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Tom Huizenga
National Public Radio, December 2013

NPR Classical’s 10 Favorite Albums Of 2013

It’s tempting to label Caleb Burhans as a sensualist, but that would underestimate the 33-year-old composer’s considerable range. While the music on Evensong indulges in rich textures—from rapturously blended choirs to sweet-layered cellos—the straight-ahead spirit of rock, pop and improvised music is never far off. Burhans, a musical polyglot, plays in a variety of new music ensembles and electronic outfits, plus he’s got 20 years behind him as a chorister. He knows how to build drama in pieces like oh ye of little faith—(do you know where your children are?), and pull off century-arching choral pieces like Super Flumina Babylonis and Nunc Dimittis, that could be welcomed in many Episcopal church services. That Evensong is his debut album makes Burhans all the more impressive. © 2013 National Public Radio

Tom Huizenga
National Public Radio, December 2013

NPR Music’s 50 Favorite Albums of 2013

Caleb Burhans is a musical sponge. He’s soaked up Episcopal church music as a long time chorister, he’s played in disco and rock outfits and, as a multi-instrumentalist, he’s a member of a half-dozen new music ensembles. It all contributes to his agility as a composer, startlingly apparent on his strong, beautiful debut album, Evensong. Old vocal forms—from plainchant to polyphony—get filtered through the 33-year-old composer’s eclectic past, emerging fresh with touches of minimalism and mysticism. There’s a trompe l’oeil for the ear with The Things Left Unsaid. It poses as a single cello fed through a loop pedal, but in acoustic reality it’s a gorgeously blended cello octet. Discoveries are around every corner in Evensong, a thoroughly engaging introduction to a formidable young composer. © 2013 National Public Radio

Joshua Rosenblum
Opera News, November 2013

Caleb Burhans is a busy and versatile young composer, singer and multi-instrumentalist. This is his debut disc as featured composer and recording artist.

The opening Magnificat unfurls over an attractive series of cycling triplet arpeggios, with a lyrical unison melody spreading quickly to thirds and sixths. The organ accompaniment, passacaglia structure and reverent choral style all pay homage to sacred vocal tradition…Super Flumina Babylonis (By the Rivers of Babylon)…is mournful and deliberately paced. Ostinato strings under the declaiming chorus are interspersed with fleeting, bell-like upper-register figures. It’s mostly easy listening, with some welcome pungencies…The closing piece, Nunc Dimittis, starts out similarly to the opening Magnificat, with unison chorus and organ; as the accompaniment crescendos, the choral texture evolves, first to octaves and then to overlapping, slowly swooping contrapuntal lines.

Burhans’s multifaceted musicality…is always evident, and he writes fluently for voices and instruments alike. The Trinity Wall Street Choir…performs with seamless and comforting vocal purity. Alarm Will Sound gives worthy, committed performances of several pieces, and the Tarab Cello Ensemble is excellent in “The Things Left Unsaid,” giving acoustic renderings of digital effects such as delay and looping. © 2013 Opera News Read complete review

John Garratt
PopMatters, October 2013

The three ensembles presenting the music here, Alarm Will Sound, Trinity Wall Street Choir and Tarab Cello Ensemble, do an alarmingly good job of making the music blend across the board. Evensong starts off in a derivative manner with “Magnificat”, echoing the sacred choral music of so many composers before Burhans’ time. By the second half of the third track, you’re in another place entirely. “Iceman Stole the Sun” wraps up with many sighing strings pitted against one another, a calming compositional technique that sounds like it could, and should, go on forever. You could say this about the slow crawl that haunts “Oh Ye of Little Faith…(Do You Know Where Your Children Are?)”. © 2013 PopMatters Read complete review

Tom Huizenga
National Public Radio, September 2013

Evensong is an eclectic and beautiful debut from a composer to keep an ear on. © 2013 National Public Radio

Daniel Stephen Johnson
WQXR (New York), July 2013

[Caleb Burhans] plays stylishly, he knows how to give a credible performance with electronic amplification…

On piece after piece, his compositions excel in those details which would seem to be impossible to achieve as the result of labor or study. The instrumental compositions here emphasize melody, color, atmosphere and affect above all else…

The real surprise here is that Burhans is at his best when he turns that craft towards the oldest and stodgiest genres of classical composition. The psalm set by his powerful motet Super Flumina Babylonis (“By the waters of Babylon”) has been the basis of musical cris de coeur for centuries, and the English liturgical tradition is built on the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis, Burhans’s settings of which are the very soul of subtlety and elegance. A busy choral singer himself, he is just as much at home—if not more so—in the cathedral as in the club. © 2013 WQXR (New York) Read complete review

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