Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

The Crossing to Release RISING W/ THE CROSSING On New Focus Recordings

Article Pixel

Rising w/ The Crossing will be released on Friday, December 11, 2020.

The Crossing to Release RISING W/ THE CROSSING On New Focus Recordings

On Friday, December 11, 2020, GRAMMY-winning new-music choir The Crossing releases its 22nd commercial release, Rising w/ The Crossing, on New Focus Recordings. The album features live concert recordings from The Crossing's archives, chosen by conductor Donald Nally for a 12-week series with daily releases at the time of Philadelphia's sunrise during the COVID-19 pandemic. Tracks include David Lang's protect yourself from infection; Joby Talbot's Lost Forever; ?'riks Ešenvalds' Translation; movements from Dieterich Buxtehude's Membra Jesu nostri, BuxWV 75 with baroque ensemble Quicksilver; Paul Fowler's First Pink; movements from David Lang's the national anthems with members of the International Contemporary Ensemble; Ted Hearne's What it might say; ?'riks Ešenvalds' Earth Teach Me Quiet with Edward Babcock on marimba; and Santa Ratniece's Horo horo hata hata. Physical CDs are available January 1, 2021, while Alex Berko's Lincoln will be released as a digital single on November 20.

Rising w/ The Crossing, in two editions which ran March through June and July through September 2020, featured a daily reflection from Nally on the process and environment of creating the work and/or performance. His 60 chapters gained national attention and the series was featured in The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Performance Today; it has been archived by The Library of Congress as a cultural artifact as an "important part of this collection and the historical record."

Donald Nally says, "'We really love singing together.' These are the words that came to me when viewing a Zoom screen of faces of my colleagues, as we let them know we couldn't sing together in March. Singing had been determined an unsafe activity at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic. Our response to this grief was to ask how we can continue expressing and gathering, how we can hold the community together, how we can ensure artists can pay their rents, how we can use what resources we have to rethink who we are at this moment. One of those resources is an archive of 15 years of live concert recordings; musical moments in our history that stand out as special or loved or fun or challenging or just calm at a time when calmness stands in relief against a background of chaos moving into the foreground at the beginning of the Great Shut Down. We wanted to feel like we were walking through this together, waking up and starting our day together, Rising w/ The Crossing. So, we began sharing these archived moments on March 16, each accompanied by my thoughts on why we love singing together, and why we love singing that day's music.

Summer passed, and, with it, the promise of our 2020-2021 Season. We found ourselves a part of social uprising, of a national reconciling, a previously unimaginable political contest, and a pandemic that had hold of the country and would not let go. As we looked at a completely re-imagined Fall and Winter, we wanted to ensure we remember this time, a time when routines and rituals like Rising w/ The Crossing felt like rudders in stormy seas, when communication was a gift, and when music... That time when music reminded us that we must never take it for granted. It is the bread by which we commune and the wine by which we are reminded that truth matters, words matter, Black Lives Matter, and singing together matters."

David Lang's protect yourself from infection (2019) was commissioned by Blast Theory for the Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia's exhibition, Spit Spreads Death: The Parade to remember the names of the thousands of Philadelphians who fell victim to the influenza pandemic of 1918 due to the ill-fated Liberty Loan Parade. This version was remixed by in-house sound designer Paul Vazquez in April 2020 for a timely new animated film by Brett Snodgrass with art by Steven Bradshaw. Watch the film at

Lost Forever (2000) by Joby Talbot features text by Roddy Lumsden (b. 1966) and was recorded live in concert at The Crossing @ Christmas on December 17, 2017 at The Crossing's home, The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill. The haunting text anchors the album's recurring themes of loss and isolation.

?'riks Ešenvalds' Translation (2016) was recorded live in concert at the July 2016 world premiere of Jeff Quartets, a set of 15 new works for four voices in memory of The Crossing's co-founder Jeff Dinsmore. The text is by Oregon poet Laureate Paulann Petersen and celebrates the moon as a reminder of the ephemerality of human lives set against the eternity of the universe.

Prior to Seven Responses in June 2016 - a project considering how we view the suffering of others across countries and styles, geographic regions and centuries - The Crossing sang no music older than 1976. The choir discovered that its focus on counterpoint and natural color married easily with the musical requirements of Buxtehude, and that the music taught the singers a lot about contemporary repertoire through singing music that forms the foundation on which contemporary music is built. Rising w/ The Crossing features two movements from Dieterich Buxtehude's Membra Jesu nostri, BuxWV 75 (1680), recorded live in concert at the Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral.

First Pink (2016) by Paul Fowler was also a Jeff Quartet. The piece sets to music a poem by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, which reads, "In the loss, is a branch with a brittle stem, where an old fruit hangs rust-colored and dried beside a tight cluster of rose-tipped buds, where something fragile and persistent is just beginning to open."

Rising w/ The Crossing includes two movements from David Lang's the national anthems (2014), recorded live in concert on November 13, 2017 at The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill. Lang says in the program note, "I had the idea that if I looked carefully at every national anthem I might be able to identify something that everyone in the world could agree on... What I found, to my shock and surprise, was that within almost every anthem is a bloody, war-like, tragic core, in which we cover up our deep fears of losing our freedoms with waves of aggression and bravado. At first I didn't know what to do with this text. I didn't want to make a piece that was aggressive, or angry, or ironic. Instead, I read and re-read the meta-anthem I had made until another thought became clear to me. Hiding in every national anthem is the recognition that we are insecure about our freedoms, that freedom is fragile, and delicate, and easy to lose. Maybe an anthem is a memory informing a kind of prayer, a heartfelt plea: There was a time when we were forced to live in chains. Please don't make us live in chains again."

Alex Berko's Lincoln (2018) was commissioned by The Cathedral Choral Society and conducted in its premiere by Donald Nally in March 2018 at Washington National Cathedral. The text appears on the dedicatory inscription in the Lincoln Bay at Washington National Cathedral by The Very Rev. Francis Bowes Sayre Jr. (1915- 2008), dean emeritus of the cathedral. The performance on this album was recorded live in concert at The Crossing's Month of Moderns in June 2018 at The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill.

What it might say (2016) by Ted Hearne is another Jeff Quartet, with words from D.W. Winnicott's "Communication between infant and mother, and mother and infant, compared and contrasted" (1896-1971). The piece is inspired by how a baby communicates creatively and in time becomes able to assess loss, ownership, and a sense of self.

?'riks Ešenvalds' Earth Teach Me Quiet (2013), recorded live in concert June 2017 at the IceBox Project Space at CraneArts in Philadelphia with percussionist Edward Babcock, is a study in texture and color in which a murmuring marimba and tuned water glasses miraculously synthesize with The Crossing's voices into a unified whole. The Ute prayer on which it is based is a study in humanness, told through metaphors of the natural world.

Santa Ratniece's horo horo hata hata (2008) for twelve voices uses text from Donald L. Philippi's book Songs of Gods, Songs of Humans and draws on the unusual bell-like sounds of Ainu lullabies and prayers. The Ainu worldview is ruled by both gods and evil spirits and their daily tasks are carried out in union with nature, birds, and animals. This recording is from a live concert in June 2013 at the Icebox Project Space.

About The Crossing
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 21 releases, receiving two Grammy Awards for Best Choral Performance (2018, 2019), and five 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

Rising w/ The Crossing Track List

1. David Lang (b. 1957) - protect yourself from infection (2019) [5:30]
2. Joby Talbot (b. 1971) - Lost Forever (2000) [3:46]
3. ?'riks Ešenvalds (b. 1977) - Translation (2016) [4:25]
4. Dieterich Buxtehude (1637-1707) - IV. Ad latus from Membra Jesu nostri, BuxWV 75 (1680) [8:10]
5. Paul Fowler (b. 1978) - First Pink (2016) [3:54]
6. David Lang - I. our land with peace from the national anthems (2014) [5:17]
7. Alex Berko (b. 1995) - Lincoln (2018) [5:45]
8. David Lang - IV. keep us free from the national anthems (2014) [4:09]
9. Ted Hearne (b.1982) - What it might say (2016) [4:34]
10. Dieterich Buxtehude - II. Ad genua from Membra Jesu nostri, BuxWV 75 (1680) [8:00]
11. ?'riks Ešenvalds - Earth Teach Me Quiet (2013) [7:18]
12. Santa Ratniece (b. 1977) - Horo horo hata hata (2008) [10:02]

Total Time: 70:50

Donald Nally, conductor
Kevin Vondrak, assistant conductor
John Grecia, keyboards
Edward Babcock, marimba (Track 11)
Quicksilver Baroque (Tracks 4 and 10)
International Contemporary Ensemble (Tracks 6 and 8)
Cover art by Steven Bradshaw

Related Articles View More Philadelphia Stories   Shows

More Hot Stories For You