Composed and produced by Kevin Keller
Performed by Katherine Wessinger, Danya Katok, Elisa Singer Strom, and Wendy Baker (sopranos), Sarah Zun (violin), Angela Pickett (viola), and Laura Metcalf (cello)
As Kevin Keller's recorded career nears a full three decades (his debut The Mask of Memory appeared in 1994), Evensong takes him into territory that is simultaneously new and ancient. It’s his first album to be based on vocal music, with half of those melodies being penned by Hildegard of Bingen in the 12th century; four of the eight tracks use her plainchant melodies, including her Latin texts. Combined with Keller’s production, the resulting sound is timeless.
Conceptually, Keller takes the Early Christian idea of canonical hours and interprets it as a microcosm of life and its procession from beginning to end—and beyond. We are taken on a journey, starting with conception and birth, moving to the playful innocence of early childhood, followed by growing up, then the uncertainty of adulthood, the confusion and struggle of making one’s way in the world, the peace that comes in old age, the transition of death, and the mystery of what comes after.
At every step of the way, Keller combines classical textures (strings, organ, piano) and modern timbres and rhythms in evocative fashion, often crowned by the beauty of the four female voices in unison. The profound sense of contemplation that has marked Keller’s most deeply felt work is once again present, guiding us gently along the journey to its otherworldly finale, with a plainchant melody written by Keller in homage to Hildegard’s style.