Author Topic: Eric Whitacre  (Read 5907 times)

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scsinger01

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Eric Whitacre
« on: August 18, 2007, 08:48:02 AM »


An accomplished composer, conductor and lecturer, Eric Whitacre has quickly become one of the most popular and performed composers of his generation. The Los Angeles Times has praised his compositions as "works of unearthly beauty and imagination, [with] electric, chilling harmonies," while The Philadelphia Inquirer has called him "the hottest thing in choral music."

Though he had received no formal training before the age of 18, his first experiences singing in college choir changed his life, and he completed his first concert work, Go, Lovely, Rose, at the age of 21. Eric went on to the Juilliard School, earning his Master of Music degree and studying with Pulitzer Prize- and Oscar-winning composer John Corigliano.

Many of Whitacre's works have entered the standard choral and symphonic repertories and have become the subject of several recent scholarly works and doctoral dissertations. His works Water Night, Cloudburst, Sleep, Lux Aurumque and A Boy and a Girl are among the most popular choral works of the last decade, and his Ghost Train, Godzilla Eats Las Vegas, and October have achieved equal success in the symphonic wind community. To date, Whitacre's published works have received thousands of performances and sold well over 500,000 copies worldwide.

As a conductor, Mr. Whitacre has appeared with hundreds of professional and educational ensembles throughout the world. In the last ten years he has conducted concerts of his choral and symphonic music in Japan, Australia, China, Singapore and much of Europe, as well as dozens of American universities and colleges where he regularly conducts seminars and lectures with young musicians.

Most recently, Whitacre has received acclaim for PARADISE LOST, a cutting edge musical combining trance, ambient and techno electronica with choral, cinematic, and operatic traditions. Winner of the ASCAP Harold Arlen award, this musical also gained Whitacre the prestigious Richard Rodgers Award for most promising musical theater composer.

Whitacre has received composition awards from the Barlow International Composition Competition, the American Choral Directors Association and the American Composers Forum. His first recording, "The Music of Eric Whitacre," was hailed by The American Record Guide as one of the top ten classical albums of 1997. In 2001, he became the youngest recipient ever awarded the coveted Raymond C. Brock commission by the American Choral Directors Association. His music has been featured on dozens of commercial and independent recordings, and a full collection of his a cappella music was released in 2006 and earned a Grammy nomination for best choral performance.

Mr. Whitacre lives in Los Angeles with his wife, celebrated soprano Hila Plitmann and their son.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/mhAZ-fuObGc" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/mhAZ-fuObGc</a>
http://www.myspace.com/ericwhitacre


Eric Whitacre is one of my favorite chamber/a`capella composers to date. I've preformed his "May this Marriage" and "5 Hebrew Love Songs" and have seen "Godzilla eats los vegas" (very amusing).

Any other Whitacre fans around here?
« Last Edit: August 18, 2007, 10:11:46 AM by bhodges »

Offline Brewski

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Re: Eric Whitacre
« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2007, 10:14:59 AM »
I've only heard "Cloudburst" a few years ago by a very fine chorus in Philadelphia - a very imaginative piece (love the finger-snapping effect). 

But haven't heard much else other than that.  I do have the CD below, by the British chorus Polyphony with more of his work, but haven't listened to it yet.  (It's on the rather large "to listen to" pile... ;D)



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LaciDeeLeBlanc

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Re: Eric Whitacre
« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2007, 10:49:18 AM »
I love Eric Whitacre myself.  I've played a few of his pieces: Ghost Train, Lux Aurumque (arranged for Wind Ensemble), and October.  He's great, not to mention surprisingly good-looking  ;)

Offline Brewski

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Re: Eric Whitacre
« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2007, 10:59:11 AM »
I love Eric Whitacre myself.  I've played a few of his pieces: Ghost Train, Lux Aurumque (arranged for Wind Ensemble), and October.  He's great, not to mention surprisingly good-looking  ;)

Oh, I forgot that I've heard Lux Aurumque as well, by the Dale Warland Singers!  Very attractive piece, too. 



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scsinger01

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Re: Eric Whitacre
« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2007, 11:07:38 AM »
i think we're inline to at least attempt Lux this fall. That being said i think we're also expecting a defibrillator and a oxygen tank/mask at the ready as well. We BARELY got by May This Marriage....the breath support needed is just crazy.

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Re: Eric Whitacre
« Reply #5 on: August 18, 2007, 11:16:22 AM »
Interesting...I didn't realize they were so hard to sing!  But I guess those sustained sections are even more taxing than they sound. 

This is making me want to pull out the Polyphony CD later...

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scsinger01

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Re: Eric Whitacre
« Reply #6 on: August 18, 2007, 11:31:56 AM »
Interesting...I didn't realize they were so hard to sing!  But I guess those sustained sections are even more taxing than they sound. 

This is making me want to pull out the Polyphony CD later...

--Bruce

Well...5 Hebrew Love Songs isint incredibly difficult, but May this Marriage is extremely taxing because of the way it's written, no time signature. So it's full of rubato, and (the tenor line at least) has the extremes of pitch and volume, and with only 2 tenors to fill our section it was quite a challenge. That and the key it's in makes the a'capella very easy to go flat on, so you need even MORE support to keep pushin that back up.

Greta

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Re: Eric Whitacre
« Reply #7 on: August 18, 2007, 05:46:10 PM »
At least I wasn't the first to mention he is kind of, well, hot!  ;D

But seriously, fine American composer, glad to see he's becoming popular, I've been following him since the early 90s (when he was still an undergrad!) and hit it big on the wind ensemble scene with Ghost Train and Godzilla Eats Los Vegas. Performed the first one, which has some really nice effects, and saw a hi-lar-ious staging of Godzilla live, fun stuff!

It was great to see him become well-known in the choral area because he has a strong voice in that medium, if you've never heard his choir works they're contemplative, accessible, contemporary works with lovely melodies and dissonant harmonies juxtaposed with consonant to create a hazy, ethereal effect - I can definitely imagine they would be challenging, the sung pitches have to be "on" to get that resonance to sound, and totally unforced, and they are often sustained for long periods.

When David Heard is gorgeous, Lux Aurumque I love in all its forms (wind ensemble, choir, brass), but Cloudburst is a must-hear for how accurately he depicts a rainstorm with human-created sounds, singing, whispering, snapping for rain splatters (augmented by percussion for the thunder). Winter is also a very interesting work, influenced by Eastern music and sitar.

There is also this CD with Brigham Young, which has Cloudburst and a few different works as on the Polyphony CD, and many prefer it to that one:



scsinger01

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Re: Eric Whitacre
« Reply #8 on: August 18, 2007, 06:29:23 PM »
I can definitely imagine they would be challenging, the sung pitches have to be "on" to get that resonance to sound, and totally unforced, and they are often sustained for long periods.

couldnt have said it better. the music only sounds "right" if every singer is hitting that "dome of resonance" (as our director calls it) and creates all the overtones needed to blend in the music just the right way. Done well, it's AWESOME and you know it.

Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Eric Whitacre
« Reply #9 on: August 19, 2007, 04:12:49 AM »

 

--Bruce

Started to listen to Eric Whitacre last year - recommendation from the forum - currently own the two recordings pictured above (and mentioned by Bruce & Greta) - both are excellent & recommended -  :D

Offline Guido

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Re: Eric Whitacre
« Reply #10 on: September 17, 2008, 02:44:16 AM »
Which of his piece might be described as "works of unearthly beauty and imagination, [with] electric, chilling harmonies" ? Or is it all of them?
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lukeottevanger

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Re: Eric Whitacre
« Reply #11 on: September 17, 2008, 03:37:16 AM »
I'm going to call in my once-a-year right to be prejudiced and unfair - though I've never heard Whiteacre, I've avoided him thus far because I'm always suspicious of composers hyped in this way. My suspicion only increases when the inevitable 'Arvo Part comparison' card is played. Just as with the reams of books of a certain type which seem obliged to carry a comparison to The Name of the Rose on the front cover, but are never anything like it (it is, after all, a unique book) except in a vague literary-mystery kind of way, I've yet to hear any composer compared to Part who has anything like his focused, pure, honed and utterly personal craft. Grouping composers together in this way is a record company gimmick, and unfortunately it works - witness the frequent trotting out of Part's name in the cases of Vasks and Kancheli, even though neither shares anything with him of note. The linking of these two with Part (and Tavener/Gorecki) was a conscious ploy by record companies (according to Paul Hillier, who ought to know), and I suspect the same is happening with Whiteacre.

The last composer I'm aware of before Whiteacre who underwent this treatment was Morton Lauridsen. Fool that I was, I bought into it, and have never been so disappointed. As I've said before, and I mean this literally - my CD of Lauridsen actually makes me feel physically sick, each and every time that I try it (and I keep trying it because I try to be fair) -this queasy picket-fence luminosity he creates is literally nauseating to me! Here, the comparison to Part makes me wonder what kind of ears those making the comparison actually have.

So, I know I'm being deeply unfair in being suspicious of music I haven't even heard, but perhaps in avoiding Whiteacre I'm being fair in a deeper sense!

Offline Lethevich

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Re: Eric Whitacre
« Reply #12 on: September 17, 2008, 06:53:23 AM »
As I've said before, and I mean this literally - my CD of Lauridsen actually makes me feel physically sick, each and every time that I try it (and I keep trying it because I try to be fair) -this queasy picket-fence luminosity he creates is literally nauseating to me!

It is strange you mention that - I had the exact same reaction to Vasks's first symphony, oddly, a work which I later came to enjoy :D
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Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Eric Whitacre
« Reply #13 on: September 17, 2008, 03:31:57 PM »
I'm going to call in my once-a-year right to be prejudiced and unfair - .....

Hi Luke - amazing that this thread was revived after over a year!  :o

I bought into some of his CDs (and dumped a few, oh well) - but the two mentioned are worth hearing at least before an opinion is given - he really has a knack for choral music and it is pleasant - is he another Rutter?  I don't know, but my wife & I do love Rutter - maybe I should put these couple of discs I own 'on play' again (has been a year or more!) - and maybe you shoud at least give a listen before making a judgement, even though that opinion may be correct?  Peace - Dave  :)

Offline c#minor

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Re: Eric Whitacre
« Reply #14 on: September 17, 2008, 05:41:48 PM »
I do not particularly care for his instrumental works but his choral works are incredible. The first time i heard "sleep" was in my schools choir room. I walked in for my music appreciation class into the white room with raised ceilings and with lights on an incline. In the background this angelic sound filled the room and everyone in the class sat silent, with this distant look in their eye. To fully appreciate the gravity of all this is that this was a high school class more that halfway through the year. No one spoke, it was almost as if we did not acknowledge each other. Then it ended and one kid said in a quasi sarcastic voice, "Thats like "heaven" music", then everything went back to normal and everyone was talking and had the general sense of "i dont give a shit" attitude, as usual. Still one of the stranger experiences ive ever had.

Offline Christo

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Re: Eric Whitacre
« Reply #15 on: April 10, 2009, 09:25:24 PM »
- he really has a knack for choral music and it is pleasant - is he another Rutter? 

If Whitacre were comparable with Pärt, I would be interested. If Rutter is a better comparison, I would be rather scared off. For me, much of the superficiality Luke found in Morton Lauridsen applies to John Rutter as well.

Are they really fitting in the same category? I mean: Lauridsen, Rutter and Whitacre? In that case, I won't even try with Whitacre. But for many others this may work exactly the other way around, of course.  :)
… music is not only an 'entertainment’, nor a mere luxury, but a necessity of the spiritual if not of the physical life, an opening of those magic casements through which we can catch a glimpse of that country where ultimate reality will be found.    RVW, 1948

Offline Guido

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Re: Eric Whitacre
« Reply #16 on: April 11, 2009, 01:23:16 AM »
I would get the Polyphony Whitacre CD - apart from anything just the singing is amazing. They outclass the BYU singers in every way IMHO.

The choral works are incredible in a sense - the harmonies he creates are often absolutely gorgeous - lots of added note stuff, unexpected changes, always tonal. He is much better than Lauridsen in my opinion but he is nothing at all like Part, both in terms of style and achievement. I wouldn't say he was similar to Rutter either (who I'm not a fan of). He's not one of the 'greats' but he does have his own sound, limited though it may be in terms of range (they're almost all medium/slow very lyrical chorales), and you can't doubt his sincerity. One does wonder whether his music is all about the incredible surface luminosity (that is the right word) or whether it runs at all deeper, but I don't think you'll regret the purchase, if only to see what all the fuss is about.

I recently discovered the 70s Jazz a capella group 'voices unlimited' who might be the jazz equivelant if you know them.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2009, 01:27:24 AM by Guido »
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Kuhlau

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Re: Eric Whitacre
« Reply #17 on: April 11, 2009, 02:48:10 AM »
I do have the CD below, by the British chorus Polyphony with more of his work, but haven't listened to it yet.  (It's on the rather large "to listen to" pile... ;D)



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Don't worry, Bruce. I'm in the same boat. Too much music, too little time. Although I did sneak a listen of this CD's first track and was sufficiently impressed to want to hear more.

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Re: Eric Whitacre
« Reply #18 on: April 11, 2009, 03:00:38 AM »
Lux Aurumque is an interesting piece and a bitch to perform and keep in tune. Stretches the range of about every part. I have performed it with mixed chorus and male chorus, the latter was the real challenge.
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Offline Guido

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Re: Eric Whitacre
« Reply #19 on: April 11, 2009, 07:33:08 AM »
Don't worry, Bruce. I'm in the same boat. Too much music, too little time. Although I did sneak a listen of this CD's first track and was sufficiently impressed to want to hear more.

FK

One would hope that he had heard it in the intervening 2 years!
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