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‘Cycles of My Being’ is a work of both anguish and optimism, at once accusatory and stirring...whose traversal feels like a descent into a maelstrom followed by the emergence out the other side.
Rare are the classical singers who use their celebrity cachet to help generate new repertory. One shining example is Lawrence Brownlee, who regards the commissioning of music by living composers and sharing it with audiences around the world an essential part of who he is as a performing artist.
Sorey’s music allows Brownlee to do what he does best — to soar effortlessly into the vocal stratosphere, nail perfectly placed high notes and invest them with expressive meaning.
[Brownlee] knew he wanted to bring the defiant energy of the Black Lives Matter movement into the concert hall
[An] eagerly anticipated new set of songs
The experiences of black men in America today are making their way onto the classical concert stage
‘Cycles of My Being’ is an uncompromising work, which casts the poet’s profound meditations on racial injustice in music close to recitative, unfettered by traditional harmonies, irregular in rhythm, loose and elusive in shape....Brownlee’s concentration and commitment, in a forceful and probing delivery, maintained interest despite the rigors of the music...The singer ended on a jubilant tone in what was almost a sunburst of lyricism, his voice seeming released and celebratory.
One of the things you can do as an artist with star power like the tenor Lawrence Brownlee is use that cachet to add to the repertoire.
Sorey’s settings are absolutely masterful and fit Brownlee like a glove... it rose to a passionate climax, then faded to a quiet, contemplative close.
The piece ends suddenly and quietly. Here is an existential question delivered in a small moment, and the sensation of a larger meaning coming into focus with a musical gesture felt startlingly familiar. It was like Schubert. But of now, and us.
timely composition about America’s most pressing crisis
the songs move through an emotional spectrum from hope to hate, spiritual longing to resilience.
It’s refreshing to hear a new composition like Cycles of My Being addressing the artists’ experiences in such an unequivocal way. The message conveyed is a crucial one, and today’s classical music audience is richer for having Cycles in the world, and for Brownlee and his collaborators bringing themselves so wholly to their artistic endeavors.
places a firm finger on the pulse of tensions within the country
Sorey’s new song cycle...adds another facet to an increasingly prismatic oeuvre
Cycles of My Being demonstrates the searching quality that sets Brownlee apart from many of his contemporaries.
‘Cycles of My Being’ is an unflinching meditation, where explorations of hate and hope mix to create an accurate picture of the struggle — here and now — of being a black man in America...powerful and affecting.