By PAUL A. BARRA
CHARLESTON — Buoyed by a succession of successful concerts and driven by requests for professional recordings of its music, vox aeterna will cut a professional compact disc on Aug. 21 and 22. The choral group has reserved the chapel at Mepkin Abbey for the recording session.
In addition to responding to a demand from music fans, the CD will be both a memorial to honor the memory of deceased friends and relatives of benefactors and a promotional tool for the group. Since vox aeterna is a non-profit corporation, the money to pay for the recording will come from bequests made by some of those benefactors. The ensemble is seeking donations to finance the recording. For a gift of $250 the name of the person or persons being remembered will be inscribed in a memorial roll on the inside of the CD album.
Kathy S. Stinson, vice-president and business manager of vox — as well as one of the two dozen voices that make up the famed choir — will make her donation to honor her mother who passed away earlier this year.
“It’s my way of saying, ‘Mom, I love you, I’m thinking about you, and I just wanted you to know what I’m doing,'” Stinson said. “We’d like to make a tribute to people like my mother.”
The repertoire of vox aeterna suits the concept of a memorial recording perfectly. Their May 17 concert at the ancient First Scots Presbyterian Church on peninsular Charleston featured a Civil War poem by Walt Whitman set to music by composer Geoffrey Van, “A Procession Winding Around Me.” The entire concert was subtitled “In Remembrance.” Classical guitarist Clelia Readon joined the vocal group for that one, while members of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra accompanied “the eternal voices” in March at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. That spring concert also featured Maurice Durufle’s “Requiem.”
“The theme of the recording will be ‘Consolation and Resurrection,'” said Scott Atwood, artistic director of vox aeterna.
Vox aeterna sings music that most of us don’t ordinarily hear but it has developed a large and diverse audience nevertheless, caught up in what one review described as “twentieth-century stuff, high quality and not common, often sacred, always hauntingly evocative.” Atwood said that the group hopes to provide a spiritual and artistic experience every time it performs.
Darlene H. Moak, a psychiatrist on the faculty of the Medical University of South Carolina and a mezzo soprano in the choir of St. Stephen Episcopal Church, also sings alto with vox aeterna and sits on its board of directors. She said that she was impressed with the public response to the two-year-old choir’s performances, but not surprised.
“We sing music that is new to Charleston audiences and we try to sing it well. Vox aeterna is a gift,” Moak said.
Reviews of their public performances have been stunningly positive; concert-goers want to remember the critically acclaimed music at home and in their cars.
“A lot of people have asked for a recording,” Stinson said. “We’ll probably record much of what we’ve done so far and will pick out the best for the CD.”
Depending upon the reply to the memorial recording fundraising, vox aeterna will hire some or many of their concert accompanists to join the voices for their marathon session at Mepkin. Organist Tim Tikker is part of the group and will play the abbey’s modern pipe instrument. He and the singers hope to have the recording available for Christmas.
To participate in the memorial fund-raiser for vox aeterna, write them at P.O. Box 31268, Charleston, SC 29422. The group’s phone number is (843) 556-5826.