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MP3 St. James' Canterbury & Compostela Choirs; Davis Wortman, Christopher Jennings - Songs for the Centuries

Favorite Anthems of the Anglican Choral Tradition and beyond recorded live in Concert at St. James'' Church New York City

17 MP3 Songs in this album (56:09) !
Related styles: Classical: Choral Music, Spiritual: Hymns, Type: Vocal

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Sing is the first word you will hear in this concert, and the last, the Alpha and the Omega. “Sing” is an imperative and an invitation to pray and offer praise through the human voice, our most personal instrument. The singers here are parishioners of St. James’ Church who are devoted to the choir, as well as professional musicians who lead the congregation in song throughout the year. All of them have made the commitment to bring their spirit to lift up worship and “make a joyful noise.”

This unedited recording of a live performance demonstrates what our choirs sound like without artifice. It serves as a time capsule of the St. James’ choirs at the bicentennial of the church’s formation, offering to those who will celebrate our tricentennial a true record of the music heard at a typical Sunday service at St. James’ today.
The pieces were chosen to represent familiar anthems, newer songs, and works that extend as far back in time as our music library permits. Music from all of the liturgical seasons can be heard here. There are selections from the earliest Anglican services (the Agnus Dei from William Byrd’s Mass for 5 Voices) as well as pieces from active composers writing fresh music in a modern style (Joel Martinson’s “All Saints”).

Music of the Episcopal Church has a strong tradition and history of choirs made up of boys singing soprano and men singing the alto, tenor and bass parts. Although our soprano and alto sections are currently all women, we have adapted to the historic style for most of the music on this recording to retain the historically accurate flavor of the sound of a men and boys choir, eschewing vibrato in the treble parts. The effect is stunning, as the soaring treble descants at the end of the first piece, “Hymn to St. Cecilia” and in the penultimate work, “Be Still, for the Presence of the Lord, ” will attest.
It has been my privilege and an honor to spend the past 10 years of my professional career as the Music Director and Organist of St. James’ Church. Although we were without a pipe organ for many of those years, we have had a strong choral music program to support and fulfill the needs of worship throughout it all. Choral music has been featured at major feast days, responds to the church’s seasonal calendar, and provides the focal point for concerts in our Music at St. James’ series. The singers have an acute awareness that when they don their liturgical garb of choir robes, they have a responsibility to act as ministers, through song, to the congregation. It is my hope that this live recording captures their enthusiasm and dedication to this role. It is not just love of music that you will hear in this concert. It is the sharing of a great gift, freely given, for all to partake and enjoy.


E. Davis Wortman II, DMA
Director of Music and Organist St. James’ Church

The Canterbury Choir is the principal adult choir at the 9:10 a.m. Holy Eucharist on Sundays and is comprised primarily of volunteers. This choir sings a wide variety of musical styles, from anthems incorporating children’s choirs to complex Renaissance motets. The Canterbury Choir allows members to maintain a fairly flexible schedule, yet holds to a particularly high standard of choral excellence.

The Compostela Choir is comprised of auditioned professionals and volunteers who represent some of the finest choral singers in New York City. This choir sings each Sunday at the 11:15 a.m. service, maintaining the legacy of the Anglican choral tradition, which elevates the liturgy to a transcendent, otherworldly level. The Compostela Choir sings repertoire representing the finest sacred music from the Renaissance to the present day. In addition to leading the liturgy, the Compostela Choir offers distinctive concerts to the community as part of the Music at St. James’ series. Concert repertoire includes major choral works, often with orchestra, utilizing vocal soloists from the choir.

Christopher B. Jennings, MM, Associate Organist-Choirmaster and Music Associate for Children & Youth, assists the Director of Music in organ accompaniment and other aspects of the program, including direction of the choirs for children and youth and the handbell choir. Previous posts include Organist & Choirmaster, St. James’s Church, West Hartford, Connecticut and Assistant Organist, Trinity Church on-the-Green, New Haven, Connecticut. Mr. Jennings holds the Master of Music Degree from Yale University School of Music and Institute of Sacred Music. At Yale, he studied organ literature with Martin Jean and improvisation with William Porter. He was named the Robert Baker Scholar and the Frank Bozyan Scholar, and was awarded the Richard Paul DeLong Prize in Church Music. He holds the Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University, where he studied with Marilyn Keiser. While a student at IU, he received the Dean’s Award and won first prize in several national organ competitions. Mr. Jennings appears frequently as an organ recitalist, both in solo concerts and in duo concerts with his spouse, Brian Harlow. He has appeared on the television program Jeopardy as a “clue,” playing the famed E.M. Skinner organ at Yale’s Woolsey Hall, and was the featured artist at the Daughters of the American Revolution 2006 Continental Congress.

E. Davis Wortman II, DMA, Director of Music & Organist, has been an organist, concert recitalist, conductor, music director, organ design consultant and educator in a career spanning more than 25 years as a church musician. Dr. Wortman serves in a pastoral and professional manner, having received a thorough grounding in church music through graduate studies at the Yale University Institute of Sacred Music, followed by postgraduate studies at Yale Divinity School. He received his Doctorate of Musical Arts from Manhattan School of Music. Throughout his career, he has developed music programs, workshops and presentations focused on music’s integral part in the great liturgy of the church. He regularly presents educational forums to enrich the understanding of music’s role in worship and the church. His Music at St. James’ concert series features larger scale orchestral and choral liturgical works, displaying the talents of St. James’ Canterbury and Compostela Choirs and orchestra. Among his accomplishments with these forces was the American premiere in 2005 of the choral anthem Ens aeternum, by Franz Joseph Haydn, last seen in print in the 1850s. True to his roots as an organist, he designed and carried out the installation of the 96-rank Schoenstein organ for the bicentennial celebration of the founding of St. James’ in 2010.

The St. James’ Bicentennial Organ was built by Schoenstein & Co. of Benicia, California and designed by Mr. Jack Bethards, President of Schoenstein and Dr. Davis Wortman, Director of Music & Organist at St. James’ in the symphonic style. The instrument consists of 96 ranks and 5,538 pipes distributed through

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