House of Belonging – Award-worthy Music
As I write this, “House of Belonging” is up for Best Choral Performance for the 66th Grammy Awards. No wonder.
Craig Hella Johnson has sculpted his vocal ensemble into a wonderfully expressive instrument. Conspirare can sing with delicate transparency and stentorian authority. Their vocal blend is truly seamless. And there’s often a luminous quality to the sound as well.
The album features twelve new choral works (out of seventeen tracks). Collectively they explore the possibilities of expression with the human voice. There are four (or more)-part harmony, wordless humming, vocal sound effects, and more.
And while the music is new, it’s never too academic. Every work can be enjoyed at some level on first hearing. And many yield new insights each time they’re revisited. And there’s a variety of styles, too.
Contemporary composers are well-represented. Kevin Puts, Shara Nova and Alex Berko are just a few. And earlier composers such as Margaret Bonds and Ross Lee Finney also fit nicely in the mix. For me, the knockout track was “Reaching” by Craig Hella Johnson. Phenomenal.
The Miro Quartet joins Conspirare for some works and plays alone on a couple of tracks. They’re the perfect match for Conspirare. They, too, have a warm luminous ensemble sound.
This is an album of extraordinary beauty. Beautiful, insightful music sung by master musicians. Oh yes. This one deserves a Grammy nomination (if not the Grammy itself).
House of Belonging
Craig Hella Johnson, director
Delos DE 3601