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Spectrum - Las Cantantes: Women's Choir, University of New Mexico, Maxine Thévenot, Director
Las Cantantes has come up aces . . . reviews The American Record Guide. - [OAR-938]

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

Las Cantantes
"Sensitive, heartfelt singing" American Record Guide
"a fresh, sweet tone" Journal, Association of Anglican Musicians
Las Cantantes, 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
Spectrum [spek-truhm]
1.   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.
    All the 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.
    Bradley Ellingboe (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.
    McNeil Robinson (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
"...Thévenot's 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 performances."
    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
Douglas 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

Stu MacAskie
Jazz 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.

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