August 28, 2014

Office Workers Who Sing Together Are Healthier


It’s Tuesday lunchtime at the Birmingham headquarters of Wragge Lawrence Graham, a law firm. But instead of heading out for errands or ignoring the lunch break altogether, solicitors and support staff gather – to sing. “The choir helps you get to know people at the company who you wouldn’t ordinarily meet,” explains Rob Bridgman, a young lawyer who conducts the three-year-old choir. “You meet people from other legal teams, the IT department, the business development department.”

Wragge’s London office has launched a choir of its own; the staff have opted for 8am rehearsals. “Music-making in the office gives people a chance to be themselves at work, and it doesn’t take time away from the family,” says Lorna Gavin, head of corporate responsibility.

London, long a choral capital, is setting the tone with law firms, banks, accountancy firms, tech firms, even cosmetics giant L’Oréal now featuring company-supported choirs. A number have set up Google-style music rooms, and some even offer music lessons during the workday.

“When we started 14 years ago, office music was an odd thing,” recalls Howard Charles, whose firm, City Music Services, helps corporations run choirs and provides conductors and instrumental teachers. “Today I hardly need to make a sell at all. It’s a huge shift. Companies are focusing a lot on staff engagement now, and music is relatively low-cost and brings a hugely diverse group of people together.” The Choir: Sing While You Work, a recent BBC television show in which conductor Gareth Malone helped offices launch choirs, has helped boost interest as well.

Read more.

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August 26, 2014

These Israeli and Palestinian Kids Would Rather Sing Than Fight

Mother Jones:

They come to the Jerusalem Youth Chorus from as far away as Ramallah (a Palestinian outlook in the occupied West Bank) and a moshav (a Jewish settlement) outside of Jerusalem. They speak Arabic, Hebrew, and often a bit of English. They are five tenors, eight sopranos, six altos, and seven basses. They are 13 Palestinians and 13 Israelis, all high school students. Some are friends of friends with Gilad Shaar, Naftali Frenkel, and Eyal Yifrach, the Israeli teens whose kidnapping and killing sparked the latest round of clashes; others grew up around the corner from Muhammad Khdeir, a 16-year-old Palestinian boy who was murdered in the wake of those kidnappings.

For the past two years, the chorus—the only mixed Israeli-Palestinian choral group in the Holy City—has met weekly in Jerusalem to sing at the international YMCA, one of the few places Arabs and Jews can meet comfortably. This summer, they've rehearsed several times a week—despite the rocket launches and airstrikes—in a flurry of preparations for their first international singing tour. It took them last week to Kyoto and Tokyo, where they could enjoy a break from the troubles at home.

Read more.

Such a heart-warming story. If only there were thousands more such choruses..

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August 23, 2014

How to sing for your supper on YouTube


Ten years ago, Oregon-based a cappella singer Peter Hollens was a self-described “pasta boy,” working for a catering company making fresh noodles, when he vowed never to make another penny from anything other than music. Earlier this month, he signed a deal with Sony Music Masterworks, which is scheduled to release his debut album on Portrait Records imprint on Oct. 28.

While his #1 source revenue stream is iTunes, #2 Loudr offers better rev split, as well as additional services.

In the old days, before internet piracy capsized the music industry, this would have been a major rite of passage for a musician, if not the culmination of a dream. But Hollens says, “it’s just another step.” That’s because he hadn’t been waiting around for a record company to bring him money, media exposure and stardom. He’d already done it by harnessing the YouTube ecosystem.

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August 22, 2014


Edinburgh Reporter (UK):

There are some things in life that are horrifically tricky to master, yet impressive to behold once mastered: poaching an egg, juggling, speaking foreign languages, writing a decent review… A cappella singing is right at the top of this list.

The release of teen comedy Pitch Perfect in 2012 and the continued success of US drama Glee have brought a cappella back into the spotlight and updated its image from one of tired barbershop quartets to a modern, edgy medium, one that young people are excited to be involved in. All The King’s Men are at the forefront of this revolution. Named in 2012 as the best university a cappella group in the UK, they celebrate their sixth birthday this year and are stronger than ever, counting amongst their patrons Paul Phoenix of The King’s Singers and Michelle Carlin of Sydney University

Opening with a lively mix of Prince’s “I Wanna Be Your Lover” and Clean Bandit’s “Rather Be“, from the very beginning the group showcased where their strengths lie. Whilst the treble of Ben Taylor-Davies was clear and well-controlled in their first number, it was sometimes obscured by the power of the group as a whole.

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The Edinburgh Fringe Festival has presented numerous a cappella groups in recent years and is one of the best showcases in the UK.

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August 13, 2014

Elvis A Cappella: A Tribute To The King

Now we know for sure that a cappella has made the big time. This week Graceland is presenting "Elvis A Cappella: A Tribute To The King", a sixty minute show on the main stage featuring Kentucky's Acoustikats, Florida State University's All-Night Yahtzee, The James Madison University BluesTones, The Vanderbilt Melodores, and Memphis' own Briarcrest OneVoice. More info here.

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August 11, 2014

Robin Williams a cappella

Sad news indeed today with the passing of the great Robin Williams. This clip of him performing with Bobby McFerrin and Bill Irwin in the original 1988 video for "Don't Worry Be Happy" will hopefully cheer you up!

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August 8, 2014

How Ladysmith Black Mambazo turned into ballet dancers

The Guardian (UK):

Ladysmith Black Mambazo, the veteran South African singing group, have collaborated with half the known music world – everyone from Stevie Wonder to Dolly Parton to, most famously, Paul Simon on his classic 1988 album Graceland. But this year, the choir may be performing the most extraordinary project of their 50-year career: a contemporary dance production called Inala in which they not only sing the 15 or so new songs woven into its score, but also dance alongside its cast of classical and contemporary dancers.

The seed was sown five years ago, when two young British women went to watch LBM, as they're widely known, during a UK tour. Ella Spira, a composer, had loved them since childhood. The history of oppression and suffering embodied in their lyrics, as well as the haunting harmonic textures of their music (derived from migrant Zulu workers), had always moved her. "It's that wall of sound they make," she says. "It just hits you here, in your chest."

Her friend Pietra Mello-Pittman, a dancer with the Royal Ballet, was equally overwhelmed by LBM's music, but found the production values of their performance surprisingly old-fashioned. "I suppose I've got used to the fabulous spectacle we put on at the [Royal] Opera House. But the show's visuals looked to me as though they hadn't changed in 50 years. That made me think how fantastic it would be to create some kind of ballet around the Ladysmiths and have Ella compose the score."

Read more.

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August 2, 2014

Peter Hollens Gets Major Record Deal


A cappella singer Peter Hollens has snagged a wicked record deal just days after unleashing a medley from the Wicked musical.

Sony Music announced Thursday that its classical and crossover label Sony Music Masterworks inked a deal with Hollens, who will release his debut album on Oct. 28.

"We've been in talks for a few months, but nothing was set in stone until just recently," Hollens, 32, told Mashable. "Honestly, with a 4-month-old, and a full-time job, I've had so little time to celebrate. I really need to find time to do that."

His YouTube channel has accumulated nearly 63 million views since 2011, and it features collaborations with fellow YouTubers Nick Pitera, Lindsey Stirling, Mike Tompkins, Sam Tsui, Tyler Ward, George Watsky, Alex G and even his wife, Evynne Hollens.

"His ideas are fresh and his creative imagination is fearless," Chuck Mitchell, senior vice president of Sony Music Masterworks said in a statement.

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July 30, 2014

Out of the Blue goes viral

The latest viral a cappella clip is of Oxford University's Out Of The Blue" performing Shakira's hit song "Hips Don't Lie." If you like your male a cappella singers to be shirtless then this is the video for you.

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July 26, 2014

Quiting your job the a cappella way

This guy knows how to go out in style.

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July 24, 2014

Free Vocal Guide for Singers

Our fine friends at Discmakers are offering a free guide:-

Fine Tuning Your Vocals - Looking to get the most out of your vocal performances? Disc Makers’ new guide, The Vocalist’s Guide to Recording, Rehearsing, and Performing covers the tips and techniques critical for singers in any genre of music. Includes:
• Care & Maintenance
• Warm Up / Cool Down
• Eating Potato Chips
• and much, much, much more!

Download here.

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July 22, 2014

Julian Gregory joins The King’s Singers

The King’s Singers have announced that Julian Gregory (tenor) will be joining them in September this year following the withdrawal of Benedict Hymas from the position for personal reasons.

“We were blessed with a world-class field of singers for this position and are thrilled that Julian has agreed to become a member of The King’s Singers, his voice having been on our radar for some time. He sings beautifully, and fits within the ensemble perfectly both on and off-stage. We’re all looking forward to working and touring with him very much” said Christopher Gabbitas.

Julian’s first performance with the group will be a charity concert on Thursday 25 September in Mayfield, UK, before touring across Europe and the United States.

On being appointed Julian, who had been unable to audition in April when Paul Phoenix first announced his departure, said: “The opportunity to be in The King’s Singers only comes once and, although for me this has come mid-studies at the Royal Academy of Music, I’m truly delighted to be embarking on this new adventure at this early stage of my career. The Kings Singer’s is a group that I’ve revered since I was a child – my close friends can vouch for this! – so to now be in this unique position is unbelievable. I’m very much looking forward to an exciting time ahead.”

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July 17, 2014

Celebrating rhubarb

A shout out to the Rhubarb Sisters who will be performing at the upcoming Rhubarb Festival in Lanesboro, MN. They have sung Garrison Keillor's 'Bebop-a-rebop Rhubarb Pie' on his Minnesota Public Radio show and have been singing together for over a decade. Although not easy to find here in California we very much love a homemade rhubarb pie!

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