Cello is the perfect instrument to showcase through this fascinating set of variations on a theme of universal unity. The cello's range and tone evoke the baritone voice, and its facility in contrapuntal playing allows for polyphony in the manner of Bach's cello suites. The theme (sounding like a spiritual) is actually the final chorus of the composer's "Earthrise," a profoundly bold cantata using Schiller's "Ode to Joy" as text, and full of allusions to all four movements of Beethoven's ninth symphony. Hailstork's "Earthrise" features a festival chorus singing in German, alternating with an African-American chorus singing in English with vernacular verve. The choruses ultimately unite to end the cantata together with "Draw the Sacred Circle Closer," a translation of lines from Schiller's "Ode to Joy." For advanced cellists.