Journeys are never the same twice
Robert Convery
Benjamin C.S. Boyle
The Crossing
Donald Nally
Voyages String Ensemble
Catalog Number: 
#1 028
new classical

Philadelphia, PA

Release Date: 
Aug 23, 2019
Liner Notes: 
1 CD
One Sheet: 

At first, two settings of the same words may seem odd album mates. But, owing to the riches to be mined in Hart Crane’s Voyages, two settings of this masterpiece of early-20th-century poetry complement each other in myriad ways. These are two major works from two of the most creative artists writing for voice today. As conductor Donald Nally remarks in his program note, “We’ve found thousands of ways to sing ‘Lord, have mercy.’ What are two ways of finding the music in, ‘the bottom of the sea is cruel?’”  Indeed, that line is set so distinctly, so chillingly, by each composer that their individual world-views, expressed in counterpoint, linger long after the music has ended. 

Robert Convery’s Voyages follows Crane’s words verbatim, capturing the structure, exploring each poem as a miniature life lived, and focusing on the inherently musical meters of Crane’s dazzling vocabulary.  Convery’s world is one in which subtle harmonic shifts open up forgotten emotional universes, and abrupt tempo changes instantaneously transform a serene moment to one of complex feelings and desperation.  His focus on color would lead one to believe the work was written for The Crossing.

For his Voyages, Cantata No. 2, Op. 41 Benjamin Boyle has created a cantata-like structure excerpting some of Crane’s most intimate and wrenching moments.  With the addition of a string chamber orchestra, it feels as if Boyle has considered Crane’s words distilled and he has blown a kind new life into them – a very personal response to the feelings Crane hopes to evoke through imagery. The double-choir moment of “Meticulous, infrangible, and lonely” – in which the edges of a relationship become blurred and all seems like a memory – is as heart-breaking as music gets.  The solo moments offer a wide range: fragile, vibrant, warm, hopeful – all executed here with virtuosity and breadth.

The Crossing is a professional chamber choir conducted by Donald Nally and dedicated to new music. Winner of two Grammy Awards for Best Choral Performance (2018, 2019),  The Crossing regularly collaborates with some of the nation’s most accomplished ensembles and imaginative composers. Recent work has included the LA Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic, Helsinki’s Klockriketeatern, the Haarlem Chorale Biennale (Netherlands), and the Park Avenue Armory. The ensemble is committed to working with creative teams to make and record new, substantial works for choir, most often addressing social issues. The Crossing, with Donald Nally, was the American Composers Forums’ 2017 Champion of New Music.


“Such is their radiant sound and the vibrancy of the repertory they’ve cultivated, it’s gotten to the point I’d hear anything this Philadelphia vocal ensemble sings.”  (New York Times, January 2019)

“[Ted Hearne’s Animals exploits] The Crossing’s gift for lending social activism poetic form, as well as its uncanny array of sounds, from mere fumes to piercing, feral cries…[an] astonishing range of vocal techniques” (New York Times, September 2018)

“Against all odds, a choir focused on new music prospers” (headline, Chicago Tribune, March 2018)

“…unerring performers, the superb Philadelphia choir The Crossing, directed by Donald Nally” (New Yorker, September 2017)



"The Crossing is perhaps the most vocally virtuosic among the American small choirs, and they combine ambitious programming with the virtuosity. [FULL ARTICLE] - James Manheim