A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (it was called New Orleans) I took a break from two television and several radio newscasts a day and also broadcast a weekly program called Jazz Review. It did what the name suggests. Once in a while I deep-sixed the review format and put together a special called “It’s All Music.” The show might consist of recordings by artists as diverse as Charlie Parker, Waylon Jennings, Spike Jones, Percy Sledge, Artur Rubenstein, Jo Stafford, the Juilliard String Quartet and Frank Sinatra. Once I played the entire second movement of Mahler’s 6th Symphony. I did the first “It’s All Music” with trepidation. It turned out that the listeners—and the sponsor— liked it and asked for more. There’s no percentage in assuming that people are not open-minded.
All of that came to mind today when I got a notice that my newest follower on Twitter is the composer Daron Hagen (pictured). Anyone familiar with Hagen’s music is aware that he is open-minded. The eclecticism of his work, from chamber music to grand opera, makes that clear. You can find out about him on his website. But this isn’t about Daron, who—full disclosure—is a friend. It’s about a singing group and a piece of their music I found on YouTube when I followed a link in one of Hagen’s tweets. The group is New York Polyphony. The music is a liturgical work by the 16th century English composer William Byrd. Maybe it struck me because I recently finished reading Hilary Mantel’s novel Wolf Hall about the exploits of Henry The Eighth and Ann Boleyn during Byrd’s time. Or maybe it’s because the singing in this short piece is so good and the harmonies are so rich. I thought that you’d enjoy it, too.
It’s all music.