As Water Ascends to a Cloud: Music by Pacific Northwest Composers

Thomas Lerew, ACDA Choral Journal, Recorded Sound Reviews, August, 2015

As Water Ascends to a Cloud:
Music by Pacific Northwest Composers
Opus 7 Vocal Ensemble
Loren W. Pontén, conductor
Gothic G-49285 (2013; 73’48”)

As Water Ascends to a Cloud features a plethora of compositional styles and genres by composers of the Pacific Northwest United States and Canada, masterfully recorded by Loren Pontén and the Opus 7 Vocal Ensemble. According to the CD notes, “This CD is an anthology of choral works…that represents the diverse cultural, social, and geographical influences of the region.” Many of the texts are based on excerpted poems or traditional folk tunes. Of the seventeen works included in this album, eleven are world-premiere recordings, and nearly half were composed specifically for Opus 7. The twelve composers on the disc include David Asplin, William Bergsma, Stephen Thomas Cavit, Lorri Kristin Froggét, Ron Jeffers, Bern Herbolsheimer, Alan Hovhaness, John Muehleisen, Robert Scandrett, Roupen Shakarian, and Joan Szymko.

The ensemble exhibits considerable flexibility and understanding in accommodating the diverse styles and textures encountered. Opus 7 utilizes nuanced contrast in tone between genres, from the pinpoint intonation of the centerpiece work As Water Ascends to a Cloud to the playful, tongue-in-cheek Eat Your Vegetables! and the esoteric sonorities of Ubi caritas. The use of trumpet, clarinet, and organ adds to the sonic variety of the album as well.

Opus 7 brings the highest level of artistry to an eclectic mix of contemporary compositions in this recording. Chorus America and ASCAP have both recognized Opus 7 for its “adventurous programming” and performance excellence. Further program notes on the individual works of this album can also be found through Gothic Recordings at http://www.

Thomas Lerew
Tucson, Arizona