"A couple of gems round out the recording. Edie Hill's This Floating World are musical illustrations of five haiku by the great Japanese poet Basho (translations by Robert Hass are included in the notes). On the strength of Chatterton's performance - a sketch-pad that includes a sky-lark, the harvest moon, winter solitude, a petal shower, and the Milky Way - the piece instantly takes its place among the staples of the solo flute repertoire."
“...When Edie Hill's 'A Sound Like This' began, with its urgent exhortation to “Listen!,” I just about jumped out of my skin...You'd think that triggering my fight or flight response might have been an unpleasant experience, but I just sat there grinning...Then Cantus began singing harmonies that chased around the soundstage before blooming into a major chord – all interspersed with more whispered exclamations...and my grin stretched to rival Heath Ledger's.”
"A True Heart is Waiting is flat-out beautiful—deep and tuneful and full of mystery that resists your knowing it too well."
From Stereophile Magazine:
As artistic director Erick Lichte recalls it, "We realized that we had the bare bones of a great thematic collection, especially since we were getting spectacular response from Tormis' Muistse mere laulud [Songs of the Ancient Sea], so we thought we could make a really good recording of sea songs—especially when we were able to commission 'A True Heart Is Waiting' from Minnesotan composer Edie Hill, which gave us the point of view of the lover left waiting at home for the wanderer to return. That's when we knew we had a whole concept and not just an idea."
Cantus' Erick Lichte comments on commissioning 'A True Heart Is Waiting'
About two years ago I walked into the Cantus office and was met by Cantus' smiling Executive Director, Michael Hanawalt. He informed me that we got a gig singing at Miami University of Ohio. This was not wholly surprising since Cantus had sung there three times before. What was new was that one of Cantus' most generous benefactors, who lives in Oxford, Ohio, agreed to provide money to commission a work for Cantus and the Miami University Glee Club. I started smiling too, knowing exactly who we should ask to write the piece: Edie Hill.
I called Edie and she graciously made room in her busy schedule to write the piece. Cantus knew it was doing a concert program and recording about the sea so finding a text that fit into that theme seemed like a good idea to both of us. Of course, neither of us had a specific text in mind, so the search was on.
In my experience, it is the rarest of composers who knows where and how to look for great texts and Edie one of those composers. As we went back and forth finding poems, Edie showed an innate sense of what texts would serve her own compositional style and would fit with who Cantus is and how we sing. Each text she showed me was better than the last and finally we arrived on a poem by L.M. Montgomery called On the Bay. Edie was, I think, literally in love with the poem and that's always a good sign. We both felt that it worked beautifully with the program Cantus was creating and contained passages that would allow Edie's voice to come through. Neither of us liked the title of the poem, so Edie changed it to the more emotional A True Heart is Waiting.
Now that we had a text, we talked at great length about creating moments of "bloom" in the piece—places where voices could really open up while at the same time creating harmonic indulgences that the listener would love. The focus, in our discussions, was to create the sort of piece the singer loved to sing and the audience loved to hear.
In December of 2004, I received the first draft of the score and I was overwhelmed (in a good way). It was full of things that showed what an experienced and talented composer we were working with. For instance, the piece begins and ends with a haunting melody that the choir hums. I asked Edie about her choice of humming and she said she chose it because she'd heard Cantus performing Harry T. Burleigh's "Deep River," an arrangement that also begins and ends with humming, and thought it was a sound that Cantus made particularly well. She was right, and it was one of many choices she made in composing this piece that tailor-made the work to male choirs everywhere and especially Cantus.
A True Heart is Waiting is special for a number of reasons, all of which speak, I believe, to Edie's core aesthetic as a composer. First and foremost, it is an emotional work—a piece from and to the heart. There are no throwaway moments, nor is the piece too dense with ideas that the listener gets lost in the shuffle. Secondly, though it is a challenging work, it is tailor made for the human voice and is infinitely singable. Text and music are both held in equal esteem, allowing the listener to easily take in both simultaneously.
Edie and Cantus went back and forth over a few little things in the score and came up with a final draft. Even then, we had Edie into rehearsals and made lots of small changes to the score that felt right as we performed the piece. Edie proved herself to be a wonderful collaborator throughout the project.
The premiere of the work occurred in the Spring of 2005 at joint concert between Cantus and the Miami Glee Club with Ethan Sperry conducting. While Cantus felt like we had a tailor-made work, Edie was simultaneously crafting True Heart to work with the 120 singers of the Glee Club—this is no small feat. True Heart worked both as a mass choir piece and chamber ensemble work.
In June of 2005 Cantus recorded the piece and it will be released commercially in the Fall of 2006. Working with Edie has been one of the highlights of my career. I believe in her music and am proud to champion it on the stage and on disc.
Currently, Cantus and Edie are working on an extended piece based on the Robert Bly translations of the poet Kabir. The piece, A Sound Like This will be premiered in Minneapolis in March of 2007. All signs point to this project being another artistic pinnacle for both Cantus and Edie.
"Hill's masterful facility for setting words and exploiting the emotional richness of texts keeps her in demand."
"Few are creating more varied or distinctive works than Hill."
"Ms. Hill's composition was astoundingly beautiful... an impressionistic masterpiece."
"... delicate and sprightly with a foundation of dignified solemnity... [A Birthday] drew the loudest and most enthusiastic ovation of the event..."
"Edie Hill's work reveals both exciting creativity and strong craftsmanship. She has an obvious kinship with the choral medium and a sensitivity to the potential of the human voice."
"The overall effect of [Hill's] music is an evocation of magic."
"... wonderful leaps, tempo contrasts, and sense of drama pervade [Hill's] work."
"One of the Twin Cities' best-known young creators."
"...an exquisite bit of musical impressionism that conjured visions of snowdrifts and moonlight and tinkling icicles and howling wind across the Minnesota tundra."
"Her three-movement piece of airborne tone painting shows how much can be done with a single line..."
"... a joy to [perform]... with maximum capacity for expression. Delicate, but strong. A surprisingly athletic task."
"Edie Hill, one of the Twin Cities' best known creators, has been named [the Rose Ensemble's] composer-in-residence, and the first of two works intended for the ensemble was given its world premiere... Her 'Alma Beata et Bella,' a delicate setting of words by a 15th Century Italian poet, grew softly in slow and patient scales, and at its end, bloomed harmonically into a gentle kind of ecstasy, one that many saints have surely known."
“Hill's [This Floating World] delicately captured wondrous scenes from nature...with serenity...clarity...intensity. Turbulent...outside the box.”
"Both [Claudio Monteverdi and Edie Hill] place the text at the forefront of their musical expression...Edie Hill skillfully selects rhythms for singers to use. Her rhythmic choices are always based on the natural spoken rhythm of the words. Both composers create masterpieces by uniting music which represents the text, as well as giving the poetry the rhythmic integrity and clarity to be expressively sung."