March 7, 2014
2014 Harmony Sweepstakes A Capppela Festival begins
It’s is the 30 anniversary of the Harmony Sweepstakes and we have plenty of reasons to celebrate!
We have had a record amount of group entries this year and the talent is better than ever. We have singing lawyers, priests, scientists and plenty of professional performers. We have groups from Camaroon, Georgia Republic, Namibia and from across the US.
There are groups of every musical genre imaginable and the full breadth of vocal harmony is amply displayed.
The first two shows of the season, San Francisco and Mid Atlantic, are already sold out and our other events are expected to have full houses as well.
Tickets for the 30th annual National Finals go on sale this coming Monday March 10th. Held at the iconic Marin Center (designed by Frank Lloyd Wright) in San Rafael, California - a 20 minute drive over the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. If you want to hear the “best of the best” then how about planning a nice vacation here in beautiful Northern California? Hear top notch a cappella and see giant redwoods, San Francisco and the Wine Country all in the same day!
San Francisco - March 8
Mid-Atlantic - March 8
Pacific NW - March 15
New York - March 22
Chicago - March 29
Los Angeles - April 5
Boston - April 13
National Finals - May 17
More info on the web site:-
February 25, 2014
Oldest a cappella singer ever dies
New York Times:
Maria Franziska von Trapp, the last surviving sibling of seven brothers and sisters who were portrayed in the Broadway musical and the film “The Sound of Music,” died on Tuesday at her home in Stowe, Vt. She was 99. Her death was confirmed by her half-brother, Johannes von Trapp.
She was the third oldest child of seven born to Baron Georg von Trapp and his first wife, Agathe, who died of scarlet fever. The 1965 film was based on the real story of how the baron fell in love with the children’s governess, also named Maria, and the family toured together as a choir.
Maria Franziska von Trapp was born on Sept. 28, 1914 in Zell am See, Austria. In addition to touring with the family choir, she worked as a lay missionary in Papua New Guinea. She adopted a son, Kikuli Mwanukuzi, after meeting him there. She eventually moved back to Vermont to be close to family. She is survived by her son and three half-siblings: Mr. von Trapp, Rosmarie Trapp and Eleonore von Trapp Campbell.
The Von Trapp family usually sang a cappella and the recording of theirs we carry are all unaccompanied.
February 19, 2014
A cappella on the Tonight Show
Jimmy Fallon has a star-studded line up for this first week of his hosting the Tonight Show but it's good to know he still found room for his barbershop quartet the Ragtime Gals. On Tuesday they performed the R. Kelly classic "Ignition".
February 3, 2014
Singing 'grandmas' to perform at Sochi Olympics
A group of singing Russian babushki — or grandmothers — who perform Beatles hits and cultural songs will be one of the headline acts at the Sochi 2014 Cultural Olympiad.
The band of eight women called Buranovskiye Babushki gained a worldwide following when they finished second in the 2012 Eurovision song contest in Baku, Azerbaijan. The women are aged 45 to 78, but most are in their 70s.
Although the group’s name means grannies, some are mothers, some are grandmothers and some are great-grandmothers.
Dressed in traditional red outfits, silver jewellery and headscarves, the all-singing, all-dancing babushki perform most of their songs in the Udmurt language of the region, with some sections in English. They started performing to raise money to refurbish a church in their village.
February 1, 2014
Conspiracy of Beards band together
Marin Independent Journal (CA):
Before he died of AIDS in 2001, multimedia artist Peter Kadyk had a dream about a choir of men singing Leonard Cohen songs a cappella. He wrote in his journal that they should be called the Conspiracy of Beards.
Fourteen years later, his dream will be onstage at the 142 Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley on Feb. 7 in the form of a 30-voice male choir devoted to the celebrated singer-songwriter-poet's music. They are believed to be the only choir on the planet that performs Cohen's songs exclusively.
Kadyk, who was 32 when he died, never got to hear the choir himself. But, at the behest of his wife, Anah, a group of 11 of his friends got together and sang a few Cohen songs as a tribute to him at an event in 2003.
That was meant to be a one-off performance, but it led to an invitation to sing at famed City Lights Bookstore in North Beach.
"And it snowballed from there," said 38-year-old Clay Eugene Smith, who joined the choir three years ago and now serves as its publicist.
Four of the original members are still in the choir, including 61-year-old Peter Whitehead, one of a handful of professional musicians in the group. He became a fan of Cohen's when he was 18, and his admiration for the now 79-year-old icon has never flagged.
"I think his words are incredible," he said. "I've always been fascinated by the mood of his songs, and he's one of the few songwriters of his generation who've really lasted, writing material that's timeless."
Over the past 11 years, something like 100 men have passed through the choir, not all of them bearded. Members range in age from their 20s to their 60s. The majority are amateurs with day jobs and varying degrees of musical experience. Read more.
January 31, 2014
Reason to Smile: Roomful of Teeth Wins Grammy
Roomful of Teeth has been wowing North County audiences for years with its popular annual residencies at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. Now, the whole world knows what the buzz is about.
On Sunday in Los Angeles, Roomful of Teeth, which was founded in 2009 by Williams College artist-in-residence Brad Wells, won a Grammy.
The a capella group blends non-classical vocal traditions from around the world. The New York Times described its eponymous debut album in 2012 as "sensually stunning."
The octet, which brings together artists scattered around the country, was nominated for three Grammys. It won for Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance.
Congratulations to the ensemble. The linked article includes an interview with founder Brad Wells.
January 27, 2014
Pentatonix sells out
Did this really have to be? Pentatonix does a commercial for a sugary cereal that I wouldn't feed my kids in a million years. #shameful
Lucky Charms ingredients - (Oats, (Whole Grain Oats, Flour), Marshmallows (Sugar, Modified Corn Starch, Corn Syrup, Dextrose, Gelatin, Calcium Carbonate, Yellow 5 & 6, Blue 1, Red 40), Artificial Flavor, Sugar, Corn Syrup, Corn Starch, Salt, Calcium Carbonate, Artificial Color, Trisodium Phosphate, Zinc And Iron (Mineral Nutrients), Vitamin C (Sodium Ascorbic), A "B" Vitamin (Niacinamide), Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B1, Thiamin Mononitrate), Vitamin A, (Palmitate), A B Vitamin (Folic Acid) Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Vitamin E (Mixed Tocopherols) Added To Preserve Freshness.)
Elizabeth Banks to Direct 'Pitch Perfect 2'
Elizabeth Banks will make her feature directorial debut with Pitch Perfect 2, the sequel to Universal and Gold Circle’s hit 2012 musical comedy.
Banks, who also co-starred in and produced the original, is returning in the same capacity to the sequel. Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson, who also starred in the original, are likely to return, according to insiders.
"Elizabeth originated the idea for Pitch Perfect and was instrumental in making the first film such a huge success,” said Universal Pictures chairman Donna Langley. “She brings an enormous amount of energy and experience to everything she works on and we’re thrilled that she is making her feature directorial debut on Pitch Perfect 2.”
January 25, 2014
A cappella Grammy nominations
The Grammys are this Sunday and as usual a cappella music is well represented. The experimental and immensely interesting vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth leads the way with three nominations:- Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance, Best Classical Engineered Album, and Best Contemporary Classical Composition for group member Caroline Shaw's "Partita For 8 Voices." New York Polyphony is nominated for "Times Go By Turns" in Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance. The Sixteen is nominated in Best Choral Performance for "Palestrina: Volume 3" and Ladysmith Black Mambazo is nominated in Best World Album for "Live: Singing For Peace Around The World".
January 23, 2014
Joseph Shabalala has retired
The founder of South African group Ladysmith Black Mambazo is to take a back seat at the age of 73, their manager has announced. Joseph Shabalala, who performed at a memorial concert for Nelson Mandela last month, will "enjoy the fruits of his hard work".
He will not take part in the choral groups's forthcoming three-month tour.
The group shot to fame when they recorded the Graceland album with Paul Simon in 1986. They have won three Grammys and are nominated for a fourth at Sunday's ceremony in the US, for their album Singing For Peace Around the World. Shabalala will stay at home in South Africa.
Ladysmith's manager Xolani Majozi said: "Because of his age we want him to relax a bit, not to be involved in intensive tours. "He can still perform, but we don't want to overwork him. We think he has done his part," he added.
A number of Shabalala's sons continue to perform in the 12-strong group, along with one of his grandsons.
His birth name is Bhekizizwe Joseph Siphatimandla Mxoveni Mshengu Bigboy Shabalala.