The Singing Guitar
A Chicago Tribune Best Classical Recording of 2020, A WRTI Best of 2020 Album, Apple Music Featured New Album, and Qobuz Grand Selection.
“The singing of Craig Hella Johnson’s ensemble Conspirare combined with the delicacy of shifting textures of twelve guitars is intriguing and emotionally effective. … I found this a really moving setting for an unusual ensemble. You’ll find it alongside other new pieces for choir and guitar quartet.” – Andrew McGregor, BBC Record Review
“Johnson and Conspirare continue to create indelible work, as in “The Singing Guitar,” which pairs Conspirare’s sublime voices with guitar accompaniment. The melismatic chant of Reena Esmail’s “When the Guitar,” the poignant tone painting of Nicol Muhly’s “How Little You Are,” and the storytelling character of Kile Smith’s “The Dawn’s Early Light” illuminate Conspirare’s versatility and singular sound.” – Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune
Music for choir and guitars with Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, Texas Guitar Quartet, Austin Guitar Quartet, and cellist Douglas Harvey.
Johnson curated a program woven together by exquisitely crafted music for voices, guitar, and stories of women.
Nico Muhly’s musical mediation How Little You Are evokes powerful landscapes of American pioneers in a compelling work for choir and 12 guitars; soprano Estelí Gomez is a featured soloist. Kile Smith’s The Dawn’s Early Light sets selected text from Native American Sarah Winnemucca’s autobiography that addresses the significant divisions in our human family. The texts present contrasting perspectives of Sara Winemucca, the first Native American to publish and English language narrative, and the pioneer women whose texts are set in Muhly’s piece.
Indian-American composer Reena Esmail’s “When the Guitar,” in a new instrumentation created for Conspirare and the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, opens the CD. Conspirare’s sopranos and altos join cellist Douglas Harvey in Craig Hella Johnson’s “The Song That I Came to Sing”.
Conspirare gratefully acknowledges the following for their support of this recording: Anonymous, Dale and Tina Knobel, Legacy of Sound 2, Hella Circle, CAPTRUST: STMM, National Endowment for the Arts, Texas Commission on the Arts, City of Austin Economic Development Department, Cultural Arts Division and St. Luke’s Methodist Church.
Reflections on The Singing Guitar
Annette DiMeo Carlozzi, a longtime Conspirare listener, composed a reflection that captures the wonder of this latest release.
12/8/2020 – Chicago Tribune: The best classical recordings of 2020: CSO, Kevin Cole and James Lentini
11/2/2020 – Klassick Centraal (Netherlands)
9/14/2020 – Classical Guitar Austin streaming World Community Radio Network Featuring the world premiere recording of Nico Muhly’s How Little You Are and interviews with Artistic Director Craig Hella Johnson, John Dearmanof the LAGQ, Estelí Gomez, soprano
Austin-American Statesman Luke Quinton’s review of the world premiere of How Little You Are: “It’s a strong, moving work, a richly detailed piece of art that takes worthy stories from the West and makes them into something more than the sum of their parts, piecing just tiny fragments of these women’s lives together in a buzzing, humming vibrating piece of music that manages to move you not just intellectually, but emotionally.”
- When the Guitar (Reena Esmail)
- How Little You Are (Nico Muhly)
- We washed our faces at the spring
- Do you remember
- A long-drawn wail
- Interlude: Springtime
- How little you are
- The night herders
- The Dawn's Early Light (Kile Smith)
- I, Sarah Winnemucca
- My grandfather jumped up
- While they were fishing
- The Paiutes are not fond of going to war
- The Star-Spangled Banner
- I shall be beautiful
- The Song That I Came To Sing (CHJ)
Recorded November 4-November 6, 2019 at St. Luke's Methodist Church, Houston, TX
|Dimensions||5.5 × .75 × 5.0 in|