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The Crossing Releases 'The Tower and The Garden' Feat. Works By Gregory Spears, Joel Puckett, And Toivo Tulev

The album will be released on Friday, February 12, 2021.

On Friday, February 12, 2021, GRAMMY-winning choir The Crossing, led by Donald Nally, releases its 23rd commercial album, THE TOWER AND THE GARDEN on Navona Records.

The album features Gregory Spears' The Tower and the Garden, Joel Puckett's I enter the earth, and Toivo Tulev's A child said, what is the grass? All three virtuosic works were written for and premiered by The Crossing, which has commissioned over 110 works since its inception. The Crossing's latest release on Navona, CARTHAGE, is nominated for a 2021 GRAMMY Award for Best Choral Performance. Navona Records will pre-release the first movement of Spears' The Tower and the Garden on January 29 and Tulev's a child said, what is the grass? on February 5, 2021.

Toivo Tulev's A child said, what is the grass? was premiered by The Crossing's annual festival of new choral music, The Month of Moderns, in 2015. Tulev sets poetry from Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself" from Leaves of Grass. In the poem, Whitman tries to answer a child's simple question, "What is the grass?," concluding, "to die is different from what anyone supposed, and luckier." In reviewing the premiere, The Philadelphia Inquirer described the piece as, "a triumph of internationalism, never resorting to any false Americana while dramatizing Whitman's words, but creating distinctive musical symbolism with the composer's characteristically complex, high-style harmonies." A child said, what is the grass? was commissioned by The Crossing with support from the Estonian Ministry of Culture.

Gregory Spears' The Tower and the Garden (2018) is a setting of three poems for choir and strings based on texts of Thomas Merton, Keith Garebian, and Denise Levertov. The subject matter explores the relationship between technological innovation and its dangers that can often lead to haunting sociological change, juxtaposing the dangers of unchecked technological advancement (the tower) and the need for a place of refuge (the garden) in a world threatened by war and ecological disaster. The first text, written by Trappist monk and social activist Thomas Merton, is a meditation on the garden of Gethsemane and the search for truth amidst the uncertainties of the modern world. The second movement sets a poem of Catholic activist Denise Levertov - a meditation on the Tower of Babel and the dangers of technological collapse. The final poem, written by Keith Garebian, is an homage to queer filmmaker Derek Jarman and his small cottage garden at Dungeness, England. Situated precariously between a nuclear power plant and the sea, the cottage and garden were Jarman's austere refuge during the final months of his struggle with AIDS. The Tower and the Garden was commissioned through a grant from the Ann Stookey Fund for New Music.

Joel Puckett's dizzying, entrancing I enter the earth was also premiered at The Month of Moderns 2015. Puckett set words spoken by a shaman of northwestern Botswana in 1971. The words were recorded in Dr. Marguerite Anne Biesele's 1975 Harvard PhD dissertation, Folklore and ritual of Kung hunter gatherers, and read "When people sing ... I enter the earth. I go in at a place like a place where people drink water. I travel a long way, very far. When I emerge, I am already climbing." I enter the earth was commissioned through an award from Chorus America: The Dale Warland Singers Commission Award, funded by the American Composers Forum.

The Crossing is a GRAMMY-winning professional chamber choir conducted by Donald Nally and dedicated to new music. It is committed to working with creative teams to make and record new, substantial works for choir that explore and expand ways of writing for choir, singing in choir, and listening to music for choir. Many of its nearly 110 commissioned premieres address social, environmental, and political issues.

The Crossing collaborates with some of the world's most accomplished ensembles and artists, including the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, American Composers Orchestra, Network for New Music, Lyric Fest, Piffaro, Beth Morrison Projects, Allora & Calzadilla, Bang on a Can, Klockriketeatern, and the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE). Similarly, The Crossing often collaborates with some of world's most prestigious venues and presenters, such as the Park Avenue Armory, Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Pennsylvania, National Sawdust, David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center, Disney Hall in Los Angeles, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Menil Collection in Houston, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Haarlem Choral Biennale in The Netherlands, The Finnish National Opera in Helsinki, The Kennedy Center in Washington, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall, Symphony Space in New York, Winter Garden with WNYC, and Duke, Northwestern, Colgate, and Notre Dame Universities. The Crossing holds an annual residency at the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center in Big Sky, Montana where they are working on an extensive, multi-year project with composer Michael Gordon and filmmaker Bill Morrison.

With a commitment to recording its commissions, The Crossing has issued 23 releases, receiving two GRAMMY Awards for Best Choral Performance (2018, 2019), and six GRAMMY nominations. The Crossing, with Donald Nally, was the American Composers Forum's 2017 Champion of New Music. They were the recipients of the 2015 Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence, three ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming, and the Dale Warland Singers Commission Award from Chorus America.

Recently, The Crossing has expanded its choral presentation to film, working with Four/Ten Media, in-house sound designer Paul Vazquez of Digital Mission Audio Services, visual artists Brett Snodgrass and Steven Bradshaw, and composers David Lang and Michael Gordon on live and animated versions of new and existing works. Lang's protect yourself from infection and in nature were specifically designed to be performed within the restrictions imposed by the Covid 19 pandemic.

The Crossing is represented by Alliance Artist Management. All of its concerts are broadcast on WRTI, Philadelphia's Classical and Jazz public radio station. Learn more at

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