Theresa Thomason with
Paul Halley & Keramion,
Sound Over All Waters
(Pelagos, 1998)

Renowned organist and choirmaster Paul Halley teams up with singer Theresa Thomason to produce Sound Over All Waters, a stunning CD of sacred and gospel music. The CD also features the choir Kerámion.

Halley performs on various keyboards and composed much of the music on the CD, setting poetry and other selections to majestic, graceful melodies and arrangements. From the first exuberant track, "The Rain is Over and Gone" based on verses from the Song of Solomon, to the starkly simple arrangement of the final song, "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing," Halley and Thomason present a seamless unity of passion and praise, blending the old and the new in a CD replete with respect for the content.

Thomason's vibrant and powerful voice rings with sincere devotion. She is a versatile performer, interpreting everything from Bible verses to gospel to the poetry of Wendell Berry and John Greenleaf Whittier with just the right degree of exquisite expression.

"Hold to God's Unchanging Hand" is a lively gospel style song with a jazzy undertone while "Sound Over All Waters" has a traditional feel. "Circles," a poem by Wendell Berry, is moodier, more contemporary, yet it is not out of place, remaining true to the overall spirit of the CD. "Come Away to the Skies" has a swinging rolling melody with great rhythmic appeal. The mood shifts and changes with each song, but there is overall cohesiveness to the arrangements.

Kerámion's performance meshes beautifully with Thomason' s singing; they have a clean, clear sound that supports and complements the solo voice flawlessly. They also get a chance to shine on their own with two familiar spirituals: "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen" and "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot."

The penultimate track, "Freedom Trilogy," combines the talents of Thomason, Kerámion, the Choir of Sacred Sounds and members of Chorus Angelicus, the children's choir Halley founded. The track begins with the 16th century "Kyrie," sung in crystal clear harmony, which leads into to rousing South African hymns "Haleluya! Pelo Tsa Rona" and "Siyahambu." The hymns break off to a lively percussion bridge, after which Thomason launches into a silk smooth up-tempo rendition of "Amazing Grace." The choruses and Thomason combine to bring the selection to a dramatic conclusion, and one might expect that to be the finale of the album. But the final track of solo voice and organ reminds us that no matter how we share our worship, faith is something that comes from each of us alone.

This CD is an enriching experience regardless of your belief system; there is a universality in the musical expression that transcends denomination. Thomason's sincerity and enthusiasm shines though on each track.

For a satisfying spiritual experience, let Theresa Thomason, Paul Halley and Kerámion Sound Over All Waters and into your heart and soul.

[ by Donna Scanlon ]
Rambles: 29 September 2001



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