Excerpts from reviews of de Profundis concerts

    Albuquerque Journal Venue
    December 2, 2011
    By D. S. Crafts

    The first of the seasonal concerts came last weekend from Albuquerque’s a cappella men’s choir de Profundis under the direction of David Poole. The group has performed on Thanksgiving weekend for the past several years, but this year’s program, titled “The Promise of Ages,” was a bit more ambitious than usual, bringing in a sextet of instrumentalists who joined the singers in several pieces, allowing for an expanded repertoire (particularly Baroque) as well as greater sound color. The first half began with the group divided in three along the front and sides of the reverberant Immanuel Presbyterian Church for the spirited “Hodie Christus Natus Est,” one of several beloved settings of this text. Dutch Baroque composer Jan Pieters Sweelinck’s version makes a zealous use of repetition of the opening word. A beautifully hushed and somber piece from the Russian Orthodox liturgy, Golovanov’s “Cherubic Hymn,” produced some of the most effective singing all afternoon. “Be We Merry” by Stephen Sametz of the Princeton Singers harkens back to the spirit of the English medieval tradition. The highlight of the afternoon came in the form of the buoyant cantata “Aperite Mihi Portas Justitiae” (Open to me, gates of justice) of Dieterich Buxtehude, bringing in the band of two violins, cello and harpsichord. Buxtehude’s music and organ playing was greatly admired by Bach, who studied with the older master. (There is a famous recording of this piece led by the great Danish tenor Askel Schiøtz of yesteryear.) “Dulce Esposo de Maria” (Sweet husband of Mary), an anonymous work from the California missions of the 18th century, featured the guitar accompaniment of Jeff Jolly. The second half of the program was devoted to popular carols and songs from various countries and various traditions. The lovely Spanish cradle carol “A la Nanita Nana” was gently ornamented by the two violins (Linda Vik and Carol Benson) in an atmosphere of peace and tranquility.

    Albuquerque Journal Online
    November 29, 2005
    By D. S. Crafts

    The Christmas season has officially begun, and the first out of the gate with its holiday concert is Albuquerque's a cappella men's ensemble de Profundis. Titled "Awed by the Beauty," the program draws from traditions ranging far and wide, beginning with a Quechuan (Peruvian native) language text and finishing off with a set of traditional carols and spirituals. Led by David Poole, the 14-voice choir takes a group of strong individual voices and combines them into a sonorous blend, equally matched from top to bottom. In Sunday's concert, the group gave energetic and elegant demonstration of whispery pianissimos up to full-voiced outbursts, harmoniously filling the cathedral ceiling of the St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church.

    Albuquerque Journal
    April 2005
    By D. S. Crafts

    The genre known as "song without words" occupies a small but rich place in classical literature. But as a recital on Sunday afternoon by the de Profundis men's choir aptly demonstrated, the form is by no means limited to classical music nor to any particular place in the world.
    The first half of the programtitle "Mouth Music" exhibite a rich variety of choral works sung to syllables with no specific meaning.
    Beginning with two Georgian (Russian) folk melodies, the group immediately established its rich blend of voices, solidly represented from top to bottom.
    There also were composed works exploiting the lack of a specific text, most impressively a work from Finland with the intriguing title "Pseudo-Yoik" written by Jaako Mantjarvi. A rousing, boisterous piece sung with particular gusto and rhythmic precision, it has been described by the composer "as an impression of a stereotype that most Finns associate with Lapland and its people."
    de Profundis was joined by the 2005 High School FOR MEN ONLY ensemble for a set of American and English folk songs.

    Albuquerque Journal
    December 2002
    By Joanne Sheehy Hoover

    Sunday afternoon at St. Michael and All Angels Church the dozen male voices of de Profundis set the air ringing with selections related to Hanukkah and Christmas. Their director, David Poole, has a flair for programming, and the colorful holiday mix was one of his best efforts.
    With the brief, joyful call of a trumpet as an opener, the singers traveled among various traditions, including western and eastern Christianity and that of the Ashkenazim, or European, Jewry. They moved about the centuries and glided around the globe as well, speaking in a variety of languages, from Middle English to archaic Spanish to Latin and Latvian and Chinese.
    The program also offered various moods, sometimes playful, sometimes deeply spiritual, with many points in between. It shifted musical gears frequently in a spectrum of styles that ranged from the simplicity of pure unison chants to the richness of late Romantic harmonies.
    Immediately clear and repeatedly affirmed was the distance de Profundis has traveled under founder/director Poole, who has worked steadily to refine sound and balance. This afternoon's program found the group projecting as an expressive whole that was richer than the sum of its parts. Reaping the rewards of Poole's vision and their own work, the ensemble's singing displayed a new ease and assurance.

    Albuquerque Journal
    December 2001
    By Joanne Sheehy Hoover

    The performance, which opened de Profundis's eighth season, pointed up the group's continuing evolution toward ever more refined and defined singing under the skilled leadership of its director and founder, David Poole. Most striking on this afternoon was the newly gained technical confidence of the singers. A self-conscious focus on the how, a necessary stage if a group aims for excellence, is clearly giving way to another, freer level of expression. Not that any musician, particularly a singer, whose instrument is his body, can ever neglect technique, but there was an ease on this afternoon born of more technical assurance as ensemble.
    The ease was immediately evident in the purity of sound and unity of diction in an opening set of plainsongs, or chants, for the first Sunday of Advent. This seemingly simple unison singing challenges because it is so exposed and, to be effective, needs to come across as an even, natural flow. Disciplined, supple, the men let the phrases unfold like a spontaneous expression of the heart.

    Albuquerque Journal 
    December 2000
    By Joanne Sheehy Hoover

    Comfortable with each other and confident of their sound, the a cappella men's group de Profundis delivered a satisfying program Sunday afternoon to a large audience at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church.
    Now 7 years old, the group has steadily grown under its director and founder, David Poole. From the first Poole's ideas about the group seemed clear. He sought refinement of sound in a tasteful repertoire with a strong spiritual undercurrent.
    Sunday's concert revealed just how far de Profundis has traveled. In the first years Poole held the reins tightly, working to polish the sound, to develop smoothness and unity in projection. The singers were conscious of technique, carefully trying to produce what Poole wanted. Programs were interesting in repertoire choice and pleasing, even if somewhat restrained.
    In this concert, title "Mourning into Dancing," the ensemble stepped up to a different level. They found another dimension where time seemed to open up. More relaxed, they sang with a new freedom. Though still conscious of technique as singers must be, it was no longer the major focus. They have settled in as an ensemble and can now pay more attention to the expressive side.
    The first half (of the concert) was devoted to the mournful side. The second half turned to the more vital, dancing side, leading off with de Profundis's first commission, a stunning arrangement of "Come, Everyone that Thirsteth." It was created by former UNM professor Scott Wilkinson, who was on hand to acknowledge the enthusiastic applause for his effort.

    Arts Alive! And Well 
    December 2000
    By John Seagrave

    The distinguished 12-singer male chorus directed by David Poole presented their winter concert at the Santa Fe Santuario and also introduced their first CD. The latter is a splendid achievement, featuring familiar works as Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal, Shenandoh, Skye Boat Song, Du Liegst Mir in Herz, and Loch Lomond in attractive settings, as well as 13 other fine pieces.
    The present concert, titled "Mourning into Dancing," offered 18 numbers, the first half quite somber, and the second half relatively joyful.
    Mr. Poole is to be congratulated for finding and developing this material, and for training this superb group.

    Albuquerque Journal 
    November 1999
    By Joanne Sheehy Hoover

    Sunday afternoon's concert by de Profundis at St. Michael and All Angels church in Albuquerque revealed another level of refinement in this group's music making. Now in its sixth season, the all-male group of 12 singers directed by David Poole dipped deep into the meditative side with a program of sacred music drawn from western Christian and Russian Orthodox sources.
    "Singing the Divine," as this concert was called, involved some extremely exposed singing, especially in the simple, single lines of plainsong, or Gregorian chant. The opening "Psalm of Invitation" by the 16th century Cistercian monk Jacob Handl immediately gave evidence of the more resonant sound, the more controlled tone and more subtle attack of the singers.
    Apparent, too, were the selfless commitment and complete conviction of the group's members as they sought to convey the spirituality of the music. From a strictly vocal point of view their task was not easy. They were often singing in the lower end of the dynamic scale, which requires far more control than high volume delivery, and the restrained purity of the music left few places to hide.
    Surely guided by Poole's refined musical sensibility and supple rhythmic sense, the ensemble delivered an intimate and dedicated performance.

    Albuquerque Journal 
    March 1998
    By Joanne Sheehy Hoover

    Something wonderful is happening with de Profundis. Sunday's concert at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church made clear that this 13-voice a cappella men's group is steadily and surely realizing its dream.
    From the first notes of the opening "Back to Ethiopia," the group sang with a distinctive sound. This poignant song of homesickness -- "Africa is our father's home, oh, yes" -- was rendered in rich, resonant tones with finely shaded phrasing and pointed diction.
    As the program went on the ingredients of David Poole's direction came clearly into focus. Under his guidance the de Profundis singers are becoming a finely tuned instrument. He knows how to make the most of these voices, which range in quality from capable to quite good. In his hands their hum becomes far greater than their individual parts.
    Their sound, like their stance, is open and free. It is used by Poole with restraint and refinement to shape expressive, flexible lines. 
    He possesses a subtle sensibility which reaches for depth of expression rather than vocal display. He also seems able to generate a confidence that encourages the men to open up emotionally.

    Arts Alive! and Well 
    Santa Fe Cable 
    By Norma Lynn

    At Loretto Chapel on November 16th (1997), de Profundis ("Out of the Depths"), an Albuquerque a cappella men's chorus of 12 members sang most impressively, in appealing repertoire and an interesting and thoughtful program. 
    There was much beauty, with lush warmth and fine control. The blend was exemplary at all times, as were the dynamics. At no time was there any pushed or forced, extraneous tone. 
    The group, under expert direction of David Poole, is only a few years old. Their taste and professionalism is impeccable. Their tone quality is uncannily exquisite, very special for a men's group. Their refinement was unearthly, as was their intonation. The angels were definitely on hand. This absolutely first-rate ensemble is giving other leading New Mexico choruses some stiff competition.

    Albuquerque Journal 
    November 1996 
    By Joanne Sheehy Hoover

    Albuquerque is blessed with a large community of musicians. Miraculously, its numbers grow, despite the economic hazards and a public often more interested in balloons than Bach or Brahms. 
    DeProfundis, a group of 12 men singing without accompaniment, joined the scene in 1994. Friday night at St. Mark's on the Mesa Episcopal Church, this fledgling showed that it has grown some finely colored feathers.
    In our times, the male voice too often is connected with raw authority, aggression or violence. To hear it used with gentle finesse sets off deep resonances in the listener. We are called back to images of the male as a source of strength and comfort and protection.
    Director David Poole chose a program rich in spiritual content. Titled Psalms, Prayers and Prophecies, it ranged the centuries, from the Renaissance to the present. In its purity and consistent quality, it reflected Poole's highly refined musical ambitions.
    Poole certainly made every effort to introduce variety in content and color. He opened the program with a surprise. Expecting an unaccompanied group on the floor before them, the audience found the singers in the choir loft, accompanied by surging runs on the organ. ...The choirsters then made their way down from the loft to the front of the church. ...Hearing the men's voices slowly unfolding and expanding, the listener became acutely aware of the thrilling distinctiveness of the all-male sound.
    (DeProfundis') sound, as created by Poole and his talented singers, is marked by subtlety and elegance. At its best, it possesses a radiant spirituality and a virile purity that touch the listener deep within.
    Diction is crystal-clear, the ensemble precise and the sound finely balanced.... The group has a strong pitch sense.