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Chamber Choir releases new CD, "The Doors of Heaven"
Author: Suzanne Gray
Posted: August 14, 2017

(Portland, Ore.) August 11, 2017 —The Portland State Chamber Choir has released “The Doors of Heaven,” the first American recording of works by composer Ēriks Ešenvalds. The album was released today on Naxos, the world’s largest classical music label.

Ešenvalds is a three-time Latvian Grand Music Award winner, whose “rich, sonorous choral writing is in almost permanent ecstasy” (Guardian). “The Doors of Heaven” features Ešenvalds’ distinctive synthesis of musical styles, blending elements of lush choral texture with a 20th-century angular tonality.

This recording originated with the Portland State Chamber Choir’s 2015 performance of “Passion and Resurrection” at a national choral conference. Naxos took note and contacted Ešenvalds about an entire record of his music. The Chamber Choir was enthusiastically endorsed for this project by both the composer and the label.

In July the Chamber Choir won the Grand Prix at the Bali International Choral Festival, the largest choral gathering in Asia. The group was hailed by The Oregonian for providing “the finest choral concerts in Portland in recent memory,” and their 2014 recording “Into Unknown Worlds” was named a “Record To Die For” by Stereophile magazine. The Chamber Choir is the top choral ensemble at Portland State.

Known for creating his own librettos, Ešenvalds brings four of his longer narrative works to “The Doors of Heaven”: one (“Rivers of Light”) about the beauty of nature, two (“A Drop in the Ocean” and “Passion and Resurrection”) about religious faith, and one (“The First Tears”) a Native American legend that combines both faith and nature. The album’s longest work, “Passion and Resurrection,” is Ešenvalds’ first oratorio.

Conductor Ethan Sperry says, “Ešenvalds’ ability to write this music is a rare gift, one that allows us to view centuries-old human stories from a new perspective: in his music, indeed, the doors of Heaven are opened in all their beauty and complexity.”

“The Doors of Heaven” is produced by Erick Lichte and engineered by John Atkinson & Doug Toutelot. Recording took place in January and May 2016 at St. Stephen’s Catholic Church in Southeast Portland.

The album is available for purchase on Amazon and iTunes, as well as at the choir’s concerts. Their next performance is November 10 & 12 at First United Methodist Church.