Highly Recommended Album: SUMPTUOUS PLANET (by David Shapiro; performed by The Crossing Choir)

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by Connor McCormick on October 30, 2023

in CD-DVD,Music


On Friday, November 10, 2023The Crossing, one of our greatest choirs, will release SUMPTUOUS PLANETa virtuosic and spectacular concert-length work by composer David Shapiro based primarily on the writings of the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins (famous, in part, for his defense of atheism). Sumptuous Planet is an expression of belief about the nature of life and the joy we can find in understanding it, paradoxically told through a Christian Mass and Dawkins’ secular world view. The work is at times an impassioned romp; at others an intimate meditation.

This is the 31st studio album of The Crossing, the 24-voice choir that specializes in new music, comes on the heels of the choir’s third Grammy Award-winning album Born, while this month The Crossing was named 2024 Ensemble of the Year by Musical America.

The Crossing (Clara Weishahn)

David Shapiro writes of Sumptuous Planet:

Sumptuous Planet is a celebration of belief within a scientific view of life and the universe. It is constructed along the lines of a Christian mass, though a major textual source is a devout atheist, biologist Richard Dawkins. The work begins with a setting of physicist Richard Feynman’s lament that ‘The value of science remains unsung by singers. This is not yet a scientific age.’ From there, the piece proceeds to glorify the world as it really is, unadorned by myths or miracle stories. In other words, before the piece begins, we do not yet live in a scientific age. By the end, we do.”

Conductor Donald Nally observes: “David’s music moves effortlessly from dance to lament to celebration; it seems to be constantly discovering itself and hits the ear as if it is spontaneously created in the moment. Each movement of Sumptuous Planet is its own marvelous world; taken aa whole, his ‘mass‘ represents an entire life, indeed, an entire universe. It is a major addition to the choral canon and we’re so excited to bring this album to life.”

The work was commissioned by The Crossing and premiered in July 2022. The album was recorded January 2-6, 2023 at St. Peter’s Church in the Great Valley, Malvern, Pennsylvania. This marks The Crossing’s third release on New Focus Recordings, the first of which earned one of The Crossing’s eight Grammy nominations (of which they’ve won three).



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