This is What Happened

This is What Happened

An invitation
Robin Estrada
Stacy Garrop
Mark Winges
John Muehleisen
Shawn Crouch
Catalog Number: 
new classical

San Francisco, CA

Release Date: 
Jan 20, 2017
Liner Notes: 
1 CD
One Sheet: 

Volti’s professional singers, under the direction of founder and Artistic Director Robert Geary, are national leaders in the discovery, creation, and performance of new vocal music. They are the first ensemble to have won the ASCAP/Chorus America Award for Adventurous Programming of Contemporary Music six times. In this recording they introduce 21st-century works they commissioned from American composers of dazzling range and diversity.

Opening the album is Robin Estrada’s Paghahandog, an explosion of sound from a bold and innovative Filipino-American composer who focuses on contemporary art music influenced by Asian indigenous traditions. Next is a new piece from Stacy Garrop, whose music is centered on direct and dramatic narrative and the sharing of stories. Songs of Lowly Life sets four poems by Paul Laurence Dunbar, the first African-American poet and novelist to gain national and international attention, written around the turn of the 20th century.

Volti’s resident composer Mark Winges contributes Canticles of Rumi, settings of five poems by the 13th-century poet and founder of Sufism. Seattle-based composer John Muehleisen contributes … is knowing … -- a musical analogy to Gertrude Stein’s linguistic Cubism. Album closer Paradise by Shawn Crouch was originally commissioned by Chanticleer in 2009 and then substantially revised for Volti in 2013. Paradise is based on the poems of American poet Brian Turner, an Iraq War veteran, whose moving accounts of the war are set alongside the poetry of the 12th Century Persian poet Hafez.

“… undoubtedly the finest collection of new music singers we have.” -- San Francisco Classical Voice



"Volti, the Bay Area’s adventurous new-music chorus, commissioned works from five composers, and as the witty (if vague) title of the group’s new disc has it, this is what happened. The music that resulted is, for the most part, suavely crafted and expressive, with a sleek air of sensuality that the chorus, led by founder and artistic director Robert Geary, evokes through finely blended singing. The exception — which I mean in an entirely complimentary fashion — is the opening selection, by Filipino composer Robin Estrada. In “Paghahandog” (“Dedication”), Estrada chops his Tagalog text into dissociated syllables that whirl around in a frenzy of textural recombination, creating a musical pressure cooker that is at once daunting and thrilling. If the other works seem a bit tame in the aftermath, they are still buoyant and often inventive creations — particularly Stacy Garrop’s deeply engaged settings of poems by Paul Laurence Dunbar and the angular and inventive Gertrude Stein settings of John Muehleisen. The entire lineup, which also includes music by Mark Winges and Shawn Crouch, is beautifully and sincerely sung." — Joshua Kosman