Sound Over All Waters
Renowned organist, pianist and choirmaster Paul Halley teams up with singer Theresa Thomason to produce "Sound Over All Waters", a stunning CD of sacred and gospel music. The CD also features the choir Kerámion. The serendipitous pairing of these two diverse talents, Thomason's vocal artistry and Halley's compositional brilliance, results in new music that is as exciting as it is engaging. Although from radically different musical backgrounds, she from the gospel tradition, he from classical choral and Anglican traditions, the feeling of joy and spontaneity that emanates from this album bespeaks a perfect collaboration. Halley performs on various keyboards and composed much of the music on the CD, setting poetry and other selections to majestic, graceful melodies and arrangements. From the first exuberant track, "The Rain Is Over and Gone" based on verses from the Song of Solomon, to the starkly simple arrangment of th final song, "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing," Halley and Thomason present a seamless unity of passion and praise, blending the old and the new in a CD replete with respect for the content. Thomason's vibrant and powerful voice rings with sincere devotion. She is a versatile performer, interpreting everything from Bible verses to gospel to the poetry of Wendell Berry and John Greenleaf Whittier with just the right degree of exquisite expression. About Paul Halley: PAUL HALLEY, M. A. Cantab, FRCO, ARCT, Paul Halley was born in Romford, England in 1952 and received his early musical training in Ottawa, Canada. At the age of sixteen, he was made an Associate of the Royal Conservatory of Toronto. Having been awarded the organ scholarship at Trinity College, Cambridge, Halley received his M.A. with prizes in composition and performance, and was made a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists, winning first prize in the College examinations. Via a circuitous route involving two years teaching in Jamaica, W.I., Halley became Organist and Choirmaster at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City where he served for twelve years, from 1977 to 1989, transforming the Cathedral's music program into a rich combination of classical and contemporary music. Concurrent with his tenure at the Cathedral, Halley became a principal member of The Paul Winter Consort, and earned six Grammy Awards for his contributions as featured writer and performer on many Consort recordings. Following his departure from the Cathedral in 1989, Halley settled in rural northwestern Connecticut and founded Joyful Noise, Inc., the non-profit organization which administers the activities and tours of the children's choir, Chorus Angelicus, and the adult ensemble, Gaudeamus. In 1999, Halley became Director of Music at Trinity Episcopal Church, Torrington, CT where he inaugurated the Choral and Organ Scholars program in conjunction with Yale University's Institute of Sacred Music. In 2007, Halley relocated to Nova Scotia to become Music Director at St. George's Anglican Church, the Chapel of the University of King's College, and Atlantic School of Theology. Halley's choral and instrumental compositions are distributed internationally by Pelagos Incorporated, the recording, music publishing, and arts management company for which he acts as Creative Director. Halley's compositions have been performed and licensed by many notable artists and organizations including Sony Entertainment, Windham Hill/BMG Music, the New Jersey Symphony, John Williams and the Boston Pops Orchestra, The Louisville Symphony, Canadian Brass, Margie Gillis, Jennifer Muller and The Works, and numerous international band and choral festivals. Halley has received an ASCAP Composer Award each year since 1998, and his recordings and performances are frequently aired on NPR and CBC. Halley creates three to four new, commissioned works per year, and performs frequently as a guest artist in venues throughout North America. Halley lives with his wife and business partner, Meg Race, on the South Shore of Nova Scotia. They enjoy exploring the islands of Mahone Bay in a traditional Cape Cod catboat which rejoices in the name, "Magnificat". 'Hold to God's Unchanging Hand' is a lively gospel style song with a jazzy undertone while 'Sound Over All Waters' has a traditional feel. 'Circles,' a poem by Wendell Berry, is moodier, more contemporary, yet it is not out of place, remaining true to the overall spirit of the CD. 'Come Away to the Skies' has a swinging rolling melody with great rhythmic appeal. The mood shifts and changes with each song, but there is overall cohesiveness to the arrangements. Kerámion's performance meshes beautifully with Thomason' s singing; they have a clean, clear sound that supports and complements the solo voice flawlessly. They also get a chance to shine on their own with two familiar spirituals: 'Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen' and 'Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.' The penultimate track, 'Freedom Trilogy,' combines the talents of Thomason, Kerámion, the Choir of Sacred Sounds and members of Chorus Angelicus, the children's choir Halley founded. The track begins with the 16th century 'Kyrie,' sung in crystal clear harmony, which leads into to rousing South African hymns 'Haleluya! Pelo Tsa Rona' and 'Siyahambu.' The hymns break off to a lively percussion bridge, after which Thomason launches into a silk smooth up-tempo rendition of 'Amazing Grace.' The choruses and Thomason combine to bring the selection to a dramatic conclusion, and one might expect that to be the finale of the album. But the final track of solo voice and organ reminds us that no matter how we share our worship, faith is something that comes from each of us alone. This CD is an enriching experience regardless of your belief system; there is a universality in the musical expression that transcends denomination. Thomason's sincerity and enthusiasm shines though on each track.