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Music of Visionary Transcendence
The Chapel Choir of Selwyn College, Cambridge
Directed by Sarah MacDonald
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SKU: regcd427 Categories: ,


Over the last fifty years a new style of choral writing has emerged from the US which has captured the imagination of church- and concert-goers, and record buyers alike across the globe. This style can summarised as timeless, spacious, and rapturous, with an innate depth of visionary and transcendental spirituality. These features have led to the simple, but apposite, description of the ‘Ecstatic Style’ .

This collection of unaccompanied choral works from the choir of Selwyn College, Cambridge, under their director, Sarah MacDonald, was recorded in the incomparable acoustics of the Lady Chapel of Ely Cathedral. It explores the development of the ‘Ecstatic Style’, from its beginnings in 1940s America to the present day, with representative works from major US composers Randall Thompson, Morten Lauridsen, and Eric Whitacre to established British composers, John Tavener, Paul Mealor, Cecilia McDowall, Alan Bullard, and James MacMillan, together with an early British example of the style in William Harris’ sublime double-choir anthem, Bring us, O Lord God. The recording also includes a substantial number of works by younger British composers, Iain Quinn, David Bednall, John Duggan, and a new work especially written for this collection by Phillip Cooke ‘The Eternal Ecstasy’ to words from the writings of Saint Teresa of Avila, and all receiving their first commercial recording.

Track List

Alleluia — Randall Thompson (1899–1984)
A Hymn to the Mother of God — John Tavener (1944–2013)
Regina Caeli — Cecilia McDowall (b. 1951)
Lux aurumque — Eric Whitacre (b. 1970)
Adoremus in aeternum* — Iain Quinn (b. 1973)
The eternal ecstasy* — Phillip Cooke (b. 1980)
The law of the Lord* — David Bednall (b. 1979)
The spacious firmament* — Alan Bullard (b. 1947)
Christus vincit — James MacMillan (b. 1959)
Nunc autem manet* — John Duggan (b. 1963)
O magnum mysterium — Morten Lauridsen (b. 1943)
Now sleeps the crimson petal — Paul Mealor (b. 1975)
i Now sleeps the crimson petal
ii Lady, when I behold the roses sprouting
iii Upon a bank with roses set about
iv A spotless Rose
Bring us, O Lord God — William Harris (1883–1973)

* first commercial recording

Total Playing time: 72:48

Production credits

Recorded 24, 25, 26 June 2013 in the Lady Chapel, Ely Cathedral by kind permission of the Dean and Chapter

Recording producer and engineer: Gary Cole

Assistant engineer: Andy Gammon

Sample audio extracts


‘Sensitive, precise and well-balanced’ Gramophone

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