In the wake of a much-loved Canadian icon’s recent passing, it seems uncannily prophetic to have chosen settings of Leonard Cohen’s poetry for the centrepiece of this recording. Wandering Heart, by Latvian composer Ēriks Ešenvalds, begins with Twelve O’Clock Chant, a selection from The Spice-Box of Earth, the 1961 publication which established Cohen’s reputation as a lyric poet. This is followed by I Lost My Way from the poet’s Book of Mercy, and the third, The Road Is Too Long, is from Cohen’s Book of Longing.
Wandering Heart is also the first composition to be commissioned from the fund named in honour of Chor Leoni’s founding director, the late Diane Loomer. The choir does honour to the memories of these artists, with the melodic clarity and honesty of expression this group of men are known for. In addition to Wandering Heart and two other pieces by Ešenvalds, the album also features music by Mendelssohn, Paul Mealor, Robert Moran, Kim André Arnesen and Morten Lauridsen. Artistic director Erick Lichte describes a common theme, with the selections representative of distances physical, spiritual and emotional, especially focusing on those “separated by the vast distance of death and how love can bridge this expanse.” Very timely indeed.