Gregory Spears is a composer of refined and “astonishingly beautiful” (New York Times) instrumental and vocal works. His recording debut is marked by Requiem, an otherworldly album-length composition scored for six voices, baroque viola, harp, troubadour harp, recorders, and electric organ, containing vastly eclectic influences. While the piece’s title and instrumentation suggest a characteristically baroque structure, these indices are juxtaposed with Feldmanesque harmony, Reichian repetition, and motet-like vocal stylings, liberating the piece from a particular musical era. The music is wedded to an array of time- and place-exclusive languages, including Latin, Middle French, and Breton, allowing for further multi-referentiality and conceptual intricacy.
The piece premiered in in June 2010 as an opera an opera/dance collaboration with choreographer Christopher Williams for his dance production Hen’s Teeth. The performance enhanced the collage-esque sonic references with the disparate imagery of 19th century Breton fairy tales, Greek mythology, and middle age relics. The interdisciplinary realization was called “splendid” and “the jangling together of singing voices, violin, harp, recorder, chimes, and electric organ is magical, like feathers stroking the back of your neck” (Village Voice). The New York Times called Spears’ score “the most distinguished component of the evening,” the instrumentation evoking a “shimmering medieval aura,” and New Yorker critic Alex Ross described it as “cooly entrancing.”