Summer Sonnet

How many times do you think Shakespeare’s “Shall I compare thee…” sonnet has been set to music? At least three times on this disc of choral songs alone, but perhaps never as memorably, I would argue, as Kevin Olson has done here. Olson’s version was composed in response to Chicago a cappella‘s 2002 call for scores for a planned all-Shakespeare concert. A lot of twists have been put on the great Bard’s courtly language, but this bossa-nova setting is hilariously fantastic, played out with all the necessary backing-band finesse while leaving plenty of room for the bold tenor soloist to woo his fair maid. When you think about it, so much ardor is well suited to a Latin beat. Wonder what took so long?