September 25, 2014

Bath buskers fight back

Seems like the brouhaha over the buskers and Bath Abbey choir is heating up. In this article in the Guardian (with video clips) the buskers give their position with street musician Jack Morgan saying “I think the rector has a personal issue with buskers. I think he feels that the only music in the square should be the fine choir of the abbey. I think he would like us to go away. I don’t think it’s a volume issue, I think it’s a more political issue. I think we’re seen as a rabble but we have a right to free expression and free speech and that’s what we’ll fight for. We’re part of a liberal British musical culture.”

In his office the rector Rev Prebendary Edward Mason admitted he was passionate about the issue. He had been reading an Old Testament passage about leadership when he felt he had to show just that quality and say the service had to stop.

Mason said: “I’ve been working with the street musicians for a long time but I’m really anxious about this city. I feel like weeping for it really.

“We’re surrounded by noise quite a lot of the time. I feel like weeping for those who try to sort out issues in the city and how we live together. I weep for a beautiful place that is subject to this noise. I weep that we human beings just cannot resolve conflict.”

Mason said the local authority, Bath and North East Somerset council, had little power to solve the problem – but he thought the Antisocial Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act, which comes into force next month, might help.

Meanwhile Jack Morgan rejigged his normal set. “I’m going to be playing some protest songs,” he told the crowd milling around in front of Bath Abbey – and launched into a (suitably quiet) version of The Sound of Silence. Read lots more.

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September 23, 2014

Choir drowned out by buskers

Daily Express (UK):

The Evensong at Bath Abbey was stopped halfway through yesterday after singers in the square outside drowned out the choir's songs, causing the congregation to stop their service and head off home.

There has been a religious establishment on the site since 675 AD, and the current building dates from 1500.

Musical director Peter King said rogue buskers were a common problem in the area and blamed the council for a lack of action.

Writing on Twitter, he said: "Choral Evensong abandoned today because of noise from buskers. Local council continues to do nothing about this nuisance. "Local office staff work with ear plugs and can't open windows in heatwave because of buskers.

"Two boys had learnt solos and taken them home to practise and were singing them beautifully; all wasted."

Kingston Parade, the square outside the abbey is a popular spot for buskers who sing and play amplified instruments. Buskers in the city are supposed to undergo an audition to check they are good enough, and meet at 10am every day to arrange pitches and a running order.

Bath Abbey's congregation are in good company when it comes to being distracted by buskers. In May last year, drummers outside the Gielgud Theatre in London were so loud that actress Dame Helen Mirren, who was in costume as The Queen, left the theatre during the interval of The Audience to remonstrate with them.

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September 17, 2014

Inside Pentatonix, 'Pitch Perfect' and the Pop Culture Phenomenon of A Cappella Music

Hollywood Reporter:

Alongside needle-moving, genre-defying priority releases on the RCA Records slate — Sia's 1000 Forms of Fear and "Weird Al" Yankovic's Mandatory Fun among them — is the new album by Pentatonix, highlighting one of the oldest musical forms: a cappella vocals.

But before you cry "Gregorian chant," don't call it a fad: Pentatonix — an electro-infused five-piece that formed for NBC's The Sing-Off in 2011 (and won) and cut its teeth on cover songs before graduating to instrument-less videos of Lorde and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis hits, original songs and brand alignments with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Oreo — has collected more than 520 million cumulative YouTube views and boasts more subscribers than Avicii and Beyonce. So for the group's major-label debut, PTX Vol. 3, on Sept. 23, "we expect it to be a pull, not a push," says RCA president/COO Tom Corson. Industry sources predict an opening week of 50,000-plus units (the act has sold 475,000 albums and 1.5 million downloads to date, according to Nielsen SoundScan), which should be good for a top 10 debut on the Billboard 200.

Read more.

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September 15, 2014

The Sing-Off is back! Auditions announced

Great news! The Sing-Off is back for season 5 and auditions are upcoming in the following cities. No further info as yet regarding returning judges etc. but we will post news here as it becomes available.

Los Angeles, CA - September 30, 2014
3407 Winona Ave
Burbank, CA 91504

Nashville, TN - October 2, 2014
1101 Cherry Ave.
Nashville, TN 37203

New York, NY - October 4, 2014
520 W 25th St. (b/n 10th & 11th Ave)
New York, NY 10001

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September 10, 2014

An interview with Bob Gaudio

It made for a nice drive home today with an interesting interview on the radio with Bob Gaudio of the original Four Seasons by Fresh Air's Terry Gross. In addition to singing, Gaudio wrote or co-wrote most of The Four Seasons' hits, including "Sherry," "Walk Like a Man," "Big Girls Don't Cry," "Bye Bye Baby" and "Rag Doll." He also wrote the Frankie Valli solo hit "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You."

He talks a lot about harmony and their contemporaries such as The Hi-Lo's and Four Freshmen. Gaudio is very entertaining and tells some interesting stories such as their dealings with the mob. Read more.

Posted by John at 11:05 PM | Comments (0)

Justin Timberlake, Jimmy Fallon

At the big hoopla Apple media event today Tim Cook introduced an ad for the new iPhone 6 featuring Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon singing a cappella. Apple makes great products, not so sure about their ads..

Posted by John at 10:27 PM | Comments (0)

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.

Read more.

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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.

Read more.

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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