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James Wood
Tongues of Fire

MDR Leipzig Radio Choir • Ear Massage Percussion Quartet
James Wood conductor
Yale Percussion Group • Robert Van Sice director

NMC D223

D147 Cover
James Wood is known for his wide-ranging activities as composer, conductor,and formerly as viruoso percussionist, and for a close association with an exceptionally broad spectrum of music from the middle ages to the present day.   In 1981 he founded the highly acclaimed New London Chamber Choir, of which he was principal conductor for over 25 years until his move to Germany in April 2007.   During the last 10 years he has worked regularly with the Netherlands Radio Choir, RundfunkChor Berlin, RIAS Kammerchor, SWR Vokalensemble, Champ d'Action and musikFabrik, and is also in demand as guest conductor from many international ensembles, choirs and orchestras throughout Europe.

James Wood has enjoyed close working relationships with many distinguished composers such as Iannis Xenakis, Mauricio Kagel, Kaija Saariaho, Gyorgy Kurtag, Alejandro Viñ, Steve Reich, Jonathan Harvey and Karlheinz Stockhausen.   As a composer his interests have led to a wide range of works for almost every conceivable genre.   He has realised commissions from such diverse sources as the Arditti Quartet, IRCAM, the ARD, Percussions de Strasbourg and the BBC Proms

Tongues of Fire (2001) is a work for symphonic chorus and percussion quartet, written for the 140th Anniversary of the Yale Glee Club.   Conscious of the enormous tradition of American university Glee Clubs, and the part that gospel and spiritual music has played in it, Wood emphasizes America's rich cultural diversity using the story of the Pentecost.   The central text from The Acts of the Apostles is set in various languages, starting in Latin-American Spanish and splintering off into Hebrew, Maori, Jamaican English, Latin, Hungarian, Russian, German and French.   A quartet of oil drums, plus cowbells, gongs, guiros and metal rods provide percussive timbral richness and power.   These combine with a variety of vocal styles, including chanting, singing, hissing and whistling, to give the work a tribal feel.

Percussion sextet Cloud-Polyphonies explores the movements of large formations of organisms – whether animals, insects, birds, fish, water, steam or crowds of human beings.   The first movement 'Starlings', is written for six marimbas and woodblocks, the second, 'Clouds', for metal instruments and prepared piano, and the third,'Buffalo', for drums, simantras and bullroarers.

MDR Leipzig Radio Choir
Soloists: Felix Plock bass
Kerstin Klein Koyuncu soprano
Jae-Hyong Kim speaker
Ear Massage Percussion Quartet
Diego Espinosa Cruz Gonzalez
Wim Vos
Lester Rodriguez Gomez
Enric Monfort Barbera
Yale Percussion Group
Directed by Robert Van Sice
Victor Caccese • Garrett Arney
Jonathan Allen • Mari Yoshinaga
Doug Perry • Cnstobal Gajardo

1. Tongues of Fire       24 30
     MDR Leipzig Radio Choir
     Ear Massage Percussion Quartet
     James Wood conductor

2. Starlings       7'27
3. Clouds       15'53
4. Buffalo       13'13
     Yale Percussion Group
     Robert Van Sice direcfor

     Total timing       61'05

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