Spiritual America is my album of eight electro-acoustic orchestral art songs by William Brittelle exploring issues of secular spirituality in American culture. The project premiered in full at Symphony Space in New York City as part of the Infinite Palette residency on Friday, February 16th, 2018. Spiritual America's west coast premiere was August 5th at the Hollywood Bowl - an opening slot for Bon Iver and TU Dance. It was released on May 3rd and is the second album in a multi-year partnership between Nonesuch Records and New Amsterdam.
Spiritual America serves as a vessel through which I attempt to reconcile my youth in a conservative Christian North Carolina household with my adult life as an “agnostic Buddhist” living in Brooklyn. The project began seven years ago when I endured a family crisis and instinctively found myself praying to God. Its narrative centers around an imagined alternate past in which I remained under the dome of my youth pursuing a relationship with a damaged former crush.
For this journey, I invited collaborators I deeply admired and knew would meet the demands of this ambitious music: Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack, Metropolis Ensemble, and Brooklyn Youth Chorus, with mixing by Zach Hanson (Bon Iver’s 22, A Million, S. Carey, The Staves) at April Base, the famed Wisconsin studio founded by Justin Vernon. The album was tracked in Durham, Los Angeles, and New York City.
Spiritual America was created in collaboration with Metropolis Ensemble, the Alabama Symphony, Symphony Space, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra’s Liquid Music Series/Walker Art Center, the Palm Springs Art Museum, and the Baltimore Symphony. The project premiered in 2018 at New York City’s Symphony Space (performed by Wye Oak, Brooklyn Youth Chorus and Metropolis Ensemble), and opening for Bon Iver and TU Dance at The Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles (performed by Metropolis Ensemble).
The live show includes an opening set of material from Wye Oak recomposed for orchestra, including new material created specifically for this project. An alternate chamber version of the project (including the opening set) is also available for touring. A companion A/V installation series can be paired with the presentation.
The Forbidden Colors video installation posted above was filmed on location in the Imperial Valley in Southeastern California. Credits via the youtube link.