This unabashedly eclectic album features stirring and varied songs by American composer Ben Moore, written over a period of some 30 years and ranging from modern art song to musical theater and cabaret. The texts span some 2,600 years from the ancient poet Sappho to contemporary lyrics. Conceived early in the COVID-19 pandemic, Gathering is united by its message of hope in troubled times and hope for a brighter future.
Alongside one of today’s leading collaborative pianists, Brian Zeger, the album features an extraordinary group of singers capable of performing in a wide range of musical styles: Isabel Leonard, Liz Callaway, Matthew Polenzani, Janai Brugger, Michael Kelly, Alexander Gemignani and Joseph Lattanzi.
Arranged in five sections, Gathering begins with poetry from the Romantic era — including famous lines from Shelley and Keats — and next takes the listener to 20th-century texts, including poems by Yeats and Hardy. The following section, “Toward Acceptance,” includes stirring lines adapted by Moore from a letter and video by a young gay man lamenting the suicide of his uncle. (“I would have held you in my arms if I could / You and I – we had everything in common.”) The fourth section offers theater and cabaret songs, including songs from Moore’s musical Henry and Company. The last section, “Songs of Hope,” features three songs with lilting melodies set to Moore’s own poems, concluding with “On Music.”
Gathering is Delos’ second album of Moore’s music. The first, Dear Theo (DE 3437), with text from Vincent van Gogh’s letters to his brother, features Paul Appleby, Susanna Phillips, Brett Polegato and Brian Zeger. It was hailed as displaying Moore’s “aptitude for psychologically probing yet undeniably appealing storytelling” (Opera News) and “well-thought-out tonality. . . conviction and beautiful sense of line.” (Classical-Modern Music Review)