In Mulieribus' fifth CD, "Cycles of Eternity," is their first album of music from contemporary composers featuring significant 21st century contributions to the repertoire for women’s voices with a focus on living, local composers, as well as female composers and poets of the past and present.
In Mulieribus' fifth CD, "Cycles of Eternity," is their first album of music from contemporary composers featuring significant 21st century contributions to the repertoire for women’s voices with a focus on living, local composers, as well as female composers and poets of the past and present. The majority of the music is previously unrecorded.
The album opens with the rousing Columba Aspexit by celebrated British composer Tarik O’Regan. Based on Hildegard’s sequence of the same name, it quotes various sections of the original chant melody while displaying O’Regan’s own creativity and brilliance. What follows is John Vergin’s Ave Maria, the first of two Ave Maria settings on the disc, both written for In Mulieribus. Vergin effectively captures the prayer’s reverent, then petitionary, tone. The next three tracks comprise From Cycles of Eternity, a choral song cycle in three movements by Oregon composer Andrea Reinkemeyer. “Aspiration,” “Limitations,” and “Life” are all settings of poems by African-American poet Henrietta Cordelia Ray that use musical language to express timeless thematic materials, including the brevity of our individual lives within the great expanse of time, artistic struggle, our relationship with nature, and collective dreams of freedom. Portland-based composer Craig Kingsbury ingeniously uses gentle dissonance, asymmetrical meters of 7/8 and 10/8, and occasional hints of flamenco in the harmonies to dramatize images of seven maidens singing as a metaphor for the seven colors of the rainbow in Canción de las siete doncellas, a piece commissioned by In Mulieribus for their 10th Anniversary Season. Kay Rhie's Hymn of Kassia is an impassioned homage/companion piece to 9th century Byzantine abbess and poet-composer Kassia and her most famous composition, Hymn of Kassiani. The lyrical Ave Maria by Robert Lockwood concludes with the text “O mater Dei, memento mei” – a nod to the famous Ave Maria setting by Josquin des Prez. The last two tracks both feature ancient texts that have continued to endure and inspire music throughout the centuries. Misterium Mirabile by British composer Nicola LeFanu highlights the floral imagery associated with the Virgin Mary, while The O Antiphons by Norwegian composer Wolfgang Plagge juxtaposes medieval musical styles with rich, complex harmonies characteristic of jazz and modern music. The resulting effect is a work that embodies the full range of moods expressed in the original “O” Antiphons, ranging from moments of peaceful contemplation to extreme urgency, from intense yearning to exuberant joy.
1. Columba Aspexit 03:13
2. Ave Maria 04:05
3. From Cycles of Eternity: Aspiration 06:58
4. From Cycles of Eternity: Limitations 04:30
5. From Cycles of Eternity: Life 07:05
6. Canción de las siete doncellas 04:26
7. Hymn of Kassia 07:05
8. Misterium mirabile 04:57
9. Ave Maria 02:52
10. The O Antiphons 10:13
“ . . . offers a luminous glimpse of the next world . . .
. . . the counterpoint is often slow-moving,
a bit like hearing lava move . . .
. . . and it is in the stillness of the final panel
that the work finds its home.”- Colin Clarke, Fanfare Magazine
“ ‘Life’ . . . is especially haunting”- American Record Guide
“ . . . Life features soprano Arwen Myers in a
dramatic and colorful solo
— at first robust, then lyrical and compelling.”- Bruce Browne, Oregon ArtsWatch