Conspirare

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Conspirare GR con=sammen,spirare=puste
Origin Austin, Texas
Genres Choral
Years active 1991 (1991)–present
Labels Harmonia Mundi
Website conspirare.org
Members Craig Hella Johnson

Conspirare is a choral ensemble based in Austin, Texas. They were formed in 1991 by conductor and musical director Craig Hella Johnson as New Texas Festival but did not begin to regularly perform until 1999. They have released over 25 albums[1] and one DVD and have been nominated for eight Grammy Awards. Their sixth Grammy-nominated album, The Sacred Spirit of Russia (Harmonia Mundi HMU 807526), was the winner of the 2015 Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance. Conspirare has commissioned works from composers including David Lang, Tarik O'Regan, Jocelyn Hagen, Donald Grantham, Eric Whitacre, Nico Muhly, Mark Adamo, Robert Kyr, Jake Heggie, Eric Banks, and Jake Runestad.[2]

History

Conspirare, originally New Texas Festival, was formed in 1991 as a week-long series of vocal performances every summer in Austin, Texas.[3][4] They did not begin having a fuller schedule of concerts until 1999.[5] They regularly play music festivals in the area including specials for Christmas[6][7][8][9] and in celebration of the music of Bach.[10] They have also played such renowned venues as Carnegie Hall[11] and Lincoln Center.[4] Their music was featured in the 2006 documentary The Mystery of Love.[12]

Recordings

through the green fuse

Their first release was 2004's through the green fuse on Clarion Records. It was recorded in early August 2004 over two days at the Skywalker Ranch. Robert Faires of The Austin Chronicle described the album's qualities as "sensitivity to text, purity of vocal tone, and, of course, those long, lush harmonies, with voices melding seamlessly into sounds that are achingly lovely". Tracks include "Deep River" and "Sleep".[13]

Requiem

Requiem, their second offering, was also on Clarion in 2006, and was re-released on Harmonia Mundi Records in 2009. It was recorded at the Troy Music Hall, Troy, New York.[14] The album has a "somber theme of death and loss", with Requiem Masses by Herbert Howells and Ildebrando Pizzetti and a memorial for tsunami victims by Eliza Gilkyson.[14] The album received two Grammy nominations for Best Engineered Album, Classical and Best Choral Performance.[15] In 2010, it received an Edison Award, the Dutch equivalent on a Grammy.[16]

Threshold of Night

Tarik O'Regan: Threshold of Night is Conspirare's third release. It is a collection of compositions by Tarik O'Regan. The chorus is accompanied by the Company of Strings. It was released by Harmonia Mundi Records in 2008.[17] The album was recorded in October 2007, and like Requiem, at the Troy Music Hall.[18] The tracks are based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe,[17] Pablo Neruda,[19] Kathleen Raine[18] and Emily Dickinson.[20] The album debuted at number ten on the Billboard Top Classical Album chart[21] and received two Grammy nominations for Best Classical Album and Best Choral Performance.[22]

A Company of Voices

Their fourth recording, A Company of Voices - Conspirare in Concert, was released on May 12, 2009 by Harmonia Mundi on both CD (HMU 907534) and DVD. It was recorded live at the Long Center for the Performing Arts in Austin, TX in October 2008.[23] Instrumentalists included Bion Tsang (cello) and Thomas Burritt (percussion). The show was recorded by the local PBS station, KLRU for a television special that began airing nationally February/March 2009.[24] The CD received a Grammy nomination for Best Classical Crossover Album.[25]

Sudden Light: Christmas at the Carillon

In 2010 Craig Hella Johnson invited Patrice Pike to join with Conspirare on a live recording with the Company of Voices, featuring Pike on three solo songs: a cover of Annie Lennox's "Why", plus original compositions "Volcanoes" and "The Calling".

Sing Freedom!

Harmonia Mundi released the group's collection of spirituals, Sing Freedom!: African American Spirituals on September 13, 2011 (HMU 807525),[26] wherein new arrangements were presented alongside older settings. The CD included the premiere recordings of arrangements by David Lang and Tarik O'Regan plus original compositions by Robert Kyr and Kirby Shaw. Three settings by Craig Hella Johnson were also included. Recorded October 2010 at Sauder Concert Hall, Goshen, IN.[27]

Samuel Barber: An American Romantic

On September 12, 2012 Harmonia Mundi released Samuel Barber: An American Romantic (HMU 807522),[28] choral music by Samuel Barber. The CD featured new chamber versions of The Lovers and Easter Chorale written especially for Conspirare by Robert Kyr. Featuring David Farwig, baritone, and Chamber Orchestra. Additional solos by Matt Tresler, Estelí Gomez, and Derek Chester. With Faith Debow, piano, and Thomas Burritt, timpani. Recorded September 2011 at Sauder Concert Hall, Goshen College, IN.[29] The recording also included Agnus Dei, Barber's choral arrangement of his 1936 Adagio for Strings. The album debuted at #10 on the Traditional Classical Album Billboard chart on September 29, 2012.[30]

References

  1. ^ "Recordings". Conspirare. Retrieved 20 September 2016.
  2. ^ "Past Repertoire". Conspirare. Retrieved 5 January 2017.
  3. ^ Hylton, Hilary; Rossie, Cam (2006). Insiders' Guide to Austin. Globe Pequot. p. 254. ISBN 978-0-7627-4041-3. Retrieved 2 February 2011.
  4. ^ a b "About Us". Conspirare. Retrieved 2 February 2011.
  5. ^ Cummings, Robert. "Biography: Conspirare". Allmusic. Retrieved 2 February 2011.
  6. ^ Pino, Barry (10 December 2004). "Christmas Choraling". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 2 February 2011.
  7. ^ Brandon, April (7 November 2008). "Christmas at the Carillon". The Victoria Advocate. p. M5. Retrieved 2 February 2011.
  8. ^ Brandon, April (26 November 2009). "A Crossroads Christmas: 12 events to get you in the spirit". The Victoria Advocate. Retrieved 2 February 2011.
  9. ^ "Various holiday events scheduled In Victoria". The Victoria Advocate. 23 November 2006. Retrieved 2 February 2011.
  10. ^ Mygrants, Joy (29 May 2003). "Ensemble will help open this year's Bach Festival". The Victoria Advocate. p. 1. Retrieved 2 February 2011.
  11. ^ "'Opera is Love' -- a night of passion at Kodak Hall". MPNnow.com. 12 November 2009. Retrieved 2 February 2011.
  12. ^ Lee, Felicia R. (9 December 2006). "The Countless Varieties Of a Single Emotion: Love". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 February 2011.
  13. ^ Faires, Robert (21 January 2005). "Through the Green Fuse". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 2 February 2011.
  14. ^ a b Manheim, James. "Review: Requiem". Allmusic. Retrieved 2 February 2011.
  15. ^ "Conspirare selects new leader, eyes Grammys". Austin Business Journal. 31 January 2007. Retrieved 2 February 2011.
  16. ^ Faires, Robert (4 June 2010). "If it's June, this must be our Edison". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 2 February 2011.
  17. ^ a b Eddins, Stephen. "Review: Tarik O'Regan: Threshold of Night". Allmusic. Retrieved 2 February 2011.
  18. ^ a b Faires, Robert (28 December 2007). "Culture Flash!". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 2 February 2011.
  19. ^ Venutolo, Anthony (1 December 2008). "'Tis the season for choral music". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved 2 February 2011.
  20. ^ Harlow, John (8 February 2009). "Pirates producer finds berth for British composer". The Times. Retrieved 2 February 2011.
  21. ^ "Top Classical Albums" (PDF). Billboard. 27 September 2008. Retrieved 2 February 2011.
  22. ^ "The 51st Annual Grammy Awards". Grammy Award. Grammy Awards. Archived from the original on 20 December 2010. Retrieved 2 February 2011.
  23. ^ http://catalog.hmusa.com/product.php?id=50715
  24. ^ https://www.pbs.org/about/blogs/news/pbs-hits-the-high-notes-with-varied-line-up-of-performance-specials-this-february-and-march-february-9-2009/
  25. ^ "Conspirare receives fifth Grammy nomination". The Victoria Advocate. 3 December 2009. Retrieved 2 February 2011.
  26. ^ http://catalog.hmusa.com/product.php?id=52397
  27. ^ http://conspirare.org/album/sing-freedom-african-american-spirituals/
  28. ^ http://catalog.hmusa.com/product.php?id=52990
  29. ^ http://conspirare.org/album/samuel-barber-an-american-romantic/
  30. ^ Traditional Classical Album chart
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