Three Songs / Songs from Liquid Days / Vessels
Music by Philip Glass
The Crouch End Festival Chorus
National Sinfonia
David Temple, conductor


Silva Classics SILKD 6023


THREE SONGS – For Choir a Capella
1. There Are Some Men 2:54
2. Quand les Hommes Vivront d’Amour 3:00
3. Pierre de Soleil 4:02

VESSELS from KOYAANISQATSI – For Choir, Saxophones and Flute
4. Vessels (from Koyaanisqatsi) 7:55

SONGS FROM LIQUID DAYS – For Choir, Soloists and Orchestra
5. Changing Opinion 8:59
6. Lightning 6:47
7. In Liquid Days 5:09
8. Open The Kingdom 8:31
9. Freezing 3:28
10. Forgetting 9:07


Unless you raid the operas, there is very little music by Philip Glass for chorus which can be performed in concert. I was musing on this one Friday evening — during a rehearsal of the Three songs for Crouch End Festival Chorus’s 1997 performance at Snape Maltings — when a little phrase suddenly reminded me of the song Liquid Days. And from that association grew the idea of making a version of Songs from liquid days for chorus and orchestra.

Right from the beginning, I was determined to make an arrangement that the casual listener would be surprised to learn hadn’t been made by Mr Glass himself and I strove to keep the arrangement as idiomatic as possible.

I was also very concerned to produce a version that stood a chance of performance. This means, as much as anything, that it should not be gratuitously expensive to mount. So, I reasoned, if I gave the choir a lot of the music previously performed by instruments — brass, synthesisers and so on — the orchestra could be reduced to flutes, strings, piano and organ (plus lots of percussion for Lightning), retaining the essential components of the original soundworld of the album.

Discussing this arrangement with Philip Glass was immensely helpful, and encouraging, and resulted in a number of the features of the final version. The retention of both piano and organ in Open the Kingdom was at his request; on the other hand, he readily agreed to my idea of ‘fading out’ the piano in Changing Opinion. Glass also sanctioned the small cuts in the first song, made solely to tighten up a structure which otherwise tends to be a bit too much of a good thing. Apart from these particular cuts, all the songs on this album follow the first recorded version bar by bar (plus a few extra repeats in Open the Kingdom and Forgetting where the sonority and power of the choir justified them.)

This version differs fundamentally from a mere transcription in that the cycle of choral songs has been thoroughly thought through as a dramatic work in its own right and the listener familiar with the original album will detect very many small points of departure from that version (starting at the very beginning). Also the order of the songs has been changed for this arrangement.

I was greatly aided by having access to the composer’s original drafts of Lightning, In Liquid Days, Freezing and Forgetting, which themselves differ in many respects from how the songs appear on the first album. However, I have certainly not blindly reinstated original versions of passages which the composer changed later.

As usual with Glass, the six songs are all fashioned from a modest set of melodic and harmonic material and the composer’s ability to create completely different atmospheres from not only simple material, but the same simple material, is a tour de force. And, although I believe each song could be performed in isolation, there is no doubt that together they form a total, greater than the sum of its parts.

For this album the orchestra and choir were recorded direct to stereo 2-track, being mixed simultaneously, in order to give the feel of a “live” performance as, after all, the music is arranged to be performed in concert without the benefit of studio technology. The solo vocals where then added later.

The Three Songs were commissioned for the 350th Anniversary of Quebec in 1984 and, like Songs from liquid days, the Three Songs set words from a wide variety of sources. Perhaps because they are sung a capella, they are tighter, more concise. And if anyone doubted Glass’s ability to write powerful, melodic (non-minimalist) music they need look no further than the first of these songs, There are some men.

Vessels comes from one of Glass’s finest scores, the soundtrack to the film Koyaanisqatsi. As with Songs from Liquid Days, this performance goes back to Philip Glass’s manuscript, which explains why the instrumentation of the current performance— flute, soprano and tenor saxophones — differs from that of the other recorded versions.

— Jeremy Marchant,
July 2000

Crouch End Festival Chorus was founded in 1984 by David Temple and John Gregson, who had met and sung together in the London Philharmonic Choir, Under their guidance and innovative leadership, CEFC has risen to be one of the leading large choirs in the UK, with repertoire encompassing both the standard classics and less familiar works from the twentieth and twenty-first century. Highlights during the course of the choir’s history include the first performance in Poland of Tippett’s A Child Of Our Time in 1994 and, in the same year the choir sang at the fiftieth anniversary of this work in the presence of the composer. In 1997 the choir were invited to sing in Act 2 of Satyagraha in a Royal Festival Hall concert celebrating Philip Glass’ 60th birthday.

CEFC regularly commission new large-scale works. These include Paul Patterson’s Hells Angels and two works by Joby Talbot — who combines composition with arrangement and keyboard duties for the band The Divine Comedy.

The choir maintains a busy recording schedule, including two album of Cinema Choral Classics for Silva Classics — which achieved chart success in America — and a double CD of Britten’s The Company Of Heaven and Will Todd’s The Burning Road. Recently the choir released an album of Christmas Choral Classics and performed in London’s Millennium Concert with Simply Red, The Eurythmics and soprano Lesley Garrett.

David Temple has emerged over the past ten years as one of Britain’s most enterprising and respected choral conductors. His musical experience began in the London Philharmonic Choir, where he sang tenor under John Alldis. In 1984 he began to work with the newly formed Crouch End Festival Chorus. Under his direction CEFC have achieved great success, with an outstanding record of both bold innovation and the highest musical standards. In 1994 David established his chamber choir, Cryes of London. He is also choir master for the Norfolk and Norwich Festival, who in 1998 gave the world premiere of a new song-cycle by Ray Davies of The Kinks. David was recently appointed Music Director for the Hertfordshire Chorus and Choral Director for the London College of Music.

Najma Akhtar is one of the principal creative forces of the last decade to have made innovative popular music, based on traditional North Asian forms, modernised for a young European sensibility.

Born and brought up in England and although a graduate in Chemical Engineering, Najma has proved to be a versatile and successful recording artist. This has led to the release of not only 5 albums of her own work but also the opportunity to have artistic collaborations with some of the world’s most influential musicians.

With the release of her first album Qareeb in 1987 Najma became a new and acclaimed figure on the European ‘World Music’ scene. Music from this album featured in Hanif Qureshi’s film Sammy And Rosie Get Laid. Her follow-up album Atish (1989) built on the success of the first album and reached No.4 in the American Billboard World Music Chart. Pukar — Calling You (1992) was a natural progression and exploited a new instrumentation including the Shenai (Indian Horn), Oud (Persian stringed instrument) and the African Marimba. The title track featured in a yearlong TV commercial for the Fuji Bank, hence Najma’s tours of Japan being met with rapturous enthusiasm.

In 1994 Najma performed with Robert Plant and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin for their MTV special “Unplugged” She has appeared as guest vocalist on albums by Jah Wobble, Andy Summers, Steve Coleman, the Canadian band Delirium, and Jethro Tull’s last album “Dot Com”.

In 1998 Najma made her debut as vocalist and actress at the National Theatre in their production of Haroon And The Sea Of Stories adapted from the Salman Rushdie book.

Throughout her career Najma has made numerous film, radio and TV appearances throughout the world. Her own personal highlights include performing with Nina Simone at the London Dominion Theatre: being the first Asian artist to perform at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in Soho; head-lining on the Jazz stages at the Glastonbury and Reading festivals and 4 consecutive nights at the Jazz Café in London.

Wills Morgan studied voice with Edward Brooks at the Royal College of Music and with George Vassos at the Cleveland Institute of Music. Wills began his professional career in the chorus of English National Opera and in 1996 made his principal debut in the British premiere of Bernd Alois Zimmermann’s opera Die Soldaten. In 1998 he directed his first opera, Monteverdi’s Orfeo for Cambridge University Opera Society.

He made his London South Bank debut in Mike Westbrook’s chamber opera Coming Through Slaughter, creating the role of Jazz pioneer Charles “Buddy” Bolden. Subsequent opera roles include Stravinsky’s Rake, Puccini’s Rodolfo, Verdi’s Count Alvaro and in 1999 Gaston de Letorieres in La Traviata and Nadir in The Pearlfishers. 2000 sees him starring in Mike Westbrook’s latest opera Jago.

Wills is one of the group of vocalists who work with leading contemporary dance, theatre and music ensembles: prominent among these are a 19-voice “Choir of Babel” known as The Shout and a group co-founded by Wills with soprano Moira Harris and pianist Richard Black called The Artsong Collective. Other groups that he has appeared with are Cultural Industry, The Resurrectionists, The Mike Westbrook Brass Band, Ya Basta! And Musica Fabula.

Concert highlights for Wills include Porgy And Bess under Sir Simon Rattle at the Barbican, and the same work at The Proms with Wayne Marshall and Hiawatha’S Wedding Feast at Harvard University. He made his Royal Festival Hall debut in 1999 with Porgy And Bess with David Temple and the Crouch End Festival Chorus.

Wills is currently involved in making two new song recordings with The Artsong Collective and features on the recent recording of Leonard Bernstein’s The White House Cantata conducted by Kent Nagano.


Music Composed by Philip Glass. Performed by Crouch End Festival Chorus and The National Sinfonia conducted by David Temple.

Leader: Alan Brind. Piano on Songs from Liquid Days: Elizabeth Shepherd. Tenor and Soprano Saxophones on Vessels: David Roach. Flute on Vessels : Paola Bonora. Solo Vocals on Songs From Liquid Days: Najma Akhtar (Freezing, Forgetting) and Wills Morgan (Changing Opinion, Open the Kingdom).

Words on Three Songs for Chorus a Capella by: Leonard Cohen (There Are Some Men), Raymond Lévesque (Quand les Hommes Vivront d’Amour), Octavio Paz (Pierre de Soleil).

Lyrics on Songs from Liquid Days by: Paul Simon (Changing Opinion), Suzanne Vega (Lightning, Freezing), David Byrne (In Liquid Days, Open the Kingdom), Laurie Anderson (Forgetting).
Words © Dunvagen Music Publishers, Inc / Chester Music Ltd. All rights reserved.

Songs from Liquid Days arranged by Jeremy Marchant.

Three Songs commissioned by Quebec 1534 — 1984 Festival.

Produced by Jeremy Marchant and David Temple. Associate Producers: Nic Raine and Gareth Williams. Executive Producers: Reynold da Silva and James Fitzpatrick. Release Co-ordination: David Stoner.
Digitally Recorded Direct to 2-Track Stereo by Mike Ross-Trevor at Whitfield Street Studios, London — July & November 1999. Additional Solo Vocals recorded by lan Shepherd at SRT, St. Ives, Cambridge. Editing and Mastering by Gareth Williams at SRT, St.lves, Cambridge

Album Design: Colin Parker (Inspired by the calligramme ‘Il Pleut’ by Apollinaire).
Najma Akhtar appears courtesy of Last Minute Productions.

Special Thanks must go to the people who helped in the preparation of this recording: Jeremy Marchant, Catherine Manners — Chester Music Ltd., Jim Keller and Ramona Kirschenman — Dunvagen Music, Kurt Munkacsi, Nic Raine, Mike Ross-Trevor, Pauline Hoyle, David Temple and all the members of Crouch End Festival Chorus. Nick Turner and The National Sinfonia — and especially Philip Glass.

All Music Published by Dunvagen Music Publishers, Inc. / Chester Music Ltd. © 20000 Silva Screen Records Ltd. 3 Prowse Place, Camden Town, London NW1 9PH.



Three songs for chorus a cappella
Songs from Liquid Days

Koyaanisqatsi on Nonesuch
Philip on Film on Nonesuch

Koyaanisqatsi by Godfrey Reggio