Celebrating the American Spirit, performed by Essential Voices USA (EVUSA) and conducted by Judith Clurman along with guest artists, Broadway stars Kelli O'Hara and Ron Raines and composer-arranger Larry Hochman, represents an American songbook for the 21st century. The centerpiece of this CD is Sing Out Mr. President, a song cycle of sixteen newly commissioned compositions set to quotations by American presidents from Washington to Obama. Originally performed at the Library of Congress and broadcast on National Public Radio, the cycle showcases the American composers Samuel Adler, Milton Babbitt, Robert Beaser, Jason Robert Brown, Thomas Cabaniss, Jake Heggie, Larry Hochman, Michael Gilbertson, Nora Kroll-Rosenbaum, Andrew Lippa, David Ludwig, Paul Moravec, Nico Muhly, Georgia Stitt, Zachary Wadsworth, and Jesse Wiener. The CD also includes individual new and newly arranged works by composers and writers such as Irving Berlin (It Gets Lonely In the White House & God Bless America), Leonard Bernstein (Take Care of This House), Sheldon Harnick (Reason to Be Thankful),Jennifer Higdon (A Quiet Moment), Larry Hochman (Two Paraphrases on American Anthems & American Dream) and Laurie Hochman (The Pledge of Allegiance & American Dream), David Ludwig (The New Colossus), Stephen Paulus (Hymn for America), Marc Shaiman (A Seed of Grain: Theme from The American President), and John Philip Sousa (Stars and Stripes Forever).
Clurman has rerecorded the music on a new album, Celebrating the American Spirit. Along with choral settings of words from Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, FDR and Bill Clinton, the album examines the presidency and patriotism not with boisterous pomp, but from a more quiet and thoughtful viewpoint.
John Philip Sousa's blustery 'The Stars and Stripes Forever' makes an appearance, but not in its natural full-blown band habitat. Instead, it's transformed by Billy Test into gently swinging piano jazz. --National Public Radio, Tom Huizenga, January 2013
Judith Clurman...leads her forces here with great skill, spirit, and assurance; and her soloists are outstanding. The program is very nicely recorded...Choirmasters who are planning patriotic-themed concerts, take heed: there's a lot of material here that will bring your houses down. Whether the music tickles your funnybone or brings a tear to your eye, here's a release that will reinforce your patriotism and make you prouder than ever to be an American. --American Record Guide, Lindsay Koob