If you are attracted to the strong sounds of well trained classical voices, you will enjoy this offering entitled "Songs for the Journey" from St. Martha’s Church of East Providence, Rhode Island. It’s an interesting mix of standard classical songs such as Schubert’s "Ave Maria", Franck’s "Panis Angelicus" and Mozart’s "Exultate Jubilate" along with songs that lean to this side of contemporary such as "How Beautiful" and "Prayer of St. Francis. There are also several original compositions by Stephen DeCesare.
Stephen DeCesare along with Christiana Rodi are the two soloists on this CD who are obviously trained vocalists. They are able to bring across the depth of the classical pieces as well as the sincerity of the more contemporary songs.
The original songs written by Stephen DeCesare have solid messages of our faith and draw very closely from actual scripture. One song in particular "Magdalene" is a song which intersperses narration of the scriptures of Mary Magdalen washing the feet of Jesus with musical dialogue alternating where Jesus rebukes the Pharisee’s comments in her defense. The song "Choose Life" has a very strong message of contemplation where the pregnant woman has a conversation with Jesus about what to do and in response of her question, he states that she should "choose life." The alternating voices of male and female in these songs although logical in the text, made me feel as though I was listening to a musical. There wasn’t enough information on the CD inserts to indicate if this might in fact have been the case of music to go along with a skit or play setting.
All in all, Songs for the Journey is a solid CD although the classical pieces were pretty predictable in the Catholic music repertoire almost to a fault as they are encountered on many CDs. I felt at times the strong voices and the background music weren’t always in synch in regards to volume compatibility. The original songs were thought-provoking and blended in well with the known classical pieces. The strong vocal power carries this CD and will provide the listener with good listening on the whole.
To purchase a copy, contact St. Martha's Parish in East Providence RI:
Address: 2595 Pawtucket Avenue, East Providence, R.I. 02914-3292
parish email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone: (401) 434-4060
Fax: (401) 434-4849
Reviewed by Sally Bolderson
About the Author
Susan Bailey is the author of River of Grace: Creative Passages Through Difficult Times (Ave Maria Press), and Louisa May Alcott: Illuminated by The Message (ACTA Publications), part of their Literary Portals to Prayer series. Along with her blogs Be as One and Louisa May Alcott is My Passion, Susan writes for the Diocese of Worcester newspaper, The Catholic Free Press.