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Mixed Company is written by Saint Paul Sunday staff, giving you a behind-the-scenes look at the show and the classical music they love. We welcome your online comments.

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June 21, 2006

"Time Unknown to Time Unknown"

Over the past several weeks, I’ve had the happy task of perusing all twelve of the Dale Warland Singers’ past Saint Paul Sunday appearances—from No. 001 (our very first program, etched for posterity onto three heavy quarter-inch reels) up through this week’s sublime No. 553, which you can hear here. We’re in the process of digitizing them for the SPS archive and other future projects, including a retrospective program that will draw from all of them, so stay tuned!

Each of the programs reveals this choir’s power to enthrall, whether the music being sung is quite early or freshly composed. And however worn the term “timeless” may be, it fits the music on this week’s program especially well—music that will outlive (or has already long outlived) its creators, or that, in different sense of the word, lifts us out of time altogether.

No music can achieve either, of course, unless it's brought to life by performers as responsive and inspired as these singers are. I won’t even try to describe the peculiar musical physics that conspire to make their time-suspensions possible, except to point to them and say they're miraculous. One opens up in the endlessly serene G-major conclusion to Howard Hanson’s “Prayer of the Middle Ages” (not too long after the choir sings “from time unknown to time unknown”). Morten Lauridsen’s “O Magnum Mysterium” is suffused with awe from beginning to end, sounding paradoxically centuries old and unmistakably of our own place and time. And when the Dale Warland Singers perform Carol Barnett's reimagination of the relatively straightforward Sacred Harp tune "McKay," it builds into an ecstatic celebration of creation's “rocks and hills and brooks and vales.”

These are just a few instances that especially captivated me. You’re sure to find your own...

Posted by Vaughn Ormseth at June 21, 2006 4:56 PM



Could someone tell me the name of the English composer whose piano work was featured on a Sunday in May of this year? The work was composed in 1996, and it was performed by a woman who said that she cherished it highly. I believe it was said that there is no recording of this music, which I found quite unique and beautiful.
Thank you,
Scott in Phoenix

By Scott at June 28, 2006 1:33 PM


The Warland program brought much needed magic and beauty into our lives this week as so many of your programs have done for years. i have been trying to find a recording of this great chorus singing Magnum Mysterium and the Kennedy tributes but have had little luck. How may I purchase this program on disc or MP2? We have discovered you online so now we can listen both in GA and in NM where we split our time. Thank you thank you. --Gabe Davidson

By Gabe & Jane at June 30, 2006 8:55 AM


Dear Scott, Thank you for posting! The work you're looking for is Thomas Adčs's "Traced Overhead," which was commissioned by the wonderful pianist who performed it for us a few weeks ago, Imogen Cooper. (See http://saintpaulsunday.publicradio.org/programs/598/ ) Though Ms. Cooper hasn't recorded it, there is a CD of the piece performed by the composer himself, which you may purchase from the Public Radio Music Source by going here: http://www.thestore24.com/Classical/SearchResults.aspx?sec=Work&search=Still+Sorrowing%2c+Op.+7

By Vaughn Ormseth at June 30, 2006 9:30 AM


Dear Gabe,
Thanks to you too for posting and for your warm regards. The two works you mention -- Morten Lauridsen's "O Magnum Mysterium" and Herbert Howell's "Take Him, Earth, For Cherishing" -- are not yet available on CD from the Dale Warland Singers *but* will be in early 2007 from Gothic Records as part of the choir's "Cathedral Classics" series of recordings. Most of the other works on the program you heard will be on this new realease as well.

By Vaughn Ormseth at June 30, 2006 9:46 AM