“…The highlights were too numerous to mention. The Copley Singers provided several, including a compelling reading of Samuel Barber’s “Agnus Dei,” which uses the music of his Adagio pretty much intact and thus (thanks partly to Oliver Stone’s film “Platoon”) carries resonances appropriate to this occasion; and a powerful setting of “We Are Climbing Jacob’s Ladder” by a choir member, Andrew Clarkson. The Young People’s Chorus was appealing in numbers picked up on a tour of South America. The Bach Choir of Bethlehem sang a Brahms motet (“Lass Dich Nur Nichts”) with all the polish and fervor that it brought to cantatas by its namesake.”
“…When an artist takes a risk—such as leaving behind more lucrative careers to all in with one’s art—some doubt is inevitable. “It’s still in the back of my mind,” Clarkson confides as we sit in St. Paul’s chapel. This from a man who wrote a piece the year after the 9/11 attacks that was singled out in The New York Times when played at a choral festival commemorating the 10-year anniversary. Why on earth would there be any hesitation at this point in his career?”
“…One minor concession to whimsy on Brian’s part came in an exquisite arrangement of a traditional American setting of “Away in a Manger” by Andrew Clarkson, a choir member. This certainly deserves to be better known. The gorgeous melody is quietly lit with an ethereal and very quiet soprano descant, which hangs over the final verse like gentle beams of light. I was certainly left preferring it to the traditional Kirkpatrick setting. A little judiciously used vibrato warmed through the sound in a most appealing way to make this simple piece a real highlight.”
“…According to Lanzarotta, the event has recently experienced renewed energy, due in part to Andrew Clarkson, St. Paul’s music director for the past three years. A graduate of Harvard College, Clarkson also has a doctorate in organizational behavior from Boston University, which Lanzarotta believes comes in especially handy when working with musicians and churches.
‘Andy could inspire a rock to sing,’ she says. ‘Besides being a really talented musician, he’s just a person of infectious enthusiasm and total encouragement for singers and musicians.’”