Recorded February, 1996

Erato 14773-2


Anne Azema, Noel Bisson, Ellen Santaniello, Margaret Swanson: soprano
Elizabeth Anker, Megan Henderson, Mary Ann Valaitis: alto
John Delorey, Bruce Fithian, John Fleagle: tenor
Paul Cummings, Stephen Falbel, Joel Frederiksen, Donald Wilkinson: bass
Frances Fitch, keyboards - Robert Mealy violin
Carol Lewis, Lynn Tetenbaum, Emily Walhout, bass viola da gamba
Janet Haas violone - Benjamin Harms: percussion
Heather Kellgree, Melia Repko, Judy Saite: harp
Monica Attell, Hiroko Kajimoto, Kenji Kikuchi, Cynthia Pickett: piccolo
with the participation of Christophe Morin: cello (Angel of Death)


Douglas Kirk: slide trumpet & cornett
Steven Lundahl, Mark Ramsey, Daniel Stillman: sackbut & recorder


Murray Forbes Somerville director


Martin Johnson, Ned Cameron, Barret Goldsmith soloists -
Hazel Somerville artistic director

Production coordinators: Leslie Beyer, Annelise Skovmand
Special thanks to the Shaker Community of Sabbathday Lake, Maine, for access to unpublished musical manuscripts Producer/editing: Ysabelle Van Wersch-Cot Sound engineer: Jacques Doll Technical Facilities: Soundmirror: John Newton and Mark Donahue Recording: 02/1996, Weston Massachusetts USA (Campion Center) The computer synthesizer and transformed part was produced at the MIT Media Lab, Boston Massachusetts Mixing: 10/1996 & 01/1997, IRCAM Paris Sound engineers: Jacques Doll and Fredric Prin

Assistant: Gerard D'Elia - Production assistant to Tod Machover: Edward Hammond

Coming Soon...

Track List

I Angel of Light

1. Angel of Light (Noel Bisson) 1'24
2. Angeli Domini (John Feagle and chorus) 0'59

II Cherubim & Seraphim

3. Prospect (chorus) 2'34
4. Laudemus Dominum, quem laudant Angeli (men's chorus) 0'43
5. Sanctus (Noel Bisson, Anne Azema, and women's chorus) 3'12

III. Heavenly Hosts

6. High on a hill of dazzling light 2'32
(Donald Wilkinson, Joel Frederiksen, Bruce Fithian, male chorus, and instruments)
7. Angeli, Archangeli, Throni et Dominationis (Bruce Fithian) 0'55
8. Thrones and dominions round him fall (chorus) 1'50

IV. The Archangel Michael

9. Princeps gloriosissime (Joel Frederiksen) 1'05
10. Let mortal tongues attempt to sing (chorus and instruments) 1'34
11. Factum est praelium magnum in caelo (Bruce Fithian) 0'35
12. Alleluia, Sancte Michael Archangele 4'02
(John Fleagle, Bruce Fithian, and male chorus)

V. The War In Heaven

13. The Hosts of Hell (chorus) 3'26
14. Dum praeliaretur Michael Archangelus (John Fleagle and chorus) 1'31
15. Father William's March (John Fleagle, chorus, piccolos and drum) 2'59
16. Alle psallite cum luya (women's chorus) 0'36
17. Sancti Angeli, custodes nostri (chorus) 1'14
18. Ecce ego mittam Angelum meum (Elizabeth Anker) 0'46
19. Omnes sunt administratori spiritus (women's voices) 0'42
20. Declaration of the Mighty Angels (men's chorus) 1'29
21. Your camps shall be searched (small chorus) 1'18
22. The call of an Angel (Donald Wilkinson) 1'32
23. Sancti Angeli, custodes nostri (reprise) (chorus) 0'36
24. Shaker: Angel of Light (reprise) (Noel Bisson) 1'58
25. Custodes hominum psallimus Angelos (chorus) 1'40
26. O little children (boy soloist) 1'00

VII. The Angel of Death

27. The Angel of Death 2'34
Tod Machover (Christophe Morin cello, men's chorus)

VIII. The Consoling Angel

28. Mulier, quid ploras? quem queris? 3'02
(Anne Azema and chorus of women and children)

IX. Paradise

29. Trumpet of Salvation (chorus and instruments) 3'18
30. Leander (solo voices and instruments) 2'07
31. Sailor's Home children's chorus 1'25
32. The Golden Harp women's chorus and harps 3'10

The following is a synopsis of Angels by Joel Cohen and Tod Machover, as performed by The Boston Camerata and assisting artists. Complete texts and translations (as well as an hour of very unusual music) are available with purchase of the recording.


I. Angel of Light
an angel. Certain angels are believed to intercede for humankind in times of need: " And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon [him], and a light shone in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise quickly. And his chains fell off from [his] hands. (Acts 12:7)" [Angel of Light (Shaker)] But angels are also said to move above and beyond the human realm. In heaven, far from the world of terrestrial men and women, their task is to sing eternal praise. [Angeli Domini (Gregorian)]

II. Cherubim & Seraphim
In the heavenly order, the seraphs and the cherubs (not the cute little babes of greeting cards and costume jewelry, but gigantic, terrifying beings wielding swords of fire) guard the holy Throne, and, like the satraps of an oriental court, serve as counsellors to the Divinity. [Prospect (The Sacred Harp)] Concerning the Seraphs, the prophet Isaiah had a vision, so powerful that it is still central to both Jewish and Christian liturgies:

"Isa 6:1 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.
Isa 6:2 Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.
Isa 6:3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.
Isa 6:4 And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. "

[Laudemus Dominum, quem laudant Angeli (Gregorian); Sanctus (Guillaume de Machaut, ca. 1300-1377)]

III. Heavenly Hosts
Good and Evil are engaged in a cosmic struggle. Gradually, preparations for the battle are undertaken. In opposing camps are the Angels of Light, led by the Archangel Michael, and the Angels of Darkness, led by Satan-Lucifer. [High on a hill of dazzling light (tune: Clamanda , in The Sacred Harp)] Preparing for war, the Armies of the Lord gather, arrayed in their hierarchical orders. [Angeli, Archangeli, Throni et Dominationis (Gregorian); Thrones and dominions round him fall (Tune: Clamanda)]

IV. The Archangel Michael
Saint Michael Saint Michael is the commander-in-chief of the army of God. In medieval art, he is generally shown in armor, wielding a sword. And he prefers the vantage point of high places: many hilltop towns and fortresses of old Europe are named after him. [Princeps gloriosissime (Gregorian); Let mortal tongues attempt to sing (Tune: Clamanda)]. Michael is ordained to enter into combat against the dragon. [Factum est preaelium magnum in caelo] Just before the battle is engaged, prayers are offered up for protection from the powerful Army of Satan. [Alleluia, Sancte Michael Archangele (Gregorian)]

V. The War in Heaven
"My bowels, my bowels! I am pained at my very heart; my heart maketh a noise in me; I cannot hold my peace, because thou hast heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war. " Jer 4:19 [The Hosts of Hell (Tune: Weeping Saviour, in The Sacred Harp)] In the battle with the dragon, Michael emerges victorious, and the angels of light sing praises. [Dum praeliaretur Michael Archangelus (Gregorian)]
In celebration, a victory march, from an unpublished Shaker manuscript, performed in the style of a Continental fife-and-drum corps. [Father William's March (Shaker)] To celebrate Satan's defeat in battle, the angels of heaven dance. [Alle psallite cum luya (Anonymous, 13th c.)]

VI. Declarations of the Mighty Angels
The role of the Guardian Angels is to protect their charges against the forces of evil. [Sancti Angeli, custodes nostri (Gregorian)] The Voice of God, speaking from the Book of Exodus, sends a guardian angel to mankind -- and orders mankind to obey. [Ecce ego mittam Angelum meum (Gregorian)] Guardian angels are seen as ministering spirits. [Omnes sunt administratori spiritus (Gregorian) But the Guardian Angels are not necessarily sweet friends. They can also find impurity in the heart of man. They can chastise and punish. [Declaration of the Mighty Angels (Shaker);Your camps shall be searched (Shaker)] Judging our weakness, they exhort us to do better. [The call of an Angel (Shaker)]. Mankind remembers that terrible cosmic battle, and turns to the angels for protection [Sancti Angeli, custodes nostri (Gregorian); Angel of Light (Shaker)] Within a big Gothic church, a congregation has gathered. Singing voices implore the Guardian Angels to protect their country from sickness of the soul. Outside, the forces of darkness hover and whirl. [Custodes hominum psallimus Angelos (Gregorian); O little children (Shaker)]

VII. The Angel of Death

VIII. The Consoling Angel
Mourning, the three Marys come to Jesus' tomb, and find it empty. These texts and melodies are from plays that were acted in the churches of medieval France at Eastertide. [Mulier, quid ploras? quem queris? -- Douce dame qui si plourés]

IX. Paradise
"And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." Mat 24:31 [Trumpet of Salvation (Shaker)] The redeemed rejoice at their arrival in Heaven. [Leander (Jeremiah Ingalls, in The Sacred Harp)] The human soul, released from temporal cares, takes on angelic wings... [Sailor's Home (The Southern Harmony)] ...and joins in the most essential charge of the angel host: to make the music of eternal praise. "And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters... and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: And they sung as it were a new song before the throne." Rev 14:2,3 [The Golden Harp (The Sacred Harp)]

This text is (c) 1997 by Joel Cohen. Many of these medieval images (we only reproduce the thumbnails) can be found on the Bibliothèque Nationale's magnificent Web Page . Un grand merci!

Coming Soon...