Here are some highlights from recent reviews of the digital EP release. I am grateful to the reviewers for taking the time not only to listen to the music, but to engage with the work in a meaningful way.
Update: two additional reviews.
Brown’s writing combines traditional polyphony with more angular melodic lines, with strong passing dissonances. The texture of the writing is relatively open, and the basic motivic ideas are often quite melodic. The result is very striking, a wonderful confluence of old and new polyphony and moments, like the Alleluia, are highly evocative.
[…]the performance is beautifully realised by New York Polyphony, the four voices are nicely balanced and the more complex harmonies well placed. Also, you don’t feel the lack of more voices, they make the piece work well with just a vocal ensemble. This is a fascinating piece, traditional polyphony re-interpreted for modern times.
[…]beautifully sung by a classical a cappella group called New York Polyphony. It’s really rather beautiful, and certainly…a unique concept, to say the least.
Ingeniously, and in a way that is boggling to my mind, the very genetic structure of the work reflects the work of evolution. The composer used the genetic sequence of Playspiza crassirostis (one of Darwin’s finches” and translated this sequence into notes.
What we have, as a consequence, is the sung liturgy of evolution. To use biological language, the phenotype (or appearance) of the liturgy expresses the genotype (structure and history) of evolution. In an act of arresting aesthetic beauty, the song of creation itself is performed in a setting normally reserved for a Eucharist celebration. Perhaps this is most fitting, after all, for should we not celebrate the wonders and glories of creation?
While it is not the artists’ intent to “reconcile or aggravate the difference between evolutionists and creationists,” I cannot help but to think such a rift may be healed through works of rapprochement such as this composition. “Beauty,” Dostoevsky wrote in The Idiot, “will save the world.” In a culture where acrimonious debates over the compatibility of faith and science are common, it may fall to works of beauty such as this to bring together two apparently contradictory voices in a hymn of wounding beauty and meditative awe.
If you’re a lover of classical music, I strongly urge you to purchase this either for pure listening pleasure or for a challenging and moving experience of meditating on the song of creation itself.