For Your GRAMMY® Consideration
Artists: Sylvia McNair, Indianapolis Symphonic Choir,
Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, Eric Stark
Label: Naxos | 747313906574
For Your GRAMMY® Consideration
This collection of best-loved Christmas repertoire was recorded live at the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir Festival of Carols concerts in 2015 and 2016. GRAMMY award-winning vocalist Sylvia McNair adds her own unique beauty and warmth, and as ever, the programme celebrates the joys of the season with sparkling versions of family favourites. The tranquillity and magic of Christmas eve, heartfelt messages of hope, reconciliation and peace, and thrilling new compositions all combine to capture the celebratory excitement of the holiday season.
Soprano Sylvia McNair had spent years performing with esteemed orchestras and opera companies across the US and Europe. She has sung Bach’s Mass in B minor in the Vatican for the Pope, and received an invitation to the White House from an enthusiastic Hillary Clinton. She has appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the San Francisco Symphony and The Cleveland Orchestra, and has worked many times with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra conducted by Robert Shaw, the Boston Symphony Orchestra with Seiji Ozawa, the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra led by Leonard Slatkin and the New York Philharmonic with Kurt Masur.
Indianapolis Symphonic Choir
The Indianapolis Symphonic Choir, celebrating its 84th season in 2020-2021, is proud to be one of the nation’s most established and dynamic musical institutions. Among the most active symphonic choruses in the United States, the Choir reaches more than 20,000 persons each season through performances and education & community engagement programs. The 180 volunteer singers demonstrate the Choir’s commitment to musical excellence through their talent and dedication during each 11-month season. The Indianapolis Symphonic Choir was founded in 1937 at the request of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra to perform the great choral-orchestral repertoire. This continued partnership exhibits the very best of collaborative ideals – two independent arts organizations combining their strengths to create beautifully lasting musical results.
Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra
The Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra (ICO) advances and promotes music composed for the small orchestra through professional performances and education programs. Established in 1984, the ICO presents a concert series drawing on a body of musical literature spanning four centuries. Under the direction of Maestro Matthew Kraemer, the ICO has commissioned several new works and performed American and world premieres. The ICO’s Peacemakers work became the subject of an Emmy Award-winning PBS documentary in 2017. Offering a range of educational programs and professional accompaniment for area arts institutions, the ICO’s radio broadcast airs weekly on WFYI, 90.1.
Eric Stark has served as artistic director of the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir since 2002, and has guided the ensemble to wide acclaim, including on tour to Beijing, Shanghai and Rome and at Carnegie Hall. He received the state of Indiana’s highest civilian honour, Sagamore of the Wabash, in 2014, and has been named a Fulbright Scholar for 2020, when he will be teaching at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul in Porto Alegre, Brazil. In addition to his duties with the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir, Stark is also director of choral activities and professor of music at Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana.
“Most welcome of all is soprano Sylvia McNair, whose warm vocal presence has been absent from this reviewer’s CD shelf for some time (no doubt because she has been so busy performing all over the country, including here in Atlanta). She adds a special quality to such songs by contemporary composers as Mary, Did You Know? (Buddy Greene) in which the choir asks Jesus’ mother a series of poignant questions (“Did you know when you kissed your baby boy, then you touched the face of God?) and Grown-Up Christmas List (David Foster/Linda Thompson Jenner) with its plea for greater understanding and peace among people).” – Phil Muse, Audio Video Club of Atlanta, December 2019 Read complete review
“Recorded at the annual Indianapolis Symphonic Choir Festival of Carols in 2015 & 2016, it mixes old and new in well-loved Christmas music from around the world. Garbed in a wash of modern orchestral sound, it offers the GRAMMY award-winning soprano, Sylvia McNair, who brings us right up to date and into the popular music scene. With a liberal sprinkling of glitter dust over everything, and you have an updated view of a very traditional event. The enthusiasm of the performers flies out from this well-filled disc for your shopping list.” – David Denton, David’s Review Corner, November 2019
“I’m a sucker for big orchestral, opera superstar holiday blow-outs, the sort of Christmas albums Jessye Norman, the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Boston Pops used to put out. It seems that fewer orchestras are releasing Christmas spectaculars, so that makes the new Naxos release “Festival of Carols” even more welcome. Soprano Sylvia McNair headlines this tinsel-fest, which also features the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir and Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra. The album starts with a bombastic “Joy to the World,” and is followed by many delightful holiday songs in fresh and creative arrangements. McNair has several opportunities to shine, including in a unique rendition of “O Holy Night,” which has the choir singing a lush, sweeping backup. “Festival of Carols” is a rousing new disc to accompany the unwrapping of presents Christmas morning.” – Patrick Neas, KC Arts Beat, November 2019