Brooklyn Youth Chorus's
Black Mountain Songs
New Amsterdam Records is proud to announce the release of Black Mountain Songs, the debut album from the Grammy Award-winning Brooklyn Youth Chorus, out today and available for purchase from Bandcamp, iTunes,and Amazon.
The album has already garnered much praise ahead of its release, with NPR Music writing that it "vividly captures the broad variety of songs in agile, energetic performances by a chorus of nearly 50 vocalists" and The New Yorker praising the "astonishingly secure performance of the young singers, who have been tasked with executing some formidably complex choral textures."
This expansive choral work celebrates and rekindles the utopian spirit of Black Mountain College, where iconic artists including Willem de Kooning, John Cage, Buckminster Fuller, Merce Cunningham, Josef and Anni Albers, Franz Kline, and Robert Rauschenberg converged and collaborated in the mid 20th Century. Black Mountain Songs features works by Bryce Dessner (who also created the project), Richard Reed Parry, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw, Jherek Bischoff, John King, Nico Muhly, Aleksandra Vrebalov, and a collaboration between Dessner and Tim Hecker. Black Mountain Songs is the studio recording of an evening-length stage work of the same name, which premiered to acclaim in BAM’s 2014 Next Wave Festival. The project was co-commissioned by the Chorus and BAM, co-curated by Dessner and Parry (of the rock bands The National and Arcade Fire), and produced by the Chorus. Dessner, Parry, and Shaw, along with the Chorus, perform on the album.
Black Mountain Songs, a highlight of Brooklyn Youth Chorus’ 25th anniversary season, will be celebrated with a special performance, on the evening of the album’s release, at The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space at WQXR. The event is part of the Chorus’ 2016-17 Season artist residency.
Brooklyn Youth Chorus re-envisions choral music performance through artistic innovation and collaboration, in addition to a distinctively beautiful sound. Black Mountain Songs expresses the spirit of the Chorus as well as Black Mountain College—a richly collaborative, multi-dimensional approach to music making and artistic creativity. Black Mountain College operated from 1933 until 1957, and was fundamentally different from other colleges and universities of the time. It was owned and operated by the faculty, and was committed to democratic governance and to the idea that the arts are central to the experience of learning. Dessner went to a summer camp in the mountains of North Carolina as a child, not far from where Black Mountain College had been, and created Black Mountain Songs to serve as a collaborative work that pays tribute to the college and its ideals. Brooklyn Youth Chorus is perfect for his narrative song cycle in both principle and skill.
Most of the words featured in Black Mountain Songs come from poems and texts from Black Mountain faculty or students, including John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Josef and Anni Albers, Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, Buckminster Fuller, Robert Duncan, Fielding Dawson, Ruth Asawa, Basil King, and MC Richards.
The album was produced and edited by two-time Grammy Award-winner Grace Row, recorded and mixed by two-time Grammy Award-winner Charles Harbutt, It was recorded January and March 2015 at Watermusic Recording Studios, Hoboken, NJ; and October 2016 at Systems Two Recording Studios, Brooklyn, NY. The line producer was Jennifer Cambras, and packaging design was by DM Stith.
The world premiere production at Brooklyn Academy of Music was conducted by Dianne Berkun Menaker, directed by Maureen Towey, filmmaker Matt Wolf, choreographed by Jenny Shore Butler, set design by Mimi Lien, costume design by Sarah Maiorino, lighting design by Ben Stanton, video and projection design by Grant McDonald, sound design by Jamie McElhinney, narrated by Black Mountain College alumnus Basil King. The production was line produced by Laura Roumanos.
This recording is made possible in part through the generosity of an anonymous donor, Aaron Copland Fund for Music, J. Barclay Collins, II, Marie DeRosa and Richard McNeil, Educational Foundation of America, Jeanne Donovan Fisher, Charles J. and Irene Hamm, Annie Keating and Kim Hawkins, Gwen R. Libstag, Hillary Richard and Peter McCabe, Jennifer Sage and Nicolas Grabar, New Music USA, The Morris and Alma Schapiro Fund, Tiger Baron Foundation and Mary Anne and Dick Yancey. Black Mountain Songs is lovingly dedicated to the memory of Brooklyn Youth Chorus’s past chair, fervent supporter and beloved friend, Mary Anne Yancey.