Choral Society of Durham, Rodney Wynkoop, conductor, with Jane Lynch, accompanist. Live recording, December 7-8, 2001. (DDD; 51:41) Available as a premium for Friends who contribute $500 or more, or from Choral Society of Durham members or at concerts for $15, or by mail for $17 (payee: Choral Society of Durham, 120 Morris Street, Durham, NC 27701). The complete contents and a printable order form are at

The latest CD from the Choral Society of Durham preserves performances given in December 2001. The concerts paid tribute to Robert Shaw, widely considered America’s greatest choral conductor and, with his long-time associate Alice Parker, our greatest arranger of choral music, too. As it happens, conductor Rodney Wynkoop is widely considered the Triangle’s finest master of choruses, and the CSD has long been viewed as our most important large choir. Put all these things together on a single CD and the result is one of the best “local-issue” recordings to date. ‘Tis said that good things often come in small packages. This one – measuring 5-1/2″ x 5″ x 3/8″ – is ideal for last-minute placement in stretch stockings or under holiday trees.

The CD contains eleven of the famous Parker-Shaw arrangements of carols from around the world and seven traditional American works and spirituals, two of which are given in arrangements by William L. Dawson. The latter and three mainstream “classical” choruses long associated with Shaw were among the works performed at Shaw’s funeral service. If these choruses -“Ain’-a That Good News,” “Soon Ah Will Be Done,” and excerpts from Rachmaninov’s All-Night Vigil , Brahms’ German Requiem , and Haydn’s Creation – help introduce CD purchasers to the splendor of the CSD and inspire them to attend a live performance, so much the better.

The performances were taped, edited, and mastered by VoChor Digital Recording, and in some respects the results are superior to being in Duke Chapel. That’s because the microphones were positioned in close proximity to the singers, resulting in CD sound that is vibrantly immediate and “live.” The booklet contains texts/translations of the 21 works presented, although the diction is good enough that the printed words are hardly needed.