By JOSEPH DALTON, Special to the Times Union First published: Sunday, January 6, 2008

The River of Love" is a CD of 30 original Shaker songs, spirituals and hymns in lively and straight ahead performances by the unaccompanied ensemble New England Voices. Interspersed amid the historic material are a handful of newish compositions based on Shaker tunes by Aaron Copland, William Cutter and Jacob Druckman.

Especially inviting and inventive is "The Humble Heart," an 18-minute piece by Eric Sawyer, a faculty member at Amherst College. Althought it's a dramatic and emotional journey scored for adult and children's choruses, vocal soloist, strings and piano, the piece never loses touch with the spacious simplicity of the Shaker aesthetic.

Albany Records has recorded the CD and it is available from Amazon .

New England Voices Choir (photo by Gail Hall)
(Left to right: Musicologist & Singer Roger Hall; New England Voices Director & Singer Nancy McDowell; Composer Eric Sawyer/ photo by Gail Hall)