October 3, 2015

Home Free on the move

Chicago Tribune:

Before Home Free won NBC's "The Sing Off" in 2013, the a cappella group was releasing albums on its own and trying to win over season ticket-holders and other strangers to their revamped tunes as they toured theaters, fairs and colleges beyond their Minnesota home base.

"Nowadays people are showing up to see us and there's a palpable energy and excitement in the air before we take the stage," Tim Foust, who provides the lowest notes as the group's bass voice, said by phone from the tour bus a day before their New York City debut. "We all just have a good time from the minute the show starts."

Known for rearranging country and pop classics, from Johnny Cash and Alabama to 'N Sync and One Direction, Home Free is on its third national tour, which arrives Wednesday at the Rialto Square Theatre in Joliet, and follows it with a holiday tour and its first European date, the London A Cappella Festival in January, with their VIP packages already sold out.

"Our YouTube presence is the main driver at this point," Foust said.

It also doesn't hurt that the guys aren't too shabby looking.

"The bulk of our demographic is women ages 30 to 50," said Foust, 34, whose voice had maternal nurturing early on.

"My mom said I was singing and humming along with her before I was even able to form words as a baby. She would sing to me and I would match pitch," Foust said. "My mom really liked those vocal groups from the '50s and '60s … the Beach Boys, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons … and my grandma played me a lot of southern gospel as well. That was definitely a big influence. I was lucky that music was in my household."

Read more.

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September 30, 2015

A celestial lunar season opener

San Francisco Chronicle:

The transformative powers of the moon were on full display at Mission Santa Clara on Saturday night, when the men’s chorus Chanticleer opened its season with an ingeniously programmed and beautifully sung evening of music old and new. From the pull of the tides and the intoxicating force of moonstruck love to the magic of the full moon, this was a program full of mystery and enchantment.

Yet the most remarkable sorcery on offer was in the group’s singing itself, which sounded more polished and finely blended than I’ve heard it in years. The sonorities of the 12-man ensemble reconfigure themselves subtly season by season, as new members join up and old members move on. Like the sea itself, these shifts produce a vocal landscape that is at once unbreaking and ever variable.

The current lineup, though, has clearly reached some new pitch of excellence. Maybe it’s the arrival of William Fred Scott, who recently joined Chanticleer as music director. Maybe it’s the inevitable outcome of changes in the particular vocal qualities of the membership.

Whatever the cause, Saturday’s concert was nothing short of thrilling, from an opening set that interspersed music by Monteverdi with those of English composers, to a final run of pop songs and spirituals. The choral textures were impeccably focused and clear, with a strain of translucency that seemed to speak directly to the evening’s lunar theme.

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September 22, 2015

Gareth Malone's Naked Choir to keep clothes on


Gareth Malone, the presenter of the BAFTA-award-winning TV series The Choir, is launching a new show on the BBC called The Naked Choir which will feature a cappella groups only. Here is an interview with him about the new show.

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September 19, 2015

Home Free releases new CD


Fans of a cappella group Home Free will be happy that one of their most popular performance songs, a cover of The Eagles’ “Seven Bridges Road,” has finally made it onto an album. The group's third album, entitled Country Evolution, is out Friday, Sept. 18, and the song is featured on the record.

“It’s one of the most requested songs we’ve had for about eight years,” member Rob Lundquist tells Billboard. “We had sent out a poll to our Facebook followers, and that was the second most-requested song behind ‘Elvira,’ which is also on the album. It’s one of our favorite tunes, and we filmed the video all over Minneapolis at different locations. It was a blast to film.”

Read more and watch exclusive video interview.

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September 17, 2015

Sir David Willcocks, choirmaster - obituary

Sir David Willcocks, who has died aged 95, was the most influential choirmaster of his generation, spending 17 years as director of music at King’s College, Cambridge, and 38 years in charge of the Bach Choir. He was a man of immense courage in both musical and military fields, earning an immediate MC during his war service in Normandy.

Throughout his long career Willcocks was at the centre of British choral music, moulding voices and raising standards. He injected it with a sense of purpose and redefined its sound while building up a strong base of support through his connections with choral societies across the country. Every note he conducted had to be articulated with precision and every phrase expressed with clarity; the result was an intense beauty of sound. Everything was meticulously rehearsed, including a choir’s entrance and exit from the stage.

For many listeners the pure, vibrato-free sound of the choirboy’s voice cannot be bettered: it is smooth, perfectly in tune, and unconcerned with the cares of the adult world. Nowhere is this more exemplified than in the annual Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King’s, with which Willcocks was indelibly connected thanks to his descants to carols such as O Come, All Ye Faithful and Hark, the Herald Angels Sing. The service is broadcast throughout the world annually on Christmas Eve.

Read more.

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September 14, 2015

Want to be in Pitch Perfect 3? Here's how

In a stunt to promote Pitch Perfect 2 on DVD and Blu-Ray, the movie is launching a Dubsmash contest called "Pitch Smash".

Participants must compete via Dubsmash where they’ll find a “Pitch Perfect 2” gallery. They then go to their favorite soundbite and submit 10-second videos of their best “Pitch Perfect 2” spoken line or song and upload the videos to Vine, Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #PitchSmash.

Pitch Perfect 3 is scheduled for summer 2017 but submissions are due September 17. The winner, announced on Good Morning America on September 22, will get a walk-on role in the movie.

Posted by John at 11:51 PM | Comments (0)

September 10, 2015

Shenanigans at Yale's a cappella scene

It appears they take their a cappella rivalries seriously at Yale as there has been a big brouhaha there this past few days. A cappella group Society of Orpheus and Bacchus (SOBS) have been banned from the Rush process by the Dean's Office and will not be allowed to recruit members for a year after some dimwit decided it would be funny to leave a severed deer head at the Spizzwinks auditions. With a touch of the Godfather movies it seems there is bad blood between the groups and this was in retaliation for a previous prank. Read about it at the Yale Daily News.

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September 4, 2015

Can’t Sleep Love – Pentatonix

Here's the new single "Can't Sleep Love" from the upcoming Pentatonix album release. Well they have certainly embraced the show business as I remember them way back when they were kinda dorky looking and not particularly hip. They are the hep cats now and certainly looking (and of course sounding) great.

Posted by John at 10:21 PM | Comments (0)

September 1, 2015

Pentatonix to release new studio album on RCA

Pentatonix have left their Sony label Madison Gate and are now signed with RCA Records and will release a new studio album on the label on October 16th. The self-titled album features original songs with the first single, “Can’t Sleep Love” being released September 4th. The group's last album "That’s Christmas To Me" sold more than 1.2 million copies in the U. S., making the group one of only four acts to reach platinum status in 2014.

Posted by John at 10:00 PM | Comments (0)

August 25, 2015

A Reluctant Teenager, a Barbershop Quartet, and a Revelation

New York Times:

The memory is hazy, but I can’t imagine that I went enthusiastically into a concert hall in Portland, Maine, on May 18, 1974. The groups on the bill were not the kind that most 19-year-olds were flocking to see. Yet my mind was blown just as thoroughly as if I’d seen Kiss or Queen. It was blown by a barbershop quartet named the Gentlemen’s Agreement.

I was in my first year of college at the University of Maine at Portland-Gorham, still living with my parents. I realize that a lot about that sentence says “loser,” but I was at least making an effort to be cool. My record collection had three Frank Zappa albums in it.

Why my father secured tickets to a barbershop concert is unclear. My mother, now 94, thinks that perhaps my Uncle Larry, a barbershopper in his college days, was visiting. Also unclear is why I agreed to go along on an old-fogey outing.

It was, I believe, a concert put on by the local chapter of the preposterously named Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America, which these days is generally called the Barbershop Harmony Society. As I remember it, the show included a number of groups, all building up to the headliners, the Gentlemen’s Agreement. When those four men started to sing, an unremarkable evening turned into a revelation. I don’t remember what they sang, but I remember being astonished by the seamlessness of it, the intricacy of the harmony, their ability to invest the songs with personality, no guitar or drum kit in sight. I had expected stodgy and instead got stunning.

Read more.

This is a great article and a ringing endorement of all we like about a cappella harmony. A highly recommended read.

Posted by John at 12:44 AM | Comments (0)

August 22, 2015

Home Free cover Oak Ridge Boys, and it rules

Entertainment Weekly:

Maybe you think you don’t need to watch a cappella quintet Home Free cover the Oak Ridge Boys’ 1981 ditty “Elvira,” but that’s where you’d be wrong. The legendary gospel and country group join the season 4 Sing Off winners and it’s warm, fuzzy, borderline corny, and accented with a few amazing beards.

Home Free’s third studio album is due out this fall. And lest you forget, their 2014 debut, Crazy Life, hit No. 1 on the iTunes Country chart and No. 4 overall. On traditional charts it reached No. 40 on the Billboard 200 and No. 8 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums.

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August 21, 2015

Former St. Olaf Choir conductor Kenneth Jennings dies

St. Olaf College Professor Emeritus of Music Kenneth Jennings ’50, who led the St. Olaf Choir for more than two decades, died Aug. 20. Funeral arrangements are pending.

“The world of choral music lost a great giant,” St. Olaf Choir Conductor Anton Armstrong ’78 told Minnesota Public Radio. “He was an immense influence on many of the leading choral directors of his time, both those who were able to sing under his baton or his beautiful hands, and those who experienced his performances with the St. Olaf Choir and the other choirs he conducted. We will remember him with great love and great admiration, and most of all, with great appreciation for the beauty he brought to the world of choral music.”

Jennings became the third conductor of the St. Olaf Choir in 1968, taking the helm of a renowned ensemble that up to that point had only been led by founder F. Melius Christiansen and his son, Olaf Christiansen ’25.

Read more.

August 20, 2015

Anton Armstrong celebrates 25 years as conductor of St. Olaf Choir

Minnesota Public Radio:

Anton Armstrong is celebrating his 25th anniversary as conductor of the St. Olaf Choir this year. Born in New York to first-generation Caribbean immigrants, Armstrong wound up at a Minnesota school with Norwegian roots, where he became one of the country's leading choral conductors.

MPR News' Tom Weber talked with Armstrong in the MPR studios and members of the St. Olaf choir performed a few pieces.

Listen here.

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August 19, 2015

Where In The World is El Chapo?

Back from a holiday visiting family and friends in England. We had a wonderful time and it was so enjoyable to see everybody again. Lots of news to catch up on but I'm glad to see that Rockapella is already on the case of the missing "El Chapo".

Rockapella Sings "Where In The World Is El Chapo?" from Funny Or Die

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August 18, 2015

Pentatonix helps Macy's All-School A Cappella Challenge

Starting in September, schools across the country can submit an a cappella version of The Jackson 5 hit “I Want You Back,” for a chance to win Macy’s All-School A Cappella Challenge. Students, faculty and staff of schools nationwide can enter a video performance of the song, unaccompanied by any music or instruments. Three $25,000 prizes will be awarded – one to a school in each of the following levels: elementary through middle school level, high school level and college level. Pentatonix will appear in a national commercial spot this summer.
Learn more here.

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