Passionate Pilgrim

“Ms. Connery’s setting of ‘Sweet Cytherea’ has a thoroughly Schubertian lilt, while Doug Balliett’s music for ‘Beauty Is’ evokes Kate Bush’s idiosyncratic sense of melody, and Mr. Cole’s ‘When My Love Sweares’ summons the atmosphere of early 20th-century French chanson. And through it all, the New Vintage Baroque players are perfect chameleons, chugging along like a rock band one moment, a jazz band the next, and a Baroque ensemble only fleetingly.

“Time was when an ensemble’s fans might wonder where the group’s explorations would take them next. Now, listeners should wonder not only where, but also when.”
— The Wall Street Journal
The counterpoint carefully shaped and articulated with precision, grace, and old world finesse. The result is a song cycle that echoes with the elegant charm of a Baroque dance suite and resonates with historical depth and drama.
— Second Inversion

Passionate Pilgrim is an artful, rock-infused song cycle with Baroque instrumentation, co-written by composer- performer collective Oracle Hysterical (Elliot Cole, Majel Connery, and Doug and Brad Balliett). The recording, out on VIA Records on March 17, 2017, is a collaboration between Oracle Hysterical and Juilliard-trained period ensemble New Vintage Baroque. Texts from the album are drawn from The Passionate Pilgrim, a poem cycle once attributed to “W. Shakespeare.” The collection was stripped of its stature when the Shakespearean parentage of all but two poems was revealed to be fake. Here this orphaned cycle enjoys new pride of place, reimagined as a mashup of tuneful chamber-pop.

Oracle Hysterical’s distinctive alchemy shines on the album. The period instruments and lush arrangements anchor influences ranging from John Blow, to the Beatles, and My Brightest Diamond.

“Still, I hope you’ll take me at my word when I offer a keen endorsement of this fascinating prospect’s results. The voices of Oracle Hysterical are sweet, fresh, and appealing, ideally suiting the poetry’s chaste ardor. New Vintage Baroque’s accompaniment is lively and lithe, without a trace of mustiness. Admirers of Joanna Newsom and Shara Nova will find plenty to savor.... One song, ‘When As Thine Eye,’ whispers especially Beatlesque in its breathy retro-pop intimacy.”

— STEVE SMITH / THE LOG JOURNAL

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Check out some reviews of the album!