St Saint Charles Singers perform the choral music of John Rutter St Charles Singers
Proteus Entertainment  John Rutter Choral Music

St. Charles Singers, Metropolis Chamber Orchestra, 
Jeffrey Hunt, Conductor

Released October 21, 2003

Proteus Entertainment Inc.

Selection number 4027

UPC  8 21254-4027-2 9

Produced by Gerry Fisher, Jim Manfre, Jeffrey Hunt, David Hunt.

Executive Producers Gerry Fisher and Jim Manfre.

Recorded in June 2003 at Baker Memorial United Methodist Church, St. Charles, Illinois.

Engineered and mixed by John Towner.  Mixed at Maxim Entertainment, Hoffman Estates, Illinois.  

Mastered by Michael Lyons at Lyonshead Mastering Studio, Hoffman Estates, Illinois.

Art direction by Eric Hofmeister.  Group photo by Keith Kesner.  Cover art by Al Brandtner.

1 – 6. Fancies                                                                                                                   
A cycle of choral settings with small orchestra
                By John Rutter 
Tell Me Where Is Fancy Bred     1:53 
There Is a Garden in Her Face      3:36 
The Urchins’ Dance     2:08 
Riddle Song      3:19 
Midnight’s Bell   2:37 
The Bellman’s Song    2.32 
7. Flower of Beauty     2:31     
            By John Clements
8. The Keel Row      2:14
            Arranged by John Rutter
9. The Turtle Dove    2:40
           Arranged by R. Vaughan Williams
10. Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair    2:17
            Arranged by Stuart Churchill
11. Lamorna     2:22
            Arranged by Goff Richards
12.Black Sheep    1:51
            Arranged by John Rutter
13. Down by the Sally Gardens     2:33
            Arranged by John Rutter
14. He’s Gone Away    3:01
            Arranged by Ron Nelson
15. Swansea Town     3:03
            Arranged by Gustav Holst
16. The Oak and The Ash     3:17
            Arranged by Gordon Langford
17. Early One Morning     1:48
            Arranged by David Willcocks
18. I Know Where I’m Going     2:45
            Arranged by John Rutter
19. Londonderry Air       2:58
            Arranged by Percy Grainger
20. Shenandoah     3:25
            Arranged by James Erb

Christmas in St. Charles

St. Charles Singers, Metropolis Chamber Orchestra, 
Jeffrey Hunt, Conductor

            Goran Ivanovic, Guitar, Ellen Coman, Accompanist

Released August 17, 2004

Proteus Entertainment Inc.

Selection number 9001

UPC  8 21254-9001-2 6

Produced by Gerry Fisher, Jim Manfre, Jeffrey Hunt, David Hunt, and Larry Dieffenbach.

Executive Producers Gerry Fisher and Jim Manfre.

Recorded in July 2004 at Baker Memorial United Methodist Church, St. Charles, Illinois.

Engineered and mixed by John Towner at Maxim Entertainment, Hoffman Estates, Illinois.  Engineering intern: Brian Losch.

Mastered by Michael Lyons at Lyonshead Mastering Studio, Hoffman Estates, Illinois.

Art direction and cover photo by Eric Hofmeister.  Group photo by Keith Kesner.

Sans Day Carol            (Rutter)             3:09 
Away in a Manger (Rutter)                     2:09 
Nativity Carol (Rutter)                            4:26 
Quittez, Pasteurs (Rutter)                      2:17 
I Sing of a Maiden (Hadley)                    4:43 
Bogoroditse Djevo (Part)                        1:17 
I Wonder as I Wander (Boyd)                 2:21 
Angels We Have Heard (Parker/Shaw)    1:55 
For Unto Us a Child Is Born (Handel)      3:54 
While Stars Their Vigil Keep (Luvaas)     2:10 
Spanish Lullaby  (Carter)                       3:14 
Masters in This Hall (Parker/Shaw)        2:08 
Christmas Night            (Rutter)            4:32 
The Little Road to Bethleham (Head)      2:49 
Donkey Carol (Rutter)                           4:11 
Jingle Bells (Langford)                           1:57 
Ding Dong Merrily on High (Willcocks)    2:20 
El Noy de la Mare (Guitar solo)              2:44 
Still, Still, Still (Goran Ivanovic, guitar)     3:26 

American Record Guide
Nov/Dec 2005
Christmas in St Charles
Goran Ivanovic, g; St Charles Singers, Metropolis Chamber Orchestra / Jeffrey Hunt
Proteus 9001 - 54 minutes
 This is a delightful holiday release from the sweet sounding St Charles Singers, whom I've praised before in these pages (M/A 2004, p 244).  They bring us a well-chosen mix of familiar carols in pleasing arrangements, plus quite a few lesser-known international items - with three novel pieces from the Hispanic tradition.  We get both a cappella and instrumentally-supported selections, including one with guitar - even a lovely interlude for solo guitar. 

Mr Hunt draws exceptionally clear, precise, and balanced singing from his people.  Their versatility impresses, both sonically and stylistically.  In some of their gentler pieces, the women sing with an almost boyish purity, imparting a touching sense of naiveté to the music.  But they also do full-throated justice to the grander numbers, as in Handel's "For Unto Us a Child is Born".  They never fail to touch the heart while pleasing the ear.

 Their supporting chamber orchestra plays very well.  Vibrant, up front sound and a nicely-done booklet complete a package that will make a welcome gift.



The GRAMOPHONE    February 2005

Christmas in St Charles        Proteus 9001

 This is quite lovely…

 The emphasis is on the impeccable vocal blend of the Illinois choir, named after their home town, and clear precise diction… 

…there are a number of unusual pieces which will not be found on the usual seasonal recording… 

John Story 


The Post-Crescent, Appleton-Neenah-Menasha, Wis

Dec 19, 2004

The Best of 2004 

Western Chicagoland is the source of three worthy CDs.  "Christmas In St. Charles," recorded by the St. Charles Singers in the "other" Fox River Valley. Contains a program of mostly familiar carols excellently sung. 

 Dr. Gerry Grzyb, aka Dr. Christmas

Christmas In St Charles

November 2004, Artistic Quality 9, Sound Quality 7

 This excellent choir from St. Charles, Illinois offers a well-sung Christmas program that's focused primarily on pieces by John Rutter (six of the 19 tracks) and other more or less familiar carol arrangements by the likes of David Willcocks and Alice Parker/Robert Shaw. The rest of the disc offers less-common but invariably interesting works by Andrew Carter (an engaging setting of the text "A la nanita nana", titled Spanish Lullaby), Morten Luvass (a lovely cradle song, While stars their vigil keep), and Arvo Pärt, whose setting of Bogoróditse Djévo (Ave Maria) is flavored with exciting rhythms and is cast in a colorful East European harmonic idiom. The ensemble singing is mostly first-rate, except for some intonation lapses in Angels we have heard on high and a weird and distracting heavy staccato articulation on the words "and the government shall be upon his shoulder" in Handel's For unto us a child is born. The orchestra is as good as we could want in this music, well-balanced and absolutely together in all aspects of phrasing, rhythm, and expressive mannerism. My only real complaint is the sound. While the "gem-like" Baker Memorial United Methodist Church may be wonderful for live concert performances, as reproduced here, the large, bouncy acoustic is just too reflective and resonant for a clear, detailed recording, evidenced by pieces such as "Ding dong merrily on high", where independent lines are swamped in the murky texture--an engineering problem, not a musical one. Nevertheless, there's enough rarely-heard music here to attract the attention of serious Christmas music collectors (including St. Charles tenor Robert Boyd's stirring setting of I wonder as I wander), and enough solid, technically disciplined musicianship to warrant a positive if (sonically) conditional recommendation.

--David Vernier

 American Record Guide
Cincinnati, Ohio
April 2004 review
I Know Where I’m Going
St Charles Singers, Metropolitan Chamber Orchestra/ Jeffrey Hunt

Proteus 4027--53 minutes (773-784-8806)

Here is a tasty assortment of classic English and American folksong arrangements plus like-spirited original settings from an excellent American choir.  This could just as well have been covered in the composer section, as the most substantial work here is Fancies, a six-song choral cycle with small orchestra by the ever-popular John Rutter--who also arranged four of the remaining 14 pieces.

          The cycle is vintage Rutter, with settings--by turns sentimental and lively--of folk material plus classic texts from the likes of Shakespeare and Campion.  Instrumental underpinnings are lovely and expertly crafted.  The tranquil and dreamy effect of pieces like ‘Riddle Song’ (a variant of ‘I Gave my Love a Cherry’) is nicely offset by the elfin whimsy of ‘Urchin’s Dance’.  The (rare for Rutter) dissonances of ‘Midnight’s Bell’ evoke a sense of spooky pseudo-drama.  Charming stuff!

          The succeeding folk arrangements are mostly a cappella, thought three of the Rutter settings employ chamber orchestra and two more get subtle harp support.  The list of arrangers includes Vaughan Williams, Holst, Grainger, and Willcocks.  Familiar favorites include ‘Turtle Dove’, ‘Keel Row’, ‘Black is the Color of my True Love’s Hair’, ‘Down By the Sally Gardens’, and ‘The Oak and the Ash’.

          Bringing the album to a nostalgic close are Rutter’s touching version (with instruments) of the title piece, ‘I Know where I’m Going’, plus Grainger’s famous wordless treatment of ‘Londonderry Air’.  And how better to end such a collection than with ‘Shenandoah’, in a luminous arrangement by James Erb. 

          The St Charles Singers is one of those wonderful, down-home mid-western American ensembles.  They offer solid technique and shimmering, well-balanced choral textures.  The orchestra plays splendidly.  Jeffrey Hunt leads consistently lovely, beautifully nuanced performances.  

          As with most choirs of this kind, solo passages reveal that there are few, if any, star-quality voices among them.  But that doesn’t matter.  Baritone Jeff Stoffel (who sounds more like a tenor here) delivers a tender, longing solo in Vaughan-Williams’s take on ‘The Turtle Dove’ that brought tears to my eyes, reminding me that there are singers whose musicality and emotional power can make you forget that you’re hearing an average voice.  Such uncontrived but heartfelt sentiment suffuses their ensemble work as well.

          Texts are supplied.  Sound quality is clear and nicely neutral.


I Know Where I'm Going

 Fall 2003, Artistic Quality 9 / Sound Quality 7

 There are two primary reasons to hear this disc. One is for its first-rate rendition of John Rutter's Fancies, a Britten-like cycle of six songs for choir and chamber orchestra set to early-English texts by Shakespeare, Campion, Herrick, and others. To my knowledge this is only its second recording, after Rutter's own (in 1991) with his Cambridge Singers, and it stands equally with the earlier version. Hearing these songs again after several years--and after many intervening Rutter works--it's easy to assert that Fancies is among Rutter's most successfully conceived and effectively written pieces, artfully marrying texts to vocal lines and coloring each with just the right instrumental accompaniment. It's unfortunate that the cycle is not better known, but hopefully these fine performances will help expand its audience. 

 The second reason to hear this is to acquaint yourself with one of North America's outstanding choirs. Founded 10 years ago by director Jeffrey Hunt, the 32-voice suburban-Chicago group already has an impressive performing history and deserves to be more widely represented on disc. Its program here shows the ensemble in a variety of folksong arrangements, both a cappella and accompanied, some familiar--James Erb's Shenandoah, David Willcocks' Early one morning, Percy Grainger's wordless Londonderry Air, Stuart Churchill's classic setting of Black is the color--and some more rare, including a lovely version of Flower of Beauty (She is my slender small love) by John Clements, Holst's Swansea Town, and a very lively Lamorna, arranged by Goff Richards. The singing is invariably clear and cleanly articulated, the voices bright and generally well-balanced, the overall performances benefiting from crisp rhythms and phrasing and dynamic choices that bring character and excitement to each piece. 

 For all of the charisma and top-notch musicianship these performers project, their effect is hampered by sound that's overly bright and a bit too close for ideal comfort. The soloists tend to pop out unnaturally from the ensemble and the treble grows harsh in louder, tutti passages. Balance in Londonderry Air favors the upper voices at the expense of the interior parts (where at the beginning the melody lies). While certainly noticeable, these sonic considerations should not deter choral fans, who won't have forgotten the two important reasons to own this: the repertoire and the excellent choir.

 --David Vernier

I Know Where 
I'm Going

St. Charles Singers

  Artist website:

  St. Charles Singers

St. Charles Singers

Formed in 1984 by conductor Jeffrey Hunt, the St Charles Singers have won acclaim from musicians and critics alike. John Rutter has conducted them on numerous occasions, and they have collaborated with conductor Timothy Brown of Clare College, Cambridge, James Conlon and the Chicago Symphony and Jazz great George Shearing among others.  

…”Their precision, their artistry, vitality and splendidly full-bodied sound…all these qualities and more make them a true pleasure to hear and direct…I shall always remember them as one of the best choirs I have ever made music with.”     
John Rutter on the St Charles Singers.

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​This Recording is no longer distributed by Proteus Entertainment Inc. 
Please use the Artist link below for information regarding distribution.
​This Recording is no longer distributed by Proteus Entertainment Inc. 
Please use the Artist link below for information regarding distribution.