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Ecumenical Spirit
The Choral Music of Michael G. Cunningham


Composer: Michael G. Cunningham
Label: Navona Records
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 26 April 2019

Composer Michael G. Cunningham delivers a choral based album of compositions all of which were recorded live. Ecumenical is defined as the promotion of unity among different Christian churches across the world, and Ecumenical Spirit celebrates the unifying powers of music as it transcends the borders of all differences...

Michael G. Cunningham (An Arc of Quartets; Mezzanine Seat) delivers a diverse and interesting collection of pieces on his latest album for Navona Records. Ecumenical Spirit contains 6 pieces (15 tracks - 1 hr, 04 min, 27 sec) of choral music all performed live.

The album opens with 'New Beginnings', which showcases rousing percussion, resonant horns, and the raw energy of the full choir. This travels into 'The Annunciation', beginning with an ethereal, dissonant piano entrance before the women’s choir rises into a lighter, major section, working through various prayers and intercessions.

The music then focuses on various common prayers, from 'The Lord’s Prayer' to 'The Prayer of St. Francis' as well as a full Mass setting and a celebration of 'The Holy Spirit' in six movements. Oddly enough, the second half of 'Seraphic Mass - The Lord's Prayer' reminded me of John Williams's end credits for Close Encounters of the Third Kind - delivering the same emotional energy.

This is a wonderfully produced choral album with a good balance of themes. If you're a collector of the genre then you'll find plenty to love here.

Track listing:

01 - New Beginnings (Op. 70) (11:22)
Ad Hoc Ecumenical Chorus
Paul Hilbrich (conductor), University Brass Ensemble and Bell Choir

02 - The Annunciation (Op. 77) (From the Missal) (16:27)
University Women’s Chorus
G. Edward Bruner (conductor), Steven L. Joyal (piano)

03 - The Lord's Prayer (Op. 6d) (2:12)
Women’s Chorus
Stephanie Graber (conductor), Irena Goldenberg (piano)

04 - The Prayer of St. Francis (Op. 49b) (2:53)
Women’s Concert Chorale
Alan Rieck (conductor), Kelsey Grande (piano)

Seraphic Mass (Op. 81)
University Women’s Chorus II
Valerius Knobloch (conductor), Walter Cogswell (organ)
05 - Lord, Have Mercy (2:48)
06 - Holy, Holy, Holy (1:40)
07 - The Great Amen (0:24)
08 - The Lord’s Prayer (3:47)
09 - Lamb of God (1:47)

The Holy Spirit (Op. 133)
Oratorio Society
Stephen Rosolack (conductor), University Percussion Ensemble and tubas
10 - Prologue and Invocation (3:17)
11 - The Baptism of Jesus (2:39)
12 - Litany (2:37)
13 - The Words of Jesus, and Litany (4:40)
Robert Knight (baritone)
14 - Interlude (1:39)
15 - Pentecost, Litany and Doxology (6:22)
Daniel Newman (tenor)


Darren Rea

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