Of Radiance & Refraction

Of Radiance & Refraction

Description: 
A shining debut
Composers: 
Claude Baker
Sven-David Sandström
Aaron Travers
John Gibson
Igor Stravinsky
Dominick DiOrio
Performers: 
NOTUS
Zora String Quartet
Catalog Number: 
#1 002
Genre: 
new classical
Collection: 
choral
Location: 

Bloomington, IN

UPC: 
726708600228
Release Date: 
Sep 28, 2018
Liner Notes: 
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1 CD

Of Radiance & Refraction

One Sheet: 

As it approaches its fortieth birthday, it is high time NOTUS put out its first record. Founded in 1980 and based in Bloomington, Indiana, the choir is known for its commitment to new music and has premiered over 150 works. Five of their commissions are featured here. Of Radiance and Refraction, their debut album, demonstrates the wealth of talent found in the student ensemble led by Dominick DiOrio, as well as the remarkable works written for them by composition teachers at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, some tackling choral music for the first time.

In Virginia: The WestAaron Travers sets the quick moodshifts of Walt Whitman’s battlefield poetry for unaccompanied choir. Claude Baker takes another "Claude" as his inspiration as he reimagines a work from Claudio Monteverdi's 1638 Madrigals of War and Love, "Hor che'l ciel e la terra," amplified by Baker with a battery of percussion that suggests and brushes just as often as it beats and bangs.

The album is anchored by John Gibson’s substantial work for chorus and electronics, In Flight. His music is paradoxically dark and brooding, light and airy, witty and sardonic. While Icarus is already drowning and half-submerged in Brueghel’s painting of the same name, Gibson’s first movement paints the entire story: an opening pastoral scene transforms into the moment of melting “wings’ wax,” with Icarus’ death “quite unnoticed” by the surrounding folk. The goldfinch of the second poem is drawn with harmony out of jazz and sound effects reminiscent of white noise, while the third poem’s constellations swim through a more molecular and symmetrical harmonic world. The fourth movement moves toward the most fulfilling cathartic peak on the word “love”—a love which is short-lived, as the emotional crash of the poet is met with music of equal divisiveness. The fifth movement concludes the set with an atmosphere of smog and metal, of stuttering voices and desolate remains.

Sven-David Sandström and Dominick DiOrio are certainly no strangers to choral writing. Sandström’s The Giver of Stars, is a beautiful meditation on Amy Lowell’s evocative words. DiOrio sets another strikingly different poem by Lowell in Stravinsky Refracted, where the poet responds to Igor Stravinsky’s Trois pieces pour quatuor à cordes (1914). The Zorá String Quartet—Grand Prize winners of the Fischoff Competition—perform Stravinsky’s original three pieces on this album, followed immediately by DiOrio’s dimensional refraction, a bombastic and fitting finale for this radiant album.

NOTUS is one of the country’s most prestigious collegiate vocal ensembles, with a dedicated mission to championing the music of living composers through the commissioning, programming, and recording of new works. Led by its fourth director Dominick DiOrio, NOTUS has performed across the U.S., from regional and national choral conferences to Carnegie Hall.

***

“Dominick DiOrio led NOTUS with ebullience, weaving a tapestry of golden sounds.” – Jeffrey Williams, New York Concert Review

Under Dominick DiOrio’s leadership, NOTUS stood out for the polish and dynamism of their performance.” – James Knox Sutterfield, Sequenza21

Dominick DiOrio, it must be said, is a superb choral conductor. In the few short years he has been member of the Indiana University Jacobs School’s choral department, he has taken the important Contemporary Vocal Ensemble, now with the added name NOTUS, on fascinating voyages of discovery, all the while shaping the choir’s sounds to be flexible, edgily precise, lusciously warm and whatever the music being sung calls for.” – Peter Jacobi, The Herald Times