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TFC is simply one of the finest choirs in world
— Stephen Paulus
Maestro Taylor saw to it that every musical sob, sigh and moment of love-struck ecstasy got its full emotional due.
— Charleston Today
“Charleston has a world-class choir of its own
— American Record Guide
Dr. Taylor filled his musical canvas with the quietest singing I have ever heard. It was wondrous sound, yet it was as close to silence as sound can get. Delicate and stunning, and just one indication of the devotion of his chorus.
— Charleston Today
“Taylor is a rising star on the international choral scene.”
— Charleston City Paper
...many will be drawn to this simply because of the polish and intensity Taylor brings to his readings, and the way his choir responds with such potent empathy for the music.”
— Musicweb International (Coventry, UK)
(Cincinnati, OH)

(Cincinnati, OH)

 

"Two contrasting settings of the Ordinary of the

Mass, both influenced by traditional Celtic music.

Dublin born composer Michael McGlynn has

created a setting “seen though a folk music lens”

incorporating a variety of elements: Gaelic texts,

Celtic rhythms, and influences from Dufay to Britten

as well as the Bulgarian choral tradition. Amidst

the texts of the Ordinary, McGlynn “tropes”

movements in Gaelic and Latin: ‘Codhlaim go Suan’,

‘Alleluia’, ‘Ave Maria’, ‘Pater Noster’. Scored for

choir, soloists, organ, string quartet, and harp, it

displays an inventive and uniquely creative

treatment of the texts. Of particular note is the

ethereal Sanctus and the shimmering Agnus Dei,

which ends on a note of uncertainty, suggesting the

search for peace continues.

 

Sir James MacMillan, a prominent Scottish

composer, has achieved international status. He

has written music ranging from symphonies and

choral- orchestral works to chamber music for

instruments and voices, but choral music stands at

the center of his output. He has stated that “Music

seeks out the sacred—in  a sense, all music is

sacred” and his Mass reflects  his firm grounding in

the culture and heritage of his  native Scotland,

coupled with his devout Catholic faith.

 

 

Scored for choir and organ, it is the only one of his

three masses in the vernacular, and it also includes

settings of the Celebrant’s part —Sursum Corda,

Preface, Eucharist Prayer, and the Memorial

Acclamation.This marvelous music is mystical,

ecstatic, joyous. One wishes to hear it as part of a

real celebration of theEucharist. The movements

are unified by a motive in the tradition of

Renaissance Mass settings—a

rising fifth followed by a rising melisma—infusing

them with a sense of yearning. A climax is reached

in theSanctus that combines the motive,

contrapuntal rigor, and virtuosic organ flourishes to

create an atmosphere of choral ecstasy. Fine choir

in fine performances. Notes on the music and

texts."

 

-Robert Declamp 


(Coventry, UK)

(Coventry, UK)

"This is a disc of two settings of the Catholic Mass

by composers from the Gaelic countries of the

British Isles, performed by an American choir and

recorded by an American label not particularly

associated with recordings of church music. That in

itself makes this a fascinating release. But the

quality not only of the music but of the music-

making makes this a very special release indeed.

Irish composer Michael McGlynn focuses just about

exclusively on choral music, and describes his

musical language as combining “Irish and medieval

modality with a contemporary sensibility…fused

with jazz-tinged chordal clusters and a distinctive

melodic awareness influenced strongly by

traditional Irish singing”. His Celtic Mass was

written between 1989 and 1991 and combines the

usual sections of the liturgical Mass (sung in Latin)

with Gaelic verses for the Responsorial Psalm and

the Alleluia Incantations. It is performed here with

an instrumental accompaniment which not only

features a virtuoso organ part (wonderfully played

by Scott Bennett) but also a superb string sextet

supplemented occasionally by a harp. The Taylor

Festival Choir has been in existence since 2001

and while this disc seems to have been recorded in

two sessions a year apart (the documentation is

pretty sketchy in this area) and with two different

groups of singers, conductor Robert Taylor infuses

both the works on this disc with a degree of

intensity and visionary zeal which communicates

itself most powerfully in McGlynn’s somewhat misty

and often evocative writing. There are hints of Irish

folk music here, passages clearly derived from

traditional Irish singing, and some feeling of the

Irish folk music tradition in the instrumental

support. More significant is a very accessible yet

distinctive musical voice, which these singers

deliver with impressive conviction. The combination

of Celtic mysticism and Christian fervour proves to

be a heady mix, especially in this opulent and

spacious recording. In one word – lovely! James

MacMillan wrote his liturgical setting of the Mass in

2000 for the choir of Westminster Cathedral. It is,

to be pernickety, one of six Mass settings

MacMillan has so far produced (the booklet notes

suggest there are only three), and he revised it in

2013; so we could suggest there are now seven

distinct MacMillan Masses. Here, we have the 2000

version, and as such it brings us head-to-head with

the Hyperion recording by the work’s dedicatees

recorded in 2001. MacMillan has moved a long way

since this work first appeared, and I wonder now at

the strong hints of Duruflé which seem some

distance from MacMillan’s own very personal style.

Nevertheless this is deeply affecting and moving

music, once again powerfully delivered by these

committed and accomplished performers. The Mass

requires not just a virtuoso organ part – which

again is brilliantly brought to life by Scott Bennett

on what sounds to be a very fine organ indeed,

even if the recording does place it rather a long

way away for it to make the kind of impact the

Hyperion recording from Westminster does – but

also choral singing of the very highest order. It

certainly gets that here, with mature sopranos

clearly challenged – and meeting the challenge

head-on – by some of MacMillan’s more

extraordinary writing in the “Gloria”. Most

impressive of all is the spell-binding way in which

they build up to the cataclysmic outpouring of

waves of joy in the “Sanctus” (track 15 from around

1:15). Brandon Hendrickson, who sings the words of

the celebrant, is possibly a shade too operatic to

be convincing, and one would have liked something

a little less dramatic from him to underscore the

liturgical nature of the music and to contrast it with

the often awe-inspiring drama of the choral parts.

All told, this is a very impressive performance

indeed and one which makes a worthy addition to

the catalogue despite the presence of the

outstanding Hyperion disc. Many will be drawn to

this simply because of the polish and intensity

Taylor brings to his readings (and I certainly would

not want to be without the McGlynn Celtic Mass),

and the way his choir responds with such potent

empathy for the music."

 

-Marc Rochester

 


(Uccle, Belgium)

(Uccle, Belgium)

 

" These two masses have many points in common.

Each is divided into nine parts and both bask in a

serene atmosphere, where meditation and fervor

reign – an intimate fervor, internalized, far different

from those masses of the post-romantic era that

are almost always laden with Saint-Sulpician

ornaments and heavily backed up with orchestral

effects. On this note, the Scotsman James

MacMillan is probably more inclined than the

Irishman Michael McGlynn to seek out simplicity in

his melodic lines, perhaps conscious that the mass,

in the Catholic liturgy, is first and foremost the

celebration of its faithful, given form through such

parts as the Credo, the Pater Noster and the Agnus

Dei. He is himself a fervent Catholic and – in his

various interviews – does not hesitate to say that

all the music that he composes has something

sacred about it and that it is the expression of his

deepest religious convictions.

 

     The excellence of the recordings of these two

contemporary masses owes a great deal to Robert

Taylor, who founded this choir in Charleston, South

Carolina and who also directs the chorus of that

city’s symphony orchestra. In keeping with this

professional background, he has revived in

particular such little-known choral works of Ralph

Vaughan Williams as An Oxford Elegy and

Epithalamion, setting poems by Edmund Spenser.

You will recall that in 1922, the same Ralph

Vaughan Williams wrote his important Mass in G

Minor, which contributed to the renewal of British

religious music in the 20 th century – and we can

rightly place Michael McGlynn’s Celtic Mass and

James MacMillan’s Mass in its wake."

 

-- Jean-Baptiste Baronian

Translation by Dennis Adams, Sept. 13, 2016


(Cincinnati, OH)

(Cincinnati, OH)

"Full Disclosure: As the leading choral guru in my

hometown of Charleston, SC, Robert Taylor is

someone I think of as a friend as well as a fabulous

musician. Some years back, I sang in two of his

choirs, and have since heard (and reviewed) his

ensembles repeatedly in concert. You may thus

take what I have to say about this enchanting

album with a grain or two of salt. But consider his

solid record of accomplishments, which include

multiple appearances of his choirs (this one and his

College of Charleston Concert Choir) at the

national ACDA and NCCO conventions, where

merely getting invited is a major coup in the choral

world.

This excellent professional choir is the flagship

ensemble of Charleston’s annual Taylor Music

Festival: a celebration of both classical and Celtic

music that also presents international Celtic stars

like fiddler Liz Carroll, singer-songwriter John

Doyle, percussionist Danny Mallon, and harpist Kim

Robertson, among otherwise mostly Charleston-

based musicians; they all appear as guest artists in

this delightful holiday collection with a distinct Irish

twist. Sure an’ Begorrah, I’d bet good money that

you’ve never heard traditional Christmas music

before with their unique brand of Irish instrumental

verve and spirit.

The album’s heart is made up of classic British

carols and original settings of common holiday

texts. Among these, you’ll hear distinctive

arrangements of well-known fare like ‘Wexford

Carol’, ‘Coventry Carol’, and ‘Wassail’. Composer

Brian Galante contributes a richly evocative setting

of ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’. High points among

other original compositions include a stunning

account of Eric Whitacre’s a cappella masterpiece,

‘Lux Aurumque’ and the Sanctus from noted Irish

composer Michael McGlynn’s Celtic Mass. And just

wait until you hear the happy hijinks of ‘Mrs

Fogarty’s Christmas Cake’. Space considerations

preclude further exploration of this very original

program and all its wonderful performers. But even

if there’s only a wee bit o’ the Irish in ye, you’ll find

this to be a true pot o’ musical gold at the end of

the holiday rainbow."

 

-Lindsay Koob


(Charleston, SC)

(Charleston, SC)

"the event turned out to be such a spectacular

display of choral wizardry that I felt compelled to

tell the public about it"

 

-Lindsay Koob on the Taylor Festival Choir's

'Oktoberfest' performance (full article here)