Smith: The Arc In The Sky

Album cover art for upc 896931005401
Label: Navona
Catalog: NV6240

Sutherland, Elisa; Jones, Michael; The Crossing; Nally, Donald

The Crossing has partnered with composer Kile Smith on several uniquely idiomatic works, spanning nearly a decade. But Navona Records’ THE ARC IN THE SKY, Smith’s 2018 setting of journal entries and poems of Robert Lax, is epic - an hour-long tour de force of thought and feeling that traverses topics ranging from Louis Armstrong to Jack Kerouac, and from Jerusalem to the shores of the island of Patmos. The enigmatic Robert Lax presents a fascinating aggregate of paradoxes: friend to Thomas Merton and the Beat poets; urbane yet reclusive; at times whimsical, at others blissful. Smith’s music for unaccompanied choir meets these words fearlessly, building great waves of majestic sound next to fragile threads of contemplation, with a broad spectrum of musical and poetic influences based on Lax’s varied interests and life experiences. The work begins with the ecstasy of Jazz – to Lax, a metaphor for life – born of his early days in New York City; the extraordinary close to the third movement is like a revival meeting. The middle section, Praise, subtly calibrates between the panoramic temple and the little things. The final section, Arc, reflects the culminations of Lax’s personal and poetic voyage: a mixture of calm observation and awe, captured by Smith in simple, overlapping canons and broad, double-choir brush strokes of sound with rich harmonies building to an unparalleled climax. THE ARC IN THE SKY is a formidable example of the heights which artistic expression can reach when its individual elements – that is, creative spirits from multiple spheres – work together in harmony. It is a pleasure to behold, and, as sung by two-time Grammy-winning choir The Crossing, an even greater pleasure to listen to.

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