The Dale Warland Singers

Harvest Home - Dale Warland SingersI’m not from the Midwest – the “Heartland”. Though almost everyone I know from that region seems solid in a way that often makes the fast-paced metropolitan life seem flakey to me, I’m not entirely trusting of most things steeped in tradition, old-fashioned spirituality or songs of faith.

I receive a weekly email flyer from a classical music outfit called ArkivMusic.com, a place where I can find out-of-the-way classical often not found at mighty Amazon. This week’s flyer featured “Harvest Home“, “songs from the heart” by the Dale Warland Singers. Who?

“If you remember a time when truth, in all areas of life, was a virtue, when personal responsibility was the rule, when everyone, young and old, knew the old hymns and songs of faith and communal fellowship, then you will appreciate the sentiments expressed by many of the pieces on this fine disc, one of the last CDs from the Dale Warland Singers before the group’s “retirement” in May, 2004. Although the program certainly is appropriate as a tribute to the revered place of home and family in the traditional North American celebration of Thanksgiving, it also stands as a well-chosen compilation of some of the more beloved old American hymns–especially Shaker tunes–and spirituals, spiced with a few folk songs such as Emma Lou Diemer’s spiffy arrangement of She’ll be comin’ round the mountain and Carol Barnett’s equally lively version of Cindy. “

I ordered it, and it blew me away. The choral work is technically perfect – I have never heard better synchronized singing. I have not heard some of these songs since we sang them in grammar school over half a century ago. You’d have to really excel to get me excited again about such old chromos as “She’ll be comin’ round the mountain”, but they did it. But, to get to the point, the music is just flawlessly beautiful.

This group does Christmas music too, another category I don’t normally pursue. Given what they can do to surprise and please, using the idiom of the understood and the expected, don’t be too surprised if I order it. Recommended.

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