October 26 – David Lang’s stateless
October 28 – Nicholas Cline’s she took his hands
October 30 – Robert Maggio’s Democracy (World Premiere)
November 2 – Ayanna Woods’ Shift (World Premiere)
“America’s most astonishing choir” – The New York Times
GRAMMY-winning new-music choir The Crossing announces the launch of its current project The Crossing Votes: 2020, a series of four new short films, continuing the ensemble’s commitment to reporting and responding to the times in which we live. The Crossing Votes: 2020 includes two world premieres, written for the project – Robert Maggio’s Democracy and Ayanna Woods’ Shift – plus Nicholas Cline’s she took his hands (2017) and David Lang’s stateless (2019), all addressing issues in the national discourse leading up to Election Day, November 3, 2020.
The first film, out Monday, October 26, 2020, is David Lang’s stateless, the third pandemic collaboration between Lang and The Crossing. Marking the English-language premiere of this setting of a 13th-century letter from Rabbi Moses ben Hachman to his children in Barcelona, written while exiled to Jerusalem, stateless is presented as a new film by Eric Southern, with art and titles by Steven Bradshaw and Nyahzul C. Blanco.
In she took his hands (2017), out Wednesday, October 28, 2020, Nicholas Cline sets the words of Emma Lazano, on the arrest of her friend, Chicago immigrant activist Elvira Arellano, as quoted in The Washington Post on August 21, 2007 to create a journalistic, yet empathetic account of immigration, faith, and motherhood.
Robert Maggio’s new work, Democracy (2020), premieres Friday, October 30, 2020. Composer of The Crossing’s 2019 stage work, Aniara, Maggio returns with a new work, setting words of Franklin Roosevelt’s “Arsenal of Democracy” radio speech from December 1940. Determined, inspiring, and relentless, FDR insists that he would ask no one to defend a democracy that would not in turn defend everyone in the nation.
Finally, on Monday, November 2, 2020, the day before the General Election, comes the world premiere of Ayanna Woods’ Shift (2020). New to The Crossing, Woods has written the words for this bold new work in which she contemplates the reimagining of our monuments, building through layers to its climactic arrival, “bursting through the cracks in the story you tell, America.”
The four films were conceived and conducted by Donald Nally, conductor of The Crossing, with Paul Vazquez of Digital Mission Audio Services as audio producer, and music assistance from Kevin Vondrak and John Grecia. The films of Woods, Maggio, and Cline are by Four/Ten Media, Evan Chapman and Kevin Eikenberg, with assistance of Nick Hughes.
The Crossing Votes: 2020 features the ensemble’s new Echoes amplification kits, which premiered to acclaim and sold-out performances in the world premiere of The Forest earlier this month. Echoes features individual pillar speakers that allow singers to sing together, outside and safely socially-distant. In the Ayanna Woods premiere, singers stand 30 feet apart in a circle with circumference of 720 feet and diameter of 230 feet, the speakers gathered as a separate group in the center. In the Maggio premiere, singers again stand 30 feet apart, now placed as a giant starburst behind speakers, which are collected as a blueprint of The Crossing’s lay-out in conventional, non-COVID times. The isolation of singing during the pandemic is ever-present, while the joy of finding this way to do so is clear. The Crossing’s Echoes system was sponsored by Thomas Kasdorf.
All works of The Crossing Votes: 2020 were produced with social-distancing; the Maggio and Woods outside, and the Lang and Cline recorded one singer at time. The Maggio, Woods, and Cline were recorded and filmed at the farm of Libby Glatfelter in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. The Lang was recorded at The Crossing’s home, the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
About The Crossing
The Crossing is a Grammy-winning professional chamber choir conducted by Donald Nally and dedicated to new music. It is committed to working with creative teams to make and record new, substantial works for choir that explore and expand ways of writing for choir, singing in choir, and listening to music for choir. Many of its nearly 110 commissioned premieres address social, environmental, and political issues.
The Crossing collaborates with some of the world’s most accomplished ensembles and artists, including the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, American Composers Orchestra, Network for New Music, Lyric Fest, Piffaro, Beth Morrison Projects, Allora & Calzadilla, Bang on a Can, Klockriketeatern, and the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE). Similarly, The Crossing often collaborates with some of world’s most prestigious venues and presenters, such as the Park Avenue Armory, Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Pennsylvania, National Sawdust, David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center, Disney Hall in Los Angeles, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Menil Collection in Houston, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Haarlem Choral Biennale in The Netherlands, The Finnish National Opera in Helsinki, The Kennedy Center in Washington, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall, Symphony Space in New York, Winter Garden with WNYC, and Duke, Northwestern, Colgate, and Notre Dame Universities. The Crossing holds an annual residency at the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center in Big Sky, Montana where they are working on an extensive, multi-year project with composer Michael Gordon and filmmaker Bill Morrison.
With a commitment to recording its commissions, The Crossing has issued 21 releases, receiving two Grammy Awards for Best Choral Performance (2018, 2019), and five Grammy nominations. The Crossing, with Donald Nally, was the American Composers Forum’s 2017 Champion of New Music. They were the recipients of the 2015 Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence, three ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming, and the Dale Warland Singers Commission Award from Chorus America.
Recently, The Crossing has expanded its choral presentation to film, working with Four/Ten Media, in-house sound designer Paul Vazquez of Digital Mission Audio Services, visual artists Brett Snodgrass and Steven Bradshaw, and composers David Lang and Michael Gordon on live and animated versions of new and existing works. Lang’s protect yourself from infection and in nature were specifically designed to be performed within the restrictions imposed by the Covid 19 pandemic.
The Crossing is represented by Alliance Artist Management. All of its concerts are broadcast on WRTI, Philadelphia’s Classical and Jazz public radio station. Learn more at www.crossingchoir.org.
*Photos Left to Right: John C Hawthorne, Kevin Vondrak, John C Hawthorne