Black Mountain Songs

Released March 31, 2017

New Amsterdam Records


The New Yorker
“Originally staged as a choreographed pageant at bam’s Harvey Theatre, in 2014 (the late Harvey Lichtenstein, bam’s dynamic director, was a Black Mountain alumnus), “Black Mountain Songs” earned a rave review in the Times—and when you hear the astonishingly secure performance of the young singers, who have been tasked with executing some formidably complex choral textures, you immediately understand why.”

“A heady project on paper translates to a transcendently breathtaking sonic experience … This is an expertly-crafted 21st century collage from a vibrant youth choir, an album that celebrates modernist innovation birthed in rural hills deep in flyover country. Brooklyn Youth Chorus’ Black Mountain Songs will destroy you, in the best possible way.”

Q2 Music’s Album of the Week
“The Brooklyn Youth Chorus, under Dianne Berkun Menaker, sings each of these numbers with the light, rounded sound of young voices, warmed with gentle vibrato and brightened by idiomatic American diction. But Parry and Dessner have also written far denser, less song-like scores, as have the half-dozen composers who have joined them for this project, including Tim Hecker, Nico Muhly and Caroline Shaw. And the Chorus is capable of singing with great subtlety and precision, as demonstrated in their easy mastery of some of the rhythmic challenges thrown their way here.”

NPR’s Songs We Love
[The album] “vividly captures the broad variety of songs in agile, energetic performances by [the] chorus”…”The swirling abates at the strum of Dessner’s electric guitar, making room for convincing solos by choristers Sarah Sotomayor and Anna McNeil.”
“Despite being comprised of pieces by eight different composers, Black Mountain Songs impresses as an exceptionally cohesive work; in fact, the song cycle feels so unified, one could imagine it the work of a single composer if one didn’t know better. Such an impression is easily accounted for: there’s the omnipresence of the Brooklyn Youth Chorus itself, of course, whose vocalizing establishes a through-line from the first song to the thirteenth… The recorded version, by comparison, feels intimate, even if a large number of individuals is involved…Melody is strong in the work, as are contrasts of mood and style, with the material alternating between hushed, almost hymnal parts (Dessner’s opening “Black Mountain Song”) and others whose rhythms draw from classical minimalism for inspiration (Parry’s “there is a sound”). Haunting passages emphasizing the choir’s rich vocal textures (King’s “ars imitatur naturam,” with its stirring melismatics) sit comfortably alongside pieces rich in hummable melodies (Bischoff’s “Childhood’s Retreat,” Parry’s “Spaceship Earth”) and experimental vocal techniques (Vrebalov’s “Bubbles”)…With such a diversity of material to work with, the Chorus, forty-nine voices strong on this recording, has ample opportunities to show off its luscious vocal sound, whether it be during an aggressive, full-throated passage or a delicate one…Among the album’s more memorable moments: a stirring a cappella section that arises during Shaw’s “Its Motion Keeps”; hand claps that nod in Tehillim’s direction during Muhly’s stately “Fielding Dawson in Franz Kline’s Studio”; the bold, gospel-tinged sequences that distinguish Shaw’s “Anni’s Constant”; and Parry’s “Their Passing in Time,” which caps the work exhilaratingly with a rousing climax.”

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