American Voices was conducted by William O. Baker with piano accompaniment by O. Wayne Smith. It was recorded May 14 and 15, 2007, and May 10, 2008 in Faith Lutheran Church in Prairie Village, Kansas. Special thanks to Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral in Kansas City, Missouri, and Faith Lutheran Church in Prairie Village, Kansas, who provide rehearsal and concert homes for the William Baker Festival Singers.
The William Baker Festival Singers of Kansas City is a 50-voice semi-professional chorus specializing in sacred a cappella classics and spirituals, in addition to masterworks for chorus and chamber orchestra. The ensemble is based in metro-Kansas City and continues the Festival Singers tradition begun in Atlanta in 1985. The membership of the WBFS-Kansas City is comprised of some of the finest professional and amateur singers in the Heartland region. Singers travel from Topeka, Kansas on the west and Garden City, Missouri on the east to be a part of the William Baker Festival Singers.
In their first fourteen seasons, the Festival Singers has performed challenging and diverse a cappella classics from Renaissance to Contemporary, and has delighted audiences across the region with their authentic renditions of American folk music, African-American spirituals, and gospel songs. The Festival Singers has given tour performances from New Orleans to Des Moines to Atlanta. The choir has produced several nationally-marketed recordings and appeared in numerous radio and television programs.
The annual performance of choral/orchestral masterpieces by the William Baker Festival Singers is a highlight of the concert season in Kansas City. Recent concerts have included the first performances in decades by Kansas City-based ensembles of the Bach: St. Matthew Passion in 2007, and the Mass in B minor in 2009. Other renowned concerts have included Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem, Bernstein: Missa Brevis and Chichester Psalms, Kodaly’s Laudes Organi, and the Requiems of Durufle, Rutter and Mozart. In 2012 the Festival Singers presented the first performance of Ernest Bloch’s Avodath Hakodesh in Kansas City in over 30 years. The performance was broadcast in its entirety on Kansas Public Radio.