The Star-Scape Singers’ first European tour was launched on April 5, 1983, at the Montreux International Choral Festival in Switzerland, where the ensemble was hailed as “a revelation.” Seven weeks of stunning appearances and tremendous audience response culminated in an unexpected yet triumphant recording session at the Chateau d’Amboise, Amboise, France on May 21 – the last evening of the tour!
Kenneth Mills’ creative performances of the original repertoire established an absolutely unique mode of contact wherein unrestricted vocal sound by-passed language and offered the audiences in Switzerland, England, Ireland and France a ‘heart to heart’ experience of this expression of newness.
The performances throughout this tour were infused with Mr. Mills’ sensitivity to the ambience and reverberation of each hall as he changed tempi and dynamics, and even repertoire to meet the particular acoustical demands. In some very resonant churches he seemed to be conducting more than one choir, ensuring that the tones bouncing back would not conflict with those being sung.
Side One of the recording was done at the Chateau d’Amboise new Tours, France – one of the oldest and most beautiful of the royal residences in the Loire valley. At the conclusion of a tour of the castle on the morning of May 21, the temptation to try out the acoustics in the Salle des Etats overcame both conductor and singers. Upon hearing only one chord, Mr. Mills surprised the entourage with the idea of using the pure Renaissance hall as a sound studio that evening. The natural resonance was a perfect match for Star-Scape’s sound, at once ethereal and poignant.
Side Two was recorded live in concert at St. Alban’s Church in Basel, Switzerland. This was the third consecutive evening of performances which had included concerts in Zurich and Schaffhausen, subsequent to engagements in Lucerne and Montreux. The twelfth-century Early Gothic structure of St. Alban’s finds architecture naturally co-operating with music to reveal a timeless sound, bearing a poetic grace.
“What I love about the electricity of this music is that the chord structures develop incredible tensions. It’s pure; it comes right from the natural source, the heart.”
—Maestro Andrzej Straszynski, Resident Conductor, Warsaw State Opera
Star-Scape Singers: Dianne Forsyth, Stefanie Dedrick, Alberta Ridley, Linda Roedl, Chris Dedrick, Sandra Dedrick, Rob Bullock, Bob Mann, Terry Stevens, Richard Leach, Peter Thompson
Produced by Kenneth G. Mills
Engineered by John Arciuch and Peter MacKendrick
Mastered at McLear Place, Toronto