BAYLOR UNIVERSITY A CAPPELLA CHOIR
HERBERT HOWELLS: REQUIEMSacred and Secular Choral Music
Wolfram Buchenberg, Herbert Howells, Susan Labarr, Zdenek Lukáš, Alexander L’estrange, Felix Mendelssohn, Enrico Miaroma, Jake Runestad, Traditional, Tomás Luis De Victoria
BAYLOR UNIVERSITY A CAPPELLA CHOIR
BRIAN SCHMIDT, conductor
Parker Bowen and Andrew Eaton, assistant conductors
Hannah Becker, Rachel McCormick, Jenny Skarke and Emily Wolfe, sopranos
Maura Brown and Gabby Krueger, altos
Kameron Alston, Eric Mejia, Matthew Newhouse and Austin Rabon, tenors
Andrew Eaton and Austin Ingalls, baritones
There’s no doubting the youthful zeal the singers bring to their task... First recordings of works by Enrico Miaroma and Susan Labarr confirm the generous warmth and careful intonation of the ensemble... Director Brian Schmidt elicits much that is polished and moving in the Requiem... Such committed singing makes this a group to watch."
Tony Way, Limelight [October 2021]
"The technical execution is first-rate in every way; some British cathedral choirs could take lessons from this group and its obviously most able conductor, Brian Schmidt. The recorded sound is ideally clear and balanced... This is a disc definitely worth getting... enthusiastically recommended."
James A. Altena, Fanfare [November/December 2021]
"The choir gives an excellent account of [the Howells] and sings with perfect blend, intonation, diction, ensemble, flexibility, musicality, and a strong sound."
Delcamp, American Record Guide [September/October 2021]
"an MSR Classic CD by the Baylor University A Cappella Choir, offers a range of music that collectively provides peace, redemption and hope for a troubled world... The recording clearly captures the choir’s outstanding solo performances and beautiful harmonies that contribute to a high quality listening experience. The overall effect is a tribute to hard work by the members of the choir and its fine conductor, Brian Schmidt."
Joel C. Thompson, Cherry Grove Music Review [August 2021]
"The cover proclaims Herbert Howells’ Requiem as the focus of a new album by Baylor University’s A Cappella Choir, but there is so much more packed into this collection of elegantly sung musical selections from throughout the ages... The tone [of the album] is reflective, appropriate to the times in which we live, yet the music is enlivening, uplifting, even celebratory under the direction of Brian Schmidt. The musicianship of the group, which I estimate hovers close to 50 singers at times, is quite extraordinary when one considers these are university students still gaining experience on the concert stage... this is a wonderful album. Perhaps the biggest takeaway is to rethink Herbert Howells, disassociate him for a bit from the religious organization he served, and evaluate him objectively as the composer of music of striking intelligence and exquisite beauty."
Linda Holt, ConcertoNet [August 2021]
"Listeners fascinated by expressive modern sacred and secular vocal music can find some fine performances of largely unfamiliar works on...an MSR Classics disc featuring the Baylor A Cappella Choir conducted by Brian Schmidt... The pleasures of the choir’s sound are a major attraction of this disc."
Mark J. Estren, InfoDad [July 2021]
PROGRAM NOTESCan Good overcome Evil? Generations of people have asked this question and, though it often appears to be a constant struggle, history tells us that it is possible and that we must remain hopeful. The theme that weaves throughout this recording is one of hope, and we have aspired to sing with the belief that light will indeed overcome darkness; that Good is stronger than Evil. The music and texts very effectively guide the listener through a vast range of human emotions. We journey through the terrifying images and sounds of “Dies irae” (Day of Wrath) and the frantic pleading in “Erbarme dich unser, O Herr” (Have mercy on me, O God) to the comfort and solace provided in Herbert Howells’ masterful Requiem, where he poignantly combines Psalms texts with texts from Latin Requiem Mass. One also experiences the mournful grieving of the desolation of Jerusalem, manifest in the Lamentations text as a grieving mother, to the hopeful wishes of a dying soldier. We can see and feel and hear the darkness around us, but there is always hope. In the thrilling conclusion of the opening piece on the album, we hear “Mirth spreads from leaf to leaf, my darling, and gladness without measure. The heaven’s river has drowned its banks and the flood of joy is abroad.” We hope this collection of music elicits comfort, hope and joy, especially amidst the darkness in life. [Brian A. Schmidt, October 2020]
Brian Schmidt is Associate Professor of Choral Music and Director of Graduate Choral Studies at Baylor University where he conducts the Baylor A Cappella Choir and Chamber Singers. He is a GRAMMY-nominated conductor and Founder/Artistic Director of the South Dakota Chorale, a professional choir based in Sioux Falls, SD where he has grown the ensemble’s artistic presence through commercial recordings and an international recording contract in 2014 with Pentatone. Previously Schmidt served at Duke University Chapel where he conducted the Duke Vespers Ensemble and founded several new ventures including the monthly Bach Cantata Series and Cappella Baroque (a professional period-instrument orchestra) along with publishing recordings on the MSR Classics label. Schmidt graduated from the University of North Texas, where he completed MM and DMA degrees under Jerry McCoy and Richard Sparks, along with early music studies under Lyle Nordstrom and Lenora McCroskey.
The Baylor University A Cappella Choir is the flagship choral ensemble at the University. Recognized as one of the elite college choirs in America, they were named winners of The American Prize—College & University Division in 2020. The choir combines some of the most advanced singers at Baylor, both music majors and non-music majors, and focuses on cultivating meaningful fellowship and rich, artistic singing. The A Cappella Choir performs a wide variety of musical styles, both solo performances and collaborative projects with other areas of the School of Music. Additionally, the choir is involved with performances for Family Weekend in the Fall, the annual televised “A Baylor Christmas” production, the Baylor Choral Invitational, and is active in the community, throughout the state, and across the country. The Baylor A Cappella Choir has performed by invitation for the Baptist General Convention of Texas, Texas Music Educators Association Convention, the Texoma Region of the National Association of Teachers of Singing and the prestigious National Convention of the American Choral Directors Association.
PROGRAMENRICO MIAROMA (b.1962) | WORLD PREMIERE RECORDING
LIGHT | Text: Rabindranath Tagore
ALEXANDER L’ESTRANGE (b.1974)
OCULI OMNIUM | Text: Psalm 145:15 / anon
ZDENEK LUKÁŠ (1928–2007)
DIES IRAE (from Requiem)
FELIX MENDELSSOHN (1809–1847)
RICHTE MICH, GOTT | Text: Psalm 43
WOLFRAM BUCHENBERG (b.1962)
ERBARME DICH UNSER (from Four Sacred Songs)
HERBERT HOWELLS (1892–1983)
I. Salvator mundi (O Saviour of the world)
II. Psalm 23 – The Lord is my shepherd
III. Requiem Aeternam I
IV. Psalm 121 – I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills
V. Requiem Aeternam II
VI. I heard a voice from heaven (Revelation 14:13)
JAKE RUNESTAD (b.1986)
I WILL LIFT MINE EYES | Text: Psalm 121
TOMÁS LUIS DE VICTORIA (1548–1611)
O VOS OMNES | Text: Lamentations 1:12
TRADITIONAL | Arranged by Short / Wilberg
THE DYING SOLDIER
SUSAN LABARR (b.1981) | WORLD PREMIERE RECORDING
I HEAR THY VOICE | Text: Eugene Field
Recorded 6-7 April 2018 and 22-23 March 2019 at the Armstrong Browning Library, Baylor University, Waco, Texas. A SoundMirror Recording: Producer: Blanton Alspaugh. Recording, editing and mastering engineer: Brandon Johnson.