“It's been over four years since I recorded my last studio project,” stated Phelps, “…a lot of things have happened for me during that time--Gaither Vocal Band recordings and videos, a solo Christmas video and the “best of” project. One of the most positive areas of growth has been the energy that has grown behind my performance of ‘Nessun Dorma.’ I never expected it to get such a broad response, but that reaction has definitely played into the current direction for Classic.
“Bill [Gaither] came up to me about a year and a half ago and asked to be involved in a new solo recording,” Phelps continues. “I had never had the opportunity to work with Bill on anything solo-related, so I was very interested. The song selection process took over a year, and the actual recording process lasted close to seven months. He and I work very well together, but his perspective is different from mine. It was a great experience to see how his mind works in this process, and it was a great confidence builder for me for him to put so much trust in me.”
The new release, arranged and orchestrated by David Phelps, David Davidson and Jason Webb, features full orchestra. Song selections include an invigorating and unpredictable arrangement of “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee,” penned lyrically by Henry J. van Dyke and set to Ludwig van Beethoven’s Hymn to Joy; an upbeat, trumpet-driven rendition of the popular hymn “Morning Has Broken,” first published in 1931; Phelps’ own arrangement of “The Lord’s Prayer” and a riveting performance of the Rodgers and Hammerstein show tune “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” introduced in the 1945 musical Carousel.
Classic showcases Phelps’ classical vocal training and performance history on selections including the poignant “Donna Non Vidi Mai (1893), a song from Act I of the Italian opera Manon Lescaut by Giacomo Puccini as well as “Bring Him Home,” from the popular stage musical Les Miserables. Phelps gives an emotional performance of “O Mio Babbino Caro” (Oh My Beloved Father), an aria from the Italian opera Gianni Schicci (1918) by Giacomo Puccini. In addition, the release features Cesar Franck's hymn, “Panis Angelicus,” with a lyric written by Saint Thomas Aquinas.
While many composers ranging from Franz Schubert and Mozart to Johann Sebastian Bach have created musical arrangements of “Agnus Dei,” the Latin "Lamb of God" doctrine, Phelps puts his own pen to paper with an original creation -- a reverent and inspiring composition on which he is joined by his 14-year-old daughter, Maggie Beth. He gives a dramatic performance of a new epic ballad he penned called “The Dream,” complete with haunting melody and stirring lyrics, and combines “America the Beautiful” and “God Bless America” for a moving patriotic tribute.
A full house at Franklin, Tennessee’s newly renovated, state-of-the-art Franklin Theater was on its feet throughout the evening recently as Phelps performed the new release in addition to several of his most popular songs. Complete with orchestra, choir, a band and a guest appearance by the Gaither Vocal Band, Phelps’ powerhouse techniques varied from earnest interpretations and effortless strains to swelling arias, emitting the unfathomable control of a seasoned trained performer.
The intimate concert, to be released on DVD, included a lighthearted yet passionate rendering of the standard “What a Wonderful World” that found Phelps seated next to the grand piano played by Jack Daniels. Phelps took his own turn on the keys for “Moonlight,” a take on Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” with lyrics that he penned as a prayer, and also performed “Ave Maria” a cappella. Also captured on the new DVD is his unique interpretation of “O Come Angel Band” and his noted performance of Giacomo Puccini’s “Nessun Dorma,” a song that brings audiences to their feet regularly during performances.
“This project has probably taken the most work of any recording I've done to date,” says Phelps with a relaxed smile of relief. “It's been great to be involved in every step of it, from producing to arranging to orchestrating. I hope it moves listeners. I hope they love the music and hear the songs with fresh ears. I hope people really listen to the lyrics and find hope to get through the hard days that life can bring.”
“Gaither Music Group has had the privilege of working with some of the most talented artists in the world,” stated Barry Jennings, the label's president. “Among the most incredible voices we have ever heard is the classically trained tenor David Phelps. David has wowed audiences around the world with the Gaither Vocal Band and now has recorded a new album that celebrates the influences that have made him the esteemed artist that he has become. We are excited to partner with David in presenting this incredible project.”
The Gaither Vocal Band’s appearance on the new DVD included a contagious rendition of the traditional “Swing Down Chariot,” the epic “Glorious Impossible” and the reverent “All in All.”
Classic will be distributed on CD and DVD through EMI CMG Distribution and will be available through digital stores and at retail stores everywhere. See below for a preview of this wonderful new recording! News source: Gaither Music Group
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