Benedict Sheehan: A Christmas Carol (Pure Audio) [Blu-ray]

Бенедикт Шихан: Рождественская песнь
  • регион ABC
  • Sono Luminus
  • США
  • 66 мин
  • Дата релиза: 23 сентября 2022  
Blu-ray Audio
Формат диска: BD-25 (Blu-ray Single-Layer Disc)
Тип издания: Keep case
Видео: MPEG-2 / 1080i60 / 1.78:1
Аудио: Английский DTS-HD MA 5.1
Английский Auro-3D
Английский LPCM 2.0
Английский Dolby Atmos
Жанр: Духовная, Инструментальная
Студия/Зал: Dorian
Композитор: Benedict Sheehan, Matthew Guard
Исполнители: Benedict Sheehan, Skylark Vocal Ensemble, Sarah Walker

In the Summer of 2019, we recorded our album Once Upon a Time, our first recorded ver- sion of a “story concert.” Although we had explored this concept for several years prior with storyteller Sarah Walker, Once Upon a Time was our first collaboration with Benedict Sheehan, who composed incidental music (almost like a choral movie score) to accompany Sarah’s dialogue and to connect the musical dots between existing works by an array of composers.

That summer, it became clear that we had stumbled onto something unusual and special. First, the idea of a continuous choral story score – combining elements of classical performance, storytelling, film scoring, and theatricality – seemed to be a rich new idiom for choral performance art. Second, the collaborative team of the project seemed like a dream come true – there was a strong sense of mutual respect for everyone’s unique talents, and a rare ability for creative push and pull.

In agreement that we were eager to explore something even more intentional, Christmas was a topic of great interest to all of us. Choral music seems to have a special appeal during the holidays, and Christmas is a time when stories seem to have a unique ability to move people. In some ways, the Dickens is both the best and worst choice for our nascent art-form. The best because it is so well known and beloved by many; familiarity creates an entry point for many listeners. The worst because it has been done so many times, it has the danger of being seen as a holiday trope (who doesn’t see a poster of an old man in a stocking cap?).

For the first time in my adult life, I went to the original source material, ~30,000 words written by hand in 1843. Being familiar with several film and theatrical productions, I couldn’t believe how moved I was by the text alone. Imagining Sarah Walker’s inspired reading of the story was already exciting – the idea of a score with Benedict’s realization of classic carols to accompany the story was absolutely thrilling. We were hooked.

The first task was abridging the miraculous source text. Aiming for a ~70 minute concert work with music, we needed roughly 5,000 words. That meant removing over 80% of the Dickens text, a horrifying and daunting prospect. My rule for this process was only to remove words – I never added or changed any material. I aimed to preserve the essence of the story, eyeing a dramatic flow that would make room for musical offerings to step into the narrative spotlight.

Once we had a working text, Benedict and I assembled a list of contender carols that were favorites of ours, a “stable” of sorts for ideas. Benedict went through the libretto and sketched out an initial outline for musical ideas, marrying carols with plot points. The mockup changed and evolved over several weeks as new ideas emerged, and as we debated and considered the right balance between carols that are familiar and more obscure. I’ll never forget the first time I heard “Poverty” – I had never encountered the carol, and it appeared in Benedict’s first draft of the progression. I jumped onto YouTube and found a recording. Only know- ing the context for the piece in the story, I burst into tears hearing the first two bars. I suspect that this impact will stay with me for life, enhanced by Benedict’s gorgeous arrangement.

Early on, Sarah Walker provided a sample recorded reading: a voice memo, of sorts, of the whole story. This enabled Benedict to compose the music with a clear idea of Sarah’s delivery pace and timing, which creates a marriage of words and music that feels truly organic. When it actually came down to the recording in the summer of 2021, it was incredibly clear how everything was meant to be, and the pieces fell into place remarkably easily (despite the fact that the narration was recorded nearly 2 months before the music)!

Writing this now, on the day that I’ve heard the final mastered recording for the first time, it’s hard to believe that this particular arrangement of words and music has never existed before. Like many great works of art, it feels to me as though this has always been there waiting to be discovered, like a beautiful figure carved from a single piece of wood whose form is revealed by a master wood carver. As Benedict’s early vocation was as a carpenter, this analogy feels particularly apt.

Looking forward to our debut concerts in a few months, I cannot wait to share this dramatic experience with the world. My greatest hope for this recording is that this collaborative labor of love will encourage many people to contemplate such a journey each and every year.

Stave One: Marley’s Ghost
1. The Truth from Above 2:07
2. In the Counting House 2:26
3. Surplus Population 2:43
4. God Rest You Merry 1:37
5. Marley’s Ghost 3:07
6. Mankind was my Business 3:41
7. Remember 2:07

Stave Two: The First of the Three Spirits
8. The Ghost of Christmas Past 3:01
9. Little Fan 1:18
10. Sussex Carol 2:13
11. Fezziwig’s Ball 4:33
12. Gain is Loss 1:32

Stave Three: The Second of the Three Spirits
13. The Ghost of Christmas Present 2:15
14. Not a Handsome Family / Silent Night 5:09
15. A Child Himself 1:40
16. Deck the Halls 1:45
17. The Bell Struck Twelve 1:11
18. Ghost of the Future 2:18

Stave Four: The Last of the Spirits
19. The Body of a Man 0:50
20. My Little Child 3:31
21. Coventry Carol 4:29
22. The Spirits of All Three 2:09
23. Poverty 2:48

Stave Five: The End of It
24. Christmas Day 2:01
25. Back Payments 2:10
26. God Bless Us, Every One 1:54
27. It Came Upon the Midnight Clear 4:57

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