EXCELLENT REVIEWS FOR SADIE HARRISON’S As-salāmu ‘alaykum Bethlehem
‘Tis the season and all that, and while the majority of festive new releases are concerned with reheating the usual fare, there’s one new Christmas disc that i particularly want to single out. Called The Silver Stars at Play, it’s a collection of 23 contemporary Christmas carol settings, performed by the Manchester-based Kantos Chamber Choir, conducted by the choir’s founder Elspeth Slorach...But for me, the most striking carol on the album is Sadie Harrison‘s As-salāmu ʿalaykum Bethlehem, which doesn’t merely challenge the conventions of Christmas music but boldly sets out more or less to ignore them completely (brava!). Combining words from ‘O little town of Bethlehem’ with an Islamic greeting, its music – though contemplative at its epicentre – is daringly wild, so ebullient and confident in its expression of joy and optimism that the carol’s culmination sounds positively feral. Utterly amazing...The effect of Harrison’s carol is only as powerful as it is due to the astonishing determination and fervour that Kantos Chamber Choir bring to it, and that’s just as true for the more introspective and meditative performances captured on the disc as it is for firecrackers like this.
Simon Cummings 5:4 (13.12.2017)
'The Silver Stars at Play’ from Prima Facie Records features 23 world premiere carol recordings. At over 70 minutes it is a generous programme, with a cross-section of both significant and lesser-known mostly British composers...Perhaps my favourite was Sadie Harrison’s As-salāmu ‘alaykum Bethlehem, a riot of sound that bows least to the saccharine tendencies of the season. Even whilst pushing the harmonic envelope the result feels like a great shout of joy.
Christian Morris Composition Today (14.12.2017)
(19 Dec 2017)