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36-year-old Santa Fe Desert Chorale to release first album

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — After 36 years of music, the Santa Fe Desert Chorale is finally putting song to CD.

The 25-member choral group is releasing “The Road Home,” its debut commercial recording, on the Avie label this month. Helmed by six-time Grammy Award-winning producer Elizabeth Ostrow, the album ranges from the Shaker music of the 1800s to works by leading 21st century choral composers. The singers will celebrate with a release concert at Santa Fe’s Cristo Rey Church on Tuesday, Feb. 13.

“It’s really a monumental achievement,” Desert Chorale executive director Janice Mayer said. “It was largely based on a program we did in 2016 called ‘American Voices.’ ”

Recorded at Dallas’ Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, the music features compositions by Sydney Guillaume, Shawn Kirchner, Morten Lauridsen and Stephen Paulus.

A National Endowment for the Arts and Guggenheim Fellowship winner, Paulus penned the CD’s title song, “The Road Home.”

“He was a very prolific and popular composer,” Mayer said. “It’s lyrical and it’s accessible, but it’s also very beautiful.”

New Mexico audiences know the music of Mason Bates, who premiered “The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs” at the Santa Fe Opera last summer. The recording includes his “Stelle.” The program also features excerpts from Morten J. Lauridsen’s “Mid-Winter Songs.”

“These are more challenging works, and they’re more spare and very delicate and require excellent musicianship,” Mayer said.

“Our singers come from all over the country; from Boston to Oregon to Miami to Los Angeles,” Mayer said. “Last year, we had 26 states and two foreign countries. The recording will allow us to reach an international audience.”

Ostrow also produced the Grammy-nominated recordings of the Santa Fe Opera’s “Cold Mountain” and “The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs.”