In Celebration of the Human Voice - The Essential Musical Instrument
Leo Nestor (B.A., Music-Composition, California State University, East Bay; M.M., D.M.A., Choral Music, University of Southern California), Justine Bayard Ward Professor of Music; Director of Choral Activities, Director, Institute of Sacred Music; member of the conducting faculty, co-operating member of the composition faculty, The Catholic University of America Benjamin T. Rome School of Music, Washington, District of Columbia, USA.
Dr. Nestor conducts the CUA Chamber Choir and University Chorus, teaches undergraduate conducting and guides the formation of graduate students in choral music and musica sacra.
Leo Nestor's works are published principally by ECS Publishing, a division of the E. C. Schirmer Music Company, Boston; other works appear in the catalogues of Oxford University Press, MorningStar Music, Oregon Catholic Press and Selah Publishing House.
Dr. Nestor is founder, conductor, and artistic director of the American Repertory Singers, a professional vocal ensemble specializing in the performance and recording of contemporary literatures with eight recordings on Arsis Audio, most recently Come to Me: Love Songs by American Composers. He is among the four founding members (1984) and serves as advisor (1996) to the Conference of Roman Catholic Cathedral Musicians.
In 2001, Dr. Nestor was appointed musical advisor to the Secretariat for Liturgy of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Dr. Nestor has taught at Mt. St. Mary's College, Los Angeles; the University of Wisconsin, Madison; he has served as professor of conducting at St. John's University, Collegeville MN. He has served as artistic advisor, member of the international jury and Comitato d'Onore, conductor of the Coro Internazionale of L'Associazione Internazionale Amici della Musica Sacra in Rome from 1991-1998. Dr. Nestor was music director at Washington's Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception from January of 1984 through July of 2001.
Performances of Professor Nestor's works are frequent throughout the United States; he has been fortunate to have works performed in London as well as Rome; commissions increasingly form a significant part of his output. Larger works have been composed for The Catholic University of America (In the Fullness of Time for chorus, soli and orchestra) and for the papal visits to Los Angeles (People of God in the City of Our God) and St. Louis (Magnificat). Among recent premi¸res and recordings: Kennedy Center-commission for The Washington Chorus, Variations on "Of the Father's Love Begotten" for divisi chorus, large brass ensemble, percussion and organ; American Songs and Ballads for chorus, violin, violoncello and guitar for the Capitol Hill Chorale; Four Part Songs from the Highlands for divisi chorus and flute for the composer's alma mater, California State University, East Bay; An American Triptych for divisi chorus and organ for National City Christian Church; Psalmody for the Great Vigil of Easter for solo voices and string orchestra at St. Peter's Church on Capitol Hill; in July 2006; Four Anthems on Gregorian Themes for Randall Swanson and St. Clement's Choir received its premi¸re performance at the Chicago 2006 AGO National Convention. Most recently, Abide in Me (2007) for the installation of the Most Rev. John Charles Wester, Bishop Salt Lake City; Strengthen for Service (2007) for the installation of Rev. William Byrne, St. Peter's Church on Capitol Hill, the composer's parish. Rise Heart Thy Lord Is Risen (2007) for University Christian Church, Fort Worth. Rhapsody, Narrative and Prayer (2007) for the one-hundred-fiftieth anniversary of the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Montclair, New Jersey.
During his December 2007-August 2008 sabbatical, Nestor's principal compositional project was and continues to be the completion of I Will Sing and Make Melody, a liturgical Psalter for the three-year Sunday cycle and major feasts. In April Prof. Nestor was invited to address the graduate students in sacred music at the University of Notre Dame. He served as composer-in-residence at the Cathedral of the Madeleine, Salt Lake City, working daily with music director Gregory Glenn, the Cathedral Choir, Cathedral Choristers and Coro Hispano, composing and conducting works for each ensemble, often performing with members of the Utah Symphony.
Lord, You Give the Great Commission for chorus, double brass quintet, organ and percussion was commissioned by the Archdiocese of Washington for the April 2008 Apostolic Visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Washington DC; Regina caeli, laetare for chorus, organ and trumpet for the Most Reverend Michael J. Bransfield, Bishop of Wheeling-Charleston; I Sing of a Maiden (2008) for The Catholic University of America Chorus and Symphony Orchestra's 2008 Christmas concert; and a work for chorus and organ to receive its premi¸re performance at the 2010 American Guild of Organists National Convention.
Nestor will conduct the University Chorus and Symphony Orchestra in the President's Festival of the Arts in a performance on Mendelssohn's Elijah in March 2009.Residing on Washington's Capitol Hill, Dr. Nestor maintains an active life as teacher, conductor and composer.
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Review: The American Repertory Singers has got to be one of our very finest domestic choirs specializing in modern American music. The program's title piece is from James Hopkins whose smooth, dreamlike setting of "Come to Me in the Silence of Night" has enjoyed considerable success. Other discoveries include David Conte's feverish "Charm Me Asleep", a splendid setting of Elizabethan poet Robert Herrick's restless verse. Also new to me is Jane Marshall, who contributes a delightful pair of bookend madrigals. The contrast between the initial song's blithe and bouncy air and the warmly reminiscent comfort of its companion piece is very touching. Daniel Pinkham's "Love Can Be Still" is a cycle of four poems by Norma Farber, full of startling turns of musical pphrase, infusing Pinkham's unmistakable American idiom with some complex, late-Monteverdi tricks. Perhaps the best are from Nestor himself: the four sentiment-drenched setting of Four Part-songs from the "Highlands", including two traditional texts and two from Robert Burns. Three include lovely obbligatos for solo flute. "Ca' the Yowes" and "Will ye Go, Lassie, Go?" are especially haunting.
Review: A most sensitive and attractive recording. The American Repertory Singers achieve choral artistry with consistently lovely tonal quality and astounding rhythmic control and flexibility. Sara Stern and Dotian Levalier participate with highly pleasing effect and artistry. The first track of the CD is a setting of the Welsh tune 'Ar hyd y nos'. The combining of the two instrumentalists with the choir provided a captivating and alluring textual attractiveness. The Seven Words of Christ from the Cross makes most effective use of dissonance. Schuneman's reading is wondrously apt and his selection of the soloist (David F. Eberhardt) to sing the part of the Evangelist is very admirable.
Review: An extraordinary set of carol arrangements. As in the case with virtually all of Daron Hagen's music, he takes the listener on an unusual journey, frequently only alluding to tunes or portions of tunes already more than familiar to the listener. As one would expect of a composer who has devoted so much of his life to vocal music and the relationship between music and text, surprising things occur.
Review: One of the professional services offered by Boston-based, mixed voice American Repertory Singers is the recording of scores to accompany the distribution of publishers new issues. All the music on this disc was written in the last two decades of the 20th century, and it is a representative sampling of some of the best contemporary sacred music by America's choral composers who have written for all denominations of Christian churches. 21 cuts, some are accompanied. "Sounding Joy," an dramatic 8-minute arrangement of the spiritual "Steal Away to Jesus" with trumpets, a couple of nice pieces by Richard DeLong, "O Lord, Increase Our Faith" and "There is a Country," and three compositions by Leo Nestor, "And Peace at the Last," "To Rise Beyond the Stars" and "Who Is She Ascends So High?" Five "Little Prayers" by Daron Aric Hagen, 3 by Frank Ferko, "I Was Glad When They Said Unto Me," "I Will Give Thanks to You, O Lord" and "O Gracious Light," 2 by Jane Marshall, "Of Hospitality" and "Song of Simeon," and Daniel Pinkham's "A Sermon on Wisdom"-this is all beautifully performed, hard-to-find contemporary sacred music by one of the best Contemporary Christian ensembles.
Review: Since Randall Thompson (1899-1984), perhaps America's most famous composer of choral music, it is significant that at last a retrospective selection of this music has been recorded. "Ye Shall Have A Song" is a collection of works dating from 1922 to 1970, when the bulk of his choruses had already been written. Starting with his early masterpiece, the 8 movements of "The Peaceable Kingdom," ("Say Ye to the Righteous," "Woe Unto Them," "'The Noise of a Multitude," "Howl Ye," "The Paper Reeds by the Brooks," "But These Are They," "Have Ye Not Known" and the title tune), the CD progresses to "Bittersweet" of 1970, representing his last style. "The Best of Rooms," "Alleluia," and four "Odes of Horace" are followed by the oldest composition, 1922's "The Last Invocation." The Singers make these difficult-to-perform, eclectic and sublimely beautiful pieces sound effortless. A worthy retrospective of the works of an American master!
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