Zealot Canticles – winner of the
2019 Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance.
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We are grateful for Lansing, the composition, its delivery, the care and detail in recording and releasing, the album art, the support system that makes all that possible, and the entire family of The Crossing - you, reading this, being a part of the seed, the roots, the tree, and the leaves that are The Crossing.
A special thanks goes to the Anonymous donor who makes our recordings possible, and to the Barlow Endowment for Musical Composition at Brigham Young University, as well as Miami University, for supporting the completion of Zealot Canticles and our recording.
May the message be heard.
We must learn to identify the camouflage of power. Secular or theocratic, that camouflage must be ripped wide open so that the real contender - the latest, smirking, unctuous face of Power in whatever guise, is exposed, and neutralized.
Only then shall we have truly fulfilled our existence and deserved our Freedom, only then would we have concluded our final assignation with - History.
— Wole Soyinka, from Zealot Canticles
The Crossing & Donald Nally
Lansing McLoskey’s Zealot Canticles is based on Wole Soyinka’s Twelve Canticles for the Zealot (2002) – a strangely beautiful and terrifying look into the minds of fanatics. Seven of these poems form the bulk of the libretto, interwoven with excerpts from Soyinka’s plays, interviews, lectures, and speeches; they reflect his upbringing in an environment of tolerance and condemn the current climate of intolerance, bigotry, and violence. The result is a concert-length choral ‘oratorio’ for clarinet, string quartet, and 24-voice choir, commissioned and performed by The Crossing, conducted by Donald Nally and winner of the 2019 Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance.
Soyinka’s texts and McLoskey’s responses are universal pleas for peace and tolerance, yet they force us to look into the mirror and recognize the thin line between devotion and intolerance, zealotry and radicalism – themes that dominate our public discourse every day.
Wole Soyinka (b. 1934) is a Nigerian poet, playwright, novelist, and recipient of the 1986 Nobel Prize for Literature, the first African recipient of the award. Throughout the set of canticles, Soyinka makes universal pleas for peace from multiple languages and religious cultures. Seven of these poems form the core of the libretto of Zealot Canticles. Interwoven with these poems are excerpts from Soyinka’s book The Man Died, his play Madmen and Specialists, and interviews, lectures, and speeches reflecting on his upbringing in an environment of tolerance, and condemning the current climate of intolerance, bigotry, and violence.
Of the work, McLoskey says, “From the opening poem I couldn’t help but reflect upon the parallels between the delirium of the religious fanatic and the delirium of Soyinka himself during hunger fasts. Self-deprivation and hallucinations are not the sole prerogatives of the unjustly imprisoned, after all, but also common among zealots of another sort. Soyinka’s own renunciations of self, ‘I need nothing...I feel nothing… I desire nothing,’ are renunciations and exhortations echoed in ultra-devotees from Buddhist monks and Hindu ascetics to Christian hermits and the Taliban. Is there then not a thin line between extreme devotion – zealotry – and radicalism? And that line is both personal and public. The words of Wole Soyinka are not just generalizations or universal in nature, but specifically about us. Right here, right now.”
Katy Avery, Julie Bishop, Elijah Blaisdell,
Karen Blanchard, Steven Bradshaw, Colin Dill,
Micah Dingler, Robert Eisentrout, Allie Faulkner,
Ryan Fleming, Joanna Gates, Steven Hyder,
Michael Jones, Heather Kayan, Heidi Kurtz,
Maren Montalbano, Daniel O’Dea, Becky Oehlers,
Allie Porter, Daniel Schwartz, Rebecca Siler,
Daniel Spratlan, Elisa Sutherland, Daniel Taylor
Donald Nally, conductor
John Grecia, keyboards
Doris Hall-Gulati, clarinet
Rebecca Harris, violin
Mandy Wolman, violin
Lorenzo Raval, viola
Arlen Hlusko, cello