of this
wide range of music.
We begin the program with the first of two very different mass settings, this one by British composer BobChilcott
(b.l955). Chilcott sang in the choir of King's College, Cambridge, both
as a boy chorister and as an undergraduate choral scholar, and in 1985
joined the world-famous a cappella group, the King's Singers, with whom
he sang tenor for twelve years. His arrangements for the King's Singers
have been performed and recorded around the world. Since leaving the
group in 1997, Chilcott has devoted himself to composition and
conducting, becoming an important international figure in contemporary
choral music. A Little Jazz Mass, is, as its name suggests, a short mass
setting (omitting the Credo) which unashamedly takes its stylistic cues
from jazz. Chilcott's score encourages the pianist to improvise, and
also allows for the ad lib. addition of instruments such as bass and
drums, whose players do without written parts, and improvise based upon
the piano score. As a result, the performance you hear recorded here,
with jazz specialists The Stu MacAskie Trio, is truly unique.
Our second mass setting is by German organist and composer Josef Rheinberger
(1839-1901). Rheinberger was a true child prodigy: born in Vaduz,
Liechtenstein, at the age of just seven he became organist at the parish
church there, and had his first composition performed a year later.
Later in life he became a distinguished teacher; when the present Munich
Conservatorium was founded, Rheinberger was its first professor of
organ and composition. A prolific composer, Rheinberger produced operas,
chamber music, symphonies, a large corpus of organ music, and religious
works including a Requiem, a Stabat Mater and twelve masses, three of
which are for women's voices and organ. The Mass in A, written in 1881,
demonstrates Rheinberger's fluent melodic style, setting the text with
clarity and economy whilst retaining the harmonic richness so
characteristic of his music.
(b.1958) is Director of Choral Activities at the University of New
Mexico. Born in Farmington, Minnesota, Ellingboe is an accomplished
composer, choral conductor, solo baritone and teacher and has over one
hundred pieces of music in print. The most substantial of these, the
Requiem, has been performed in the US and in Eastern Europe, conducted
by the composer. Peace at the Last
is a fine example of Ellingboe's music, marrying a smooth, contemporary
harmonic style and beautifully idiomatic vocal writing, with gentle
support from the organ.
This program also includes a varied selection of works by other living composers, including Prayer for the Gifts by Kinley Lange
(b.1950). Lange grew up in west Texas and New Mexico. He studied at the
University of Hawaii and the University of Texas at Austin, and is a
former director of the Austin ProChorus, a professional ensemble
specializing in performing the work of living composers. Prayer for the Gifts showcases a gently chromatic, romantic harmonic style and a colorful approach to text.
Cantigas de Amigo, from which Pues todas las aves vuelan
is taken, is a large body of anonymous folk poetry dating from medieval
times in the Iberian peninsula. The poems typically relate to matters
of the heart, with the speaker being a young girl confiding her romantic
wishes and desires to her mother or another older confidante. Paul Carey
(b.1954), became fascinated with their timeless, simple directness and
set them to music, originally for women's choir and four 'cellos. He
later rearranged the accompaniment for piano. A prizewinning composer,
Carey studied at the University of Illinois and at Yale University. He
is currently lead choral teacher and conductor of the North Carolina
Governor's School, held each summer in Raleigh, North Carolina.
In The Lone, Wild Bird, Dan Locklair
(b. 1949) sets text by Henry R McFadyen to music of pictorial beauty.
Locklair is a native of Charlotte, North Carolina, and trained at Union
Theological Seminary and Eastman School of Music. He is currently
Composer-in-Residence and Professor of Music at Wake Forest University
in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. A prolific and much-commissioned
composer, he has written music for a variety of forces, from solo organ
works to a tone poem for narrator, chorus and orchestra based on Maya
Angelou's On the Pulse of Morning. In 2004 a movement from his organ suite Rubrics was performed at the funeral of President Ronald Reagan.
(b.1943) studied at the Juilliard School in New York City and at the
University of Salamanca, Spain. A renowned organist and church musician,
Robinson is Chair of the organ departments at Mannes College of Music
and Manhattan School of Music. As a composer, Robinson has been
commissioned by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the San Francisco Symphony
and the American Guild of Organists, and his music is performed
regularly in churches throughout the USA. Improperium
revolves around an obbligato organ melody over slowly changing,
seemingly ever-descending chords, while the plangent vocal writing
outlines the bleak sense of abandonment inherent in the text.
Born and raised in Parry Sound, Ontario, Eleanor Daley
(b.1955) studied at Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, and Trinity
College, London, England. Her compositional output comprises more than
one hundred and forty published choral works, most composed for her
thriving choral program at Fairlawn Avenue United Church, Toronto; she
has been commissioned throughout North America and her music is
performed and broadcast internationally. Rise up, my love sets text from the Song of Songs with a supple, elegant musical language.
Dona nobis pacem is an a cappella setting of a core Christian text by Australian composer Sandra Milliken
(b.1961), exploring varying harmonic colors as it searches for the
emotional root of the phrase, "grant us peace". Milliken studied
musicology and ethnomusicology at the University of New England and
choral conducting at the University of Queensland. Awarded a Churchill
Fellowship in 2001, Milliken took the opportunity to visit over fifty
different choirs in Europe and North America. It was this experience
which led her to commit to paper some of her many musical ideas. She has
since become an internationally recognized composer of choral music.
Concluding our program, we reach the other end of our spectrum, with two arrangements of traditional praise songs. William C. Powell's arrangement of Gabi, gabi retains all of the direct, joyous rhythmic energy of its Zulu source; whilst Kirby Shaw's arrangement adorns Kumbaya, originally from the Congo but now heard worldwide, with luminous key changes and an ecstatic, rhythmic conclusion.
Maxine Thévenot, Director
direction invariably shapes the music with illuminating and often
profound effect, sculpting each phrase with intelligence and
understanding. There is an immaculate precision to every gesture..."
-Albuquerque Journal 2012
Dr. Maxine Thévenot is one of North America's leading young choral
directors. Equally at home working with amateur and children's choirs as
with adult professional singers, Dr. Thévenot has trained and conducted
ensembles across Canada and the USA. Acclaimed by The American Organist
for her "consummate musicianship", in her capacity as Director of
Cathedral Music and Organist at the Cathedral of St. John, Albuquerque,
New Mexico, she conducted the Cathedral Choir on tour in the UK at St
Paul's Cathedral, Southwark Cathedral and York Minster, and directed the
choir's most recent recording, Missa Campanella. Regarding this recording, the Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians
praised Dr. Thévenot's "very fine direction" and "a lovely sound, rich
in enthusiasm, warm in tone, and with a contagious energy to their
Since 2006, Maxine Thévenot is Founding and
Artistic Director of Polyphony: Voices of New Mexico. She has since led
the group, New Mexico's only resident professional vocal ensemble, in a
number of major musical projects, collaborating with the New Mexico
Philharmonic, The Santa Fe Concert Association and including sold-out
performances of Handel's Messiah.
"A group made up entirely and proudly of New Mexico singers, Polyphony:
Voices of New Mexico, has quickly become the area's premiere chamber
chorus in no small part due to Thévenot's direction." - Albuquerque Journal 2011.
Dr. Thévenot also serves as director of the University of New Mexico
women's choir, Las Cantantes, and has made three commercial recordings
with the group, whose "sensitive, heartfelt singing" was lauded by the American Record Guide.
Maxine Thévenot holds degrees from the University of Saskatchewan
(Bachelor of Music) and the Manhattan School of Music (Master of Music
and Doctor of Musical Arts), where she was twice recipient of the
Bronson Ragan Award for "most outstanding organist" She is also an
Associate of the Royal Canadian College of Organists and the Royal
Conservatory of Music, and an Honorary Fellow of the National College of
Music, London, UK.
In addition to her work as a choral director,
Maxine Thévenot maintains a distinguished international career as an
organ recitalist and has performed throughout Europe, Great Britain, and
North America at many prestigious churches, concert halls and
festivals, including Magdeburger Dom, Germany; Westminster Abbey and
Westminster Cathedral, UK; Salisbury, St Paul's and Canterbury
Cathedrals, UK; St. George's Chapel, Windsor, UK; la Cathedrale de Notre
Dame, Paris; Washington National Cathedral, Washington, D.C.; major
venues throughout Canada; and the music festivals of Bratislava,
Budapest, Prague, and Vienna. She is a recording artist for Raven, a
visiting lecturer at universities across North America and Europe and
has also contributed, as a writer and photographer, to several
international publications. www.maxineThévenot.com
Douglas Cardwell, Percussionist
Cardwell currently holds the Principal Timpani Chair with the New
Mexico Philharmonic. He joined the Philharmonic after performing with
the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. He has also been Principal Tympanist
with the National Sphinx Orchestra. Mr. Cardwell was a Fellowship
recipient with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and performed with DSO
including recording and touring Eastern and Western Europe. Cardwell
received a Bachelor of Music Education degree from James Madison
University. He performed with the Houston Symphony Orchestra on an
Orchestral Internship earning him a full tuition scholarship to Rice
University where he received a Master of Music Performance degree from
the Shepherd School of Music. Other credits include the Houston Grand
Opera, the Spoleto Festival Orchestra in Italy and an international tour
with the American-Russian Orchestra.
While living in the Detroit
area he was a member of "Embaire" which performs West African and
Western percussion ensemble music. Their work focused on the drumming of
Ghana and Uganda, as well as compositions for the Ugandan xylophone,
from which the ensemble takes its name. A versatile cross-over musician
in Jazz, R&B, Pop, Latin and Classical, Cardwell is seen out in the
community with many local groups when not teaching privately at his
percussion studio in Albuquerque. www.DCPercussion.com
pianist Stu MacAskie has been performing professionally for some 25
years, including 8 years based in New York City. Using this experience
along with a constant commitment to excellence he has developed a highly
personal playing, composing and arranging style steeped in the great
American jazz tradition while drawing fresh ideas from contemporary
street and world musics.
The high demand for his skills as
performer, composer, bandleader, recording artist and music educator has
led to engagements and tours on three continents. The extensive list of
jazz and pop artists he has performed alongside includes Bobby Shew,
Bill Watrous, Eric Alexander, Antonio Hart, Richie Morales, Frank
Morgan, Kevin Mahogany, Chris Galloway and vocal group The New York
Voices. Awards include several New Mexico Music Industry Commission (NM
MIC) awards and the coveted Performer's Certificate from the School of
Music at Indiana University.
Mr. MacAskie has been on staff with
the Music Department at the University of New Mexico for eight years,
and currently splits his time between two beautiful cities- Albuquerque,
New Mexico, and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Reviews Philip Greenfield in The
American Record Guide:
Las Cantantes, the women’s choir from the University of New
Mexico, has come up aces with me before and they’re impressive again in
this program. For starters, they give us a bright, breezy performance of
Bob Chilcott’s Little Mass with a jazz trio on hand to lend its
brand of elegance to the proceedings. Even more memorable is the glamorous
singing in Joseph Rheinberger’s Mass in A, a lush, handsomely
melodic traversal of the liturgy you’d have to be made of stone not to
like. Works by Bradley Ellingboe and Kinley Lange add some nice lyrical
touches, while ‘Gabi, Gabi’ unleashes a primal energy in line with its
Zulu ancestry. Notes, texts and translations are supplied, and the
recording is fine.