Joined by the VOCES8 Foundation Choir and Orchestra conducted by Barnaby Smith, internationally acclaimed, Grammy-nominated ensemble VOCES8 is pleased to release its new album ‘A Choral Christmas’ on Decca Classics ztoday. Capturing the essence of Christmas, the album is packed full of choral/orchestral world premieres and fresh arrangements of favourite carols, breathing new life into Holiday classics, and lending a luxurious, and contemporary cinematic sparkle to this year’s festive season.
The tracklist features eight world premiere recordings: the album’s substantial five-movement centrepiece, ‘Magnificat’, by rising American composer Taylor Scott Davis, which will be premiered at Carnegie Hall, New York in May 2024; an intimate and serene new a cappella carol, ‘The Sleeping Child’, written especially for VOCES8 by British composer Bob Chilcott; six sparkling new carol arrangements for choir and orchestra including ‘Joy to the World’, ‘Silent Night’, ‘O Come, All Ye Faithful’ – five penned by Taylor Scott Davis and ‘Gabriel’s Message’ by Jim Clements.
The album ends with two fun-filled instrumental encores including Leroy Anderson’s Holiday favourite ‘Sleigh Ride’ and Thomas Hewitt-Jones’ medley ‘A Christmas Cracker’. The album features a solo from violinist Thomas Gould and solos from renowned British/German violinist Jack Liebeck who also guest leads the VOCES8 Foundation Orchestra.
Conducted by Co-founder, Artistic Director and Countertenor of VOCES8, Barnaby Smith, these ravishing performances were recorded in 2021, originally for the widely acclaimed LIVE from London festival, an online series described as “One of the brightest deeds of the lockdown” by the Financial Times. Barnaby explains: “This music filled my life with the joy I needed in 2021, and I sincerely hope it brings you fun and festive cheer. I’m thrilled it has found a life beyond its original conception and proud to set it free into the world, where I hope it will reach as many households as Santa himself.”
“VOCES8’s gorgeous sound, impeccable ensemble and intense responsiveness to text, harmony and melodic shape is all of the highest quality. Hearing them sing is a joy.” (BBC Music Magazine)
The album releases hot on the heels of VOCES8’s recent appearance at the Royal Albert Hall for the BBC Proms 2023 alongside label-mate Ola Gjeilo, a collaborative album ‘Home’ with GRAMMY-winning composer Eric Whitacre and their own a GRAMMY nomination in the Best Choral Performance category for their 2022 Decca Classics/Decca Gold recording of Christopher Tin’s ‘The Lost Birds’ featuring the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Acclaimed around the world for their skill, subtlety, panache and impressive range of musical styles, the ensemble’s recordings have also received accolades such as a Diapason d’Or and two ECHO Klassik Awards. The group’s new season touring includes European venues such as Wigmore Hall and Vienna Konzerthaus, three tours to the US and a return tour to Australia including the Sydney Opera House.
Composer and arranger Taylor Scott Davis, praised for his ability to create “dreamy vocal lines” by the Wall Street Journal and “sonically luxurious” music, recalls the recording of his ‘Magnificat’ and the exhilarating rush to craft the carols for VOCES8‘s LIVE From London festival in 2021. He describes the project as “a blend of fun and challenge, culminating in a magical performance by the orchestra and choir that now feels like a dream I won’t soon forget”.
VOCES8‘s CEO, Paul Smith, expresses his excitement for the album, stating: “This album brings together many of my favourite Christmas songs and carols in arrangements that showcase the unique VOCES8 sound. Our goal was to create an album full of Christmas cheer and warmth during what can be a stressful time of year for many. We had a great time recording it and hope that joy comes through to listeners.”
1. Joy to the World *
2. Away in a Manger *
3. Chilcott: The Sleeping Child *
4. O Come, All Ye Faithful *
5. Davis: Magnificat: I. Magnificat anima mea *
6. Davis: Magnificat: II. Shall I Rejoice *
7. Davis: Magnificat: III. Et misericordia *
8. Davis: Magnificat: IV. Deposuit *
9. Davis: Magnificat: V. Gloria Patri *
10. O Come, O Come Emmanuel *
11. Silent Night *
12. In Dulci Jubilo
13. Gabriel’s Message *
14. Hewitt Jones: A Christmas Cracker
15. Anderson: Sleigh Ride
*World premiere works & arrangements
Tracks 1, 2, 4, 10, 11 arranged by Taylor Scott Davis
Track 13 arranged by Jim Clements
Tracks 2 and 11 featuring Jack Liebeck (violin)