Next month, the Harvard University Choir will release its seventh CD, “Choral Music of Amy Beach and Randall Thompson.” Recorded in London’s 12th century Temple Church while the choir was on its European tour last summer, the CD includes noted American composer Amy Beach’s three-movement a cappella motet, “Help us, O God,” and “Alleluia” by former chairman of Harvard’s music department Randall Thompson ’20.
“This may well be one of the best recordings the Harvard University Choir has ever made,” said University organist and Choirmaster Murray Forbes Somerville, “with a uniquely fortunate combination of recording location, production team, and repertoire.” Recorded on the European label ASV, the choir was helped to sound their best by BBC Radio 3 producer Lindsay Kemp.
Born in 1867, Amy Cheney debuted as a pianist with the Boston Symphony when she was 18, later marrying Henry H.A. Beach, a prominent member of the Medical School faculty. After her husband’s death in 1910, Beach moved to New York City, where many of her church anthems were written for St. Bartholomew’s Church on Park Avenue. She is also noted as a composer of chamber and symphonic music, and wrote a Mass in E-flat for chorus and orchestra.
A prolific composer, Thompson’s works “Frostiana” and “Alleluia” are regarded as American choral classics.
“What a privilege,” said Somerville, “being able to devote two perfect summer evenings in this musical oasis in the center of London to record this glorious music with its rich Harvard connections.”
“Choral Music of Amy Beach and Randall Thompson” can be ordered by calling the church music office at (617) 495-8597.