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Bob Chambers
Choral Journal, August 2012

The unique and exciting Ehterea Vocal Ensemble, a group of eight professional singer…present an excellent selection of original Christmas compositions and carol arrangements for treble voices. Acclaimed harpist Grace Cloutier accompanies the voices on the majority of the carols, including an adaptation of the piano part of Charles Gounod’s Noel. For this work, she is joined by organist Alan Murchie.

Throughout the recording the style is impeccable and the intonation is flawless.

One is immediately struck by the tone of the group. The opening of the Britten, which begins with a soloist “to create the impression of processing while maintaining presence and clarity of sound,” displays a shimmering unison when the countertenor tales the lower octave for a moment. The sound is very much like a boy choir without any of the shrillness or blatancy one often encounters from boy choir in the upper register. According to the liner notes each of the singers is an experienced soloist in many musical styles. That experience explains why no boy choir could equal this tone. The one exception to the boy choir sound is the Gounod Noel in which the ensemble sounds like an entirely different group, using appropriate vibrato which almost never intrudes in any of the other pieces. Here the voice of soprano soloist Awet Andemicael sounds very much like a fine romantic opera singer; a tone that is heard nowhere else on this recording. Other soprano soloists are Lucy Fitz Gibbon (Balulalowi and A Virgin Most Pure), Arianne Abela (In Freezing winter Night), Amanda Sidebottom (A Virgin Most Pure and There Is No Rose) and Allison Holst-Grubbe (Good King Wenceslas). Contralto Heather Petrie joins Abela on In Freezing Winter Night and teams very effectively with Andemicael in Noel. Greten-Harrison sings a beautiful countertenor in The Younge Child, a Virgin Most Pure, and in There Is No Rose. He sings excellently as a baritone in Good King Wenceslas. In addition to wonderful singing on this recording, one marvels at the breadth of expression and remarkable tone that Cloutier calls from the harp.

Lindsay Koob contributed the attractive and extensive liner notes, which are well written and very informative. The excellence of the recording may best be represented by the fact that the clarity of the harp tone is almost better than if one were present in the room. Recorded in Marquand Chapel, Yale Divinity School, the fidelity in impeccable. Even for those who are not treble choir fans, this recording deserves a hearing. © 2012 Choral Journal

Lisa Flynn
WFMT (Chicago), December 2011

Best Christmas Recording of 2011

The singers of the Etherea Ensemble and their director Derek Greten-Harrison specialize in the performance of choral works for treble voices. Accompanied by harpist Grace Cloutier, they present an ethereal reading of Britten’s beloved Christmas cycle, “A Ceremony of Carols,” as well as other favorites of the season. © 2011 WFMT (Chicago) See complete list

Cornelia Iredell
Opera News, December 2011

Those who delight in the ethereal melodies and intricate vocal lines of Benjamin Britten’s carol cycle should savor this new disc. The eight women of the Etherea Ensemble, and their director, Derek Greten-Harrison…[a]ccompanied here by the proficient harpist Grace Cloutier…present an elegant, nuanced reading of Britten’s score, as well as other favorites of the Christmas season. © Opera News Read complete review

Sarah Bryan Miller
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 2011

The Etherea Vocal Ensemble lives up to its name, with some lovely singing. “Ceremony of Carols” (Delos DE 3422) begins with a fine rendition of the Benjamin Britten classic and concludes with John Rutter’s “Dancing Day,” with Charles Gounod’s “Noel” and other works, mostly for voice and harp, in between. © St Louis Post-Dispatch

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