See below for information on our two professionally-produced CDs. To obtain your copy by mail, please send $10 plus $2 for shipping to Nym Cooke, 38 West Street, Petersham, Massachusetts 01366. For CDs from other concerts back to 2012, please contact us. There will be copies available at our concerts if you wish to purchase them without the added charge for postage.
Fans of the Quinebaug Valley Singers, those who bought the chorus's Spring/Summer CD I'll Fly Away, and anyone who loves Christmas choral music and appreciates diverse and original programming on a Christmas CD will be excited to learn that the chorus has just released its first professionally-produced holiday disc. The full track list appears below.
There are plenty of Christmas favorites here, of course; but there's also a fine Hanukkah piece (Peter Yarrow's "Light one candle"), and there are less familiar works from countries as diverse as Germany, France, and Kenya ("African Noel"). Genres range from pop ("White Christmas," in a spectacular arrangement with two pianists and chimes) to folk (the Breton piece "Joyful Mysteries") to classical ("And the glory of the Lord" from Handel's Messiah, in a quicksilver, dance-like performance) to black gospel (the rockin' "O Mary")--and more.
There's music for the Advent season ("The angel Gabriel," from the Basque region of southwest France), for contemplation (Morten Lauridsen's haunting "O magnum mysterium"), and for nostalgic reflection ("Have yourself a merry little Christmas"). The compositions take us into that Bethlehem manger on Christmas Eve, up into the hills where the shepherds keep watch over their flocks, and into the night skies where the star guiding the three kings shines so brightly.
In all, there are seventeen choral pieces on the disc, and a wonderful bonus: a ten-minute piano improvisation on three of the songs by QVS accompanist Brooks Milgate. Those who have heard Milgate's brilliant piano playing at QVS concerts will know what a treat they're in for here.
Brightest and Best is truly a cornucopia of Christmas choral delights. It will put you right into the Christmas mood--all the best Christmas moods--magic, anticipation, coziness, devotion, peacefulness, sheer excitement. And it's the perfect Christmas gift for friends and family.
For an audio recording of Director Nym Cooke
discussing the Spring 2015 season, click here.
The repertory for these concerts was chosen by the singers themselves, in a process of online voting run by QVS bass and webmaster Eric Glinsky. Every one of the 130+ pieces performed at the chorus’s Spring concerts over the past ten years was listed on an electronic form, and from these each singer chose up to twenty-five favorite pieces. The pieces receiving the most votes will be performed this Spring—and also recorded, on the chorus’s first professionally produced CD.
The set-list thus arrived at reads like a “What’s What” of community chorus favorites. Tied for first place, with 23 votes each, are a spirited arrangement of Paul Simon’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and a medley from the ever-popular musical Les Misérables. Other gems on the list include James Taylor’s “That Lonesome Road,” a rollicking arrangement of “Down by the Riverside,” a medley including “California Dreamin’” and “Surfin’ U.S.A.,” the haunting “Shenandoah,” a gospel version of “Amazing Grace,” “Ol’ Man River” from Show Boat, a medley from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel, and George Gershwin’s perennially popular “Summertime.” There are also QVS specialties (sung in these arrangements by no other chorus in the land) such as the magical Breton piece “Mont Saint-Michel,” the rousing but little-known black spiritual “Now Let Me Fly,” and Cooke’s own setting of “The Wild Mountain Thyme.” These will be concerts to remember!
And QVS fans can purchase a very special souvenir to remember them by. Two weeks after their concerts, the chorus goes into the “studio” (likely one of the concert venues) for the first of two intensive recording sessions under the guidance of professional recording engineer Dan Richardson (whose website, nottooloud.com, is just a great photo and an email address). The resulting CD will be available by Summer’s end. In the concerts and on the recording, the chorus will sing both a cappella and accompanied by pianist Brooks Milgate; and in one number on the recording, “Mont Saint-Michel,” they'll be supported by a band including Celtic harp, fiddle, hand-drum, acoustic guitar, and uilleann pipes.