Skip to content

The Crossing Releases New Recording Evolutionary Spirits

June 13, 2019

Featuring Works by Composers Edie Hill, Gregory W. Brown,
James Shrader, Bruce Babcock, Jonathan Sheffer,
and Christopher J. Hoh

Released June 28, 2019 on Navona Records

“Such is their radiant sound and the vibrancy of the repertory
they’ve cultivated, it’s gotten to the point I’d hear anything this
Philadelphia vocal ensemble sings.” – The New York Times 

PHILADELPHIA, PA (May 29, 2019) — On Friday, June 28, 2019, Navona Records releases EVOLUTIONARY SPIRITSa new recording from Grammy-winning new-music choir, The Crossingfeaturing works by six contemporary composers: Edie Hill, Gregory W. Brown, James Shrader, Bruce Babcock, Jonathan Sheffer, and Christopher J. Hoh. Exploring humanity in all its facets, EVOLUTIONARY SPIRITS grapples with aspects of life, both mortal and eternal, drawing texts from a variety of sources including songs of praise from the Biblical era, a reimagining of a Shakespearean sonnet, and contemporary poetry.

Evolutionary Spirits album cover 2019

Evolutionary Spirits album cover 2019

EVOLUTIONARY SPIRITS taps the breadth and depth of The Crossing as they approach a dazzlingly wide scope of styles and unique compositional voices. The true strength of this collection lies in its aural reflections on the human condition, the relationship between humanity and the Divine, and our connections to the past, present, and future.

Described as “flat out beautiful” and “full of mystery,” Edie Hill’s music is performed all over the globe. Venues where her works have been performed include Lincoln Center, LA County Museum of Art, Library of Congress, and many more. Hill ran and grew a Minnesota Mentorship Program for gifted high school composers. She has also been Composer Mentor for MN Varsity, a program for composers 14-18 years of age co-sponsored by The American Composers Forum and Classical Minnesota Public Radio.

Gregory Brown’s 2015 album of original choral and vocal works, MOONSTRUNG AIR, was Q2’s Album of the Week, which noted that “the pieces ring like higher-power-bells, those of science, faith and the human voice.” MISSA CHARLES DARWIN was recently re-issued in a special edition to coincide with the publication of his brother Dan Brown’s newest novel Origin, in which it makes an appearance. Brown’s cantata un/bodying/s was premiered by The Crossing in June 2017. This work for 24 voices uses new texts by poet Todd Hearon and focuses on issues of displacement and ecology around the creation of the Quabbin Reservoir.

James Shrader is a retired Professor of Music at Valdosta State University in Valdosta, GA, and has also taught at Northwestern Oklahoma State University and Texas Tech University. He was a visiting professor at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. For 13 years, Shrader was Director of Music and Fine Arts at the First Baptist Church of Greater Cleveland. He is past president of the Fellowship of American Baptist Musicians and past-president of the Cleveland Institute of Music Alumni Association.

Bruce Babcock has spent his working life composing music for the musicians of Los Angeles, earning numerous TV music awards and nominations. Successful in film, television, and the concert hall, he is known for vibrant, sonorous, expressive pieces that immerse audiences and performers alike in an inclusive and exuberant celebration of the musical art. Babcock’s music was applauded by Aaron Copland in 1975, when Copland praised him for  “an impression of musicality which is very pleasant, indeed…a convincing sense of an overall mood…knows what he wants…sure of what he’s doing.”

Jonathan Sheffer graduated from Harvard University, where his teachers included Leonard Bernstein, and later attended The Juilliard School and Aspen School of Music. He has composed three musicals, an award-winning opera, and several Hollywood and international film scores. He founded the Eos Orchestra in New York, which received an ASCAP Adventurous Programming Award as a laboratory of new programming ideas. Eos toured nationally, performed at the White House, and was the focus of a PBS Special and the recipient of a Grammy nomination.

Christopher J. Hoh’s work ranges from a cappella compositions for advanced choruses to simple accompanied pieces for church choirs. Navona also recorded his choral set Remembering All on its album CADENCE for the Carl Sandburg semi-centennial in 2017. The Stuttgart German-American chorus commissioned his extended setting of the “O Antiphons” for choir & organ, while his cycle “I Breathed A Song” for mezzo-soprano, baritone sax, and piano premiered at Vienna’s Musikverein. Hoh served in the U.S. Foreign Service and Department of State for 34 years.

About The Crossing
The Crossing
 is a Grammy-winning professional chamber choir conducted by Donald Nally and dedicated to new music. It is committed to working with creative teams to make and record new, substantial works for choir that explore and expand ways of writing for choir, singing in choir, and listening to music for choir. Many of its over eighty commissioned premieres address social, environmental, and political issues.

Highly sought-after for collaborative projects, The Crossing first collaborated with the Spoleto Festival, Italy, as its resident choir in 2007. The Crossing has appeared at Miller Theatre of Columbia University with the International Contemporary Ensemble, with whom they have appeared at the Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center, The National Gallery in Washington, and The Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. The Crossing joined Bang on a Can for its first Philadelphia Marathon, and has sung with the LA Philharmonic, American Composers Orchestra, Network for New Music, Lyric Fest, Piffaro, Tempesta di Mare Baroque Chamber Orchestra, PRISM Saxophone Quartet, Toshimaru Nakamura, Beth Morrison Projects, Dolce Suono, Allora & Calzadilla, Pig Iron Theatre Company, and The Rolling Stones. Venues include National Sawdust, Disney Hall in Los Angeles, Cleveland Museum of Art, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall, Northwestern University, Colgate University, and the Winter Garden in New York with WNYC. The Crossing holds an annual residency at the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center in Big Sky, Montana, where they are working on an extensive, multi-year project with composer Michael Gordon and filmmaker Bill Morrison. Their concerts are broadcast regularly on WRTI, 90.1 FM, Philadelphia’s Classical and Jazz Public Radio. In the 2018-19 season, they made their debut with the New York Philharmonic, Park Avenue Armory, and Peak Performances at Montclair State University.

The Crossing has presented over seventy commissioned world premieres. Major new works have included Michael Gordon’s Anonymous Man (2017), Michael Gilbertson’s Born (2017), Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s Ad genua (2016), Lansing McLoskey’s Zealot Canticles (2017), Caroline Shaw’s To the Hands (2016), John Luther Adams’ Canticles of the Holy Wind (2013, co-commissioned with Kamer), Gavin Bryars’ The Fifth Century (2014, written for The Crossing and PRISM), Stratis Minakakis’ Crossings Cycle (2015/2017), Gregory Brown’s un/bodying/s (2017), David Lang’s statement to the court (2010), Lewis Spratlan’s Hesperus is Phosphorus (2012, co-commissioned with Network for New Music), Ted Hearne’s Sound From the Bench (2014, co-commissioned with Volti) and, from Kile Smith, The Arc in the Sky (2018), The Consolation of Apollo (2014), The Waking Sun (2011), and Vespers (2008, a commission of Piffaro). In 2016, The Crossing presented Seven Responses with new works including those of David T. Little, Hans Thomalla, Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen, and Santa Ratniece. That same year, The Crossing commissioned and presented Jeff Quartets, a rare compilation of quartets from fifteen of the world’s leading composers, presented as a concert-length set and collected in an omnibus edition. In June 2019, The Crossing will present its largest project to date – Aniara: fragments of time and space, a collaboration with Klockriketeatern in Helsinki, and composer Robert Maggio. Future projects include composers Toivo Tulev, Edie Hill, Daniel Felsenfeld, Tawnie Olson, James Primosch, Stacy Garrop, Jacob Cooper, and Aaron Helgeson.

With a commitment to recording their commissions, The Crossing has fifteen commercially-released recordings, two Grammy Awards, and three nominations. Their collaboration with PRISM, Gavin Bryars’ The Fifth Century (ECM, October 2016), was the winner of the 2018 Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance and named one of The Chicago Tribune’s Top 10 Classical CDs of the 2016. Lansing McLoskey’s Zealot Canticles won the 2019 Grammy and Thomas Lloyd’s Bonhoeffer (Albany 2016) was nominated for the 2017 Grammy, both as Best Choral Performance.

The Crossing, with Donald Nally, was the American Composers Forums’ 2017 Champion of New Music. The Crossing’s commission Sound from The Bench by Ted Hearne was named a 2018 Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Music. They were the recipient of the 2015 Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence, three ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming, as well as the Dale Warland Singers Commission Award (with composer Joel Puckett) from Chorus America.


1. Edie Hill – Poem for 2084 (5:38)

2. Gregory W. Brown – Entrai, pastores, entrai (5:24)

3. James Shrader – Angels Sang With Mirth and Glee (3:09)

4. Bruce Babcock – Be Still (4:43)

Gregory W. Brown – Vidi Aquam
5. To Stir Up Our Wits (3:01)
6. Observing Nature (7:57)
7. Asking of Nature (5:01)

8. Jonathan Sheffer – y’did nefesh (5:36)

9. Christopher J. Hoh – To Elliott (2:31)

10. Christopher J. Hoh – My Mistress’ Eyes (5:40)

11. Edie Hill – Marvellous Error! (3:06)

12. Gregory W. Brown – Five Women Bathing in Moonlight (5:03)

The Crossing
Donald Nally, conductor
John Grecia, keyboards

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: