Was it nausea or only numbness you felt when store displays started blinking in Christmas as early as October? Your inner Charlie Brown pleaded, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” Rather than waiting for Linus van Pelt to wax long on the Gospel of Luke, I have a much better suggestion: Let your ears get hold of Christmas with the Quire of Voyces. This new release, the sixth CD for the elite SBCC a cappella ensemble, is a diverse compendium of modern approaches to sacred texts and thematic poetry that leaves all familiar chestnuts behind. Every composition here is 20th century forward, but as the angel says, “Fear not!” — it’s not about atonality or nebulousness. What you will hear is beautiful singing of new, rare, and insightful approaches to Christendom’s most beloved holiday. “Generally I try to choose off the beaten path for our Christmas Concerts,” said Nathan Kreitzer, artistic director and founder of the 20-year-old Quire. “This recording represents a retrospective of our best Christmas recordings of the last four years. It also finally gives us a chance to highlight our extremely talented composer-in-residence, Michael Eglin.”
Eglin’s works, written especially for Q of V, constitute nearly a third of the disc’s 16 pieces and include arrangements of Appalachian carols and his award-winning setting of the Sara Teasdale poem “Barter.” Another gorgeous original contribution by the Quire clan is “Star Brightly Shining” by bass Michael Bland. Even choral-philes already acquainted with pieces by Healey Willan and Peter Warlock will find fresh vistas of listening pleasure with modern takes on Latin liturgy and English poetry by Ola Gjeilo, Alfred Desenclos, and Richard Rodney Bennett. Banish the humbug by picking up a copy from Chaucer’s Books, Granada Books, iTunes, or your favorite cyber-outlet today.