I first encountered Eric Whitacre’s music when preparing a concert program of music by living American composers for Brigham Young University Singers’ appearance at the 1996 International Choral Symposium in Sydney, Australia. A friend told me of a “most astonishing piece” written by a fellow student while at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, entitled “Cloudburst,” which she thought worthy of performance for “the most discriminating of audiences anywhere.” I contacted the composer who was by then at the Juilliard School. Thus began a very fruitful relationship between Eric Whitacre and the BYU choirs.
With Eric Whitacre’s close collaboration in 2001, BYU Singers recorded the album Eric Whitacre: The Complete A Cappella Works, 1991-2001, which was digitally remastered and rereleased in 2014 as Eric Whitacre Choral Works, Volume 1: A Cappella Works 1991–2001. This album, Eric Whitacre Choral Works, Volume 2, which was originally released in 2008 and titled Brigham Young University Choirs and Eric Whitacre 2, is being rereleased as a followup album of Whitacre’s music. While Volume 1 has been one of the best selling choral CDs all over the world since its original release in 2002, Volume 2 offers performances not only of Whitacre’s pieces for accompanied choir, but also of his a cappella works written since 2001.
The varied performing forces of the pieces in this second album have given us the chance to include with BYU Singers other BYU choirs: BYU Concert Choir, conducted by Rosalind Hall, and BYU Women’s Chorus, conducted at the time of the recording by David Thomas.
All of the strikingly beautiful music on this album confirms that Eric Whitacre is not simply the compositeur du jour. For though his music is being performed and heralded all over the world, he has proven himself an enduring and driving force in today’s choral art, as well as a promising voice for strong direction and vital development for the art for years to come.