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Lisa Flynn
WFMT (Chicago), September 2020

The prolific young composer Jake Runestad has won numerous awards for his music, ranging from opera to works for chamber ensemble. He is particularly valued for his choral compositions, which exemplify a desire to write expertly crafted, socially conscious, and emotionally potent music. On this album, Runestad explores a profound life journey in The Secret of the Sea and projects a powerful expression of grief in Let My Love Be Heard. Nature is a recurring theme for the composer and he employs texts that exalt the natural world, as well as finding seldom heard sound combinations in the exhilarating Ner Ner. © 2020 WFMT (Chicago)

Textura, September 2020

The ten pieces (half of them world premiere recordings) show the Denver-based choral ensemble Kantorei to be a superb interpreter of his material. Artistic director Joel M. Rinsema directs the group, whose fifty-two members—all volunteers—include choral music educators, vocal teachers, church choir conductors, doctors, social workers, accountants, and so on.

Contributions from soprano Juli Orlandini and percussionist Rachel Hargroder (bass drum and djembe) add considerably to the music’s impact, which conveys both the tumult associated with the girl’s Somalia experience and hope for the future (conveyed in the choir’s ecstatic voicing “If we come together, we can meld a crack in the sky”). © 2020 Textura Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, August 2020

To quote the enclosed booklet, Jake Runestad is “one of the youngest full-time composers in the world”, having been born in the United States in 1986.

The ten vocal works on the disc were all written in the past fifteen years, and stylistically have their roots in the mid-twentieth century when Vaughan Williams and Aaron Copland were writing listener-friendly vocal works, here tinged, now and then, by more modern influences. They are sculptured in a familiar tonality, with harmonic structures that will be most agreeable to performers and pleasing to a large cross-section of listeners. The source of texts is very international and date from biblical times, with I will lift up mine eyes, to the present day’s We Can Mend the Sky by the fourteen-year-old Somali-born refugee, Warda Mohamed. Maybe it is my response to Runestad’s music, but I cannot but feel that his music takes on a different level of inspiration when offered poems by Walt Whitman in Proud Music of the Storm. The performances come from the Denver-based community choral group, Kantorei, who are an ideally balanced ensemble. Onto my hobby-horse, and I am pleased that the sopranos are devoid of that screaming quality that has become all too fashionable. They are presently directed by Joel Rinsema, who record collectors will recall as the long-serving director of the multi-award winning Phoenix Chorale. Most tracks are unaccompanied, a small instrumental group adding additional colours to the most extended work, The Secret of the Sea. The acoustic of the Saint John’s Cathedral in Denver is skilfully used to add a warmth to the sound, and, when required, to bring impact. In total a much recommended release. © 2020 David’s Review Corner

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