Director Matthew Culloton shares the Singers' nature-inspired collection
New Classical Tracks - Matthew Culloton (Extended)
The Singers — Come to the Woods (Arsis Audio)
“We are all loud or pensive about things,” said Matthew Culloton, artistic director of the Singers, talking about the ensemble’s 10th recording. “At times, we may be lonely, but also reflective and hopeful. Naming the album Come to the Woods, after Jake Runestad's piece and John Muir’s words, was a great launching point.”
Can you tell us why it took so long to release this recording?
“I actually edited and produced the CD on my own computer software years ago. We finally had time to get back to our engineer, David Trimble, and really work with it. Even though I had already assembled and listened to it, it was also a start over with fresh ears. The pandemic gave us time.”
Is there a section in the piece Come to the Woods that you look forward to?
“There's a section later in the piece where Runestad pays a small musical tribute to Dominick Argento, one of his favorite composers. He does this by quoting a very special cadence point in the poetry. That's a spot where I find myself taking more time over the years with each new performance of the work.
“The choir sings, ’The setting sun filled them with amber light and seemed to say. And when he sets and seemed to say.’ That’s the final sung cadence of Walden Pond, and I get goose bumps thinking about it. I remember the first time I heard it. I ran to the piano with my score just to make sure I heard it right.”
Can you tell us about Dominique Argento's Seasons?
“I thought it was important to put Dominic’s last work in this collection. I get choked up a little bit thinking about the final movement, ‘Summer,’ and it being his last work. I don't know if he wrote them in that order poetically, but I love the idea that he wrote ‘Summer’ last. His last words were, ‘Soon, the goddess of summer sees that all is proceeding as planned, though reluctant to leave, she nods and sadly bestows her loving benediction.’”
Why did you chose Moira Smiley's Stand in That River?
“She is such a breath of fresh air in her approach to writing, sharing and recognizing global traditions in her music. This piece definitely comes back to American folk music.
“On this recording, the departure for us wasn't so much the piece itself, but that we included a bass, guitar, guiro, cajon and mandolin. Those five instruments are all played by one of our baritones, Paul Winchester. The end result was infectious, which is not the best word to use these days, but I think it’s very likable.”
To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.
The Singers — Come to the Woods (The Singers Store)
Matthew Culloton (official site)
The Singers (official site)