"America's most astonishing choir," the Crossing, performs its Tiny Desk Concert
When the vocal ensemble named The Crossing — also known as "America's most astonishing choir" — warmed up behind the Tiny Desk, it reminded me once again how joyful and powerful it can feel to sing together with a group of people. Singing in a choir is a music-making activity shared by more than 54 million Americans, according to recent research by Chorus America.
While the Philadelphia-based choir and its forward-thinking director Donald Nally enjoy the accolades, including a pair of Grammy awards, the most important thing for them is the clear, precise singing of brand new music. They have commissioned and debuted nearly 110 new works by composers including Caroline Shaw, David Lang, John Luther Adams, Gavin Bryars and Shara Nova, whose brand new work, Titration, was the focus of this performance. The Crossing performed the work's world premiere in Montana just four days before visiting NPR.
Nova's music, which "looks at how we deal with difficult emotions," she says, requires a wide range of tone and color from the choir. Voices softly enter in translucent layers, a reminder of Renaissance traditions, or bark in a way that conjures up the early American shape-note singing style.
During sound check, Nally stopped the singers to coax a slightly different pronunciation or tweak a volume. And through it all, they sang with power and precision — and with smiles on their faces.
From Titration by Shara Nova
Turn Ya Head
Safety In Peril or Calm
I'm So Mad I Could Spit Nails
Donald Nally: conductor
Kevin Vondrak: assistant conductor
TINY DESK TEAM
Producer: Tom Huizenga
Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin
Director/Editor: Kara Frame
Series Creator: Bob Boilen
Series Producer: Bobby Carter
Videographers: Kara Frame, Joshua Bryant, Michael Zamora, Pierre Kattar
Audio Assistant: Neil Tevault
Production Assistants: Jill Britton
Tiny Desk Team: Suraya Mohamed, Marissa Lorusso, Hazel Cills, Ashley Pointer, Maia Stern
VP, Visuals and Music: Keith Jenkins
Senior VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann
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