Friday, September 11, 2009

Live, from New York, it’s… the Saint Thomas Tradition.

The men and boys choir of Saint Thomas Church on Fifth Avenue have an album, The Saint Thomas Tradition, that has been around for some time now and it’s worth looking at. Recorded back in 1978, this was first released as an LP but it must have been recorded digitally because the sound quality is good.

This is one of my favorite types of singing where there are many layers of voices each doing something different, each now and then bubbling to the top and then sinking into the background once more while another piece grows into prominence. I like to try and follow the different layers but it’s not easy because of the complexity of the compositions. It also has that beautiful resonance that comes from being recorded in a big cathedral.

The CD begins and ends with a couple of organ pieces by Marcel Dupre, that are pretty powerful. One is a Prelude and Fugue in G Minor and the another Prelude and Fugue in B Minor.

The rest of the songs are unaccompanied by music, but it is not noticeable at first. There are songs by Tallis and Purcell, Ned Rorem and others. The titles are mostly familiar ones. I'm not sure what I can say about them except that it all sounds really nice.

The 14 Men of the choir are professional singers; the 18 boys attend Saint Thomas Choir School, a boarding school situated in a striking building a block from Carnegie Hall. Approximately eight new boys are accepted each year.

There are some first rate singers in this choir. I expect that the talent pool in New York is a large one to choose from so it’s no surprise that the voices are excellent. After all, if they can make it there… well, you know the rest.


  1. I love listening to choral works several times in a row, each time concentrating on one vocal part, then, on how they each blend with the others. Although, as a bass-baritone, that's the part that always sounds most prominently in my ear.

  2. Bass-baritone, eh? Nice. That's such an important part of the music. It adds so much to the power of it all.
    Do you sing in a church choir?

  3. Good lord, no....the walls would come down around me! :-D

    Last "organized" singing I did was probably in university, many moons ago.