April 30, 2004

The Detroit News

The Broe Therapy Choir members wore sky-blue robes, lined up by their respective heights and sang sweetly on cue Tuesday afternoon. Waldo E. Lessenger Elementary’s 270 students, grades K-4, not only listened raptly to “Michael Row Your Boat Ashore” and “You Are My Sunshine,” but they also heard what brought the 26-member choir together. And it wasn’t just to sing a cappella.

Every member had suffered some kind of closed-head injury. Some choir members were injured because they hadn’t worn a seat belt in a car accident. Others were hurt because they didn’t wear a helmet, then crashed their bicycle or motorcycle. Some had been assaulted. Now, the members of the Broe Therapy Choir are using their misfortune to teach school children about safety.

Their school visit and the importance of their message wasn’t lost on children like fourth-grader Bryanna Collins. “I learned never to drink and drive and to always wear your seat belt,” said the 10-year-old Collins, shyly staring down at the floor. “They told what can happen to you if you’re not careful.” Len McCulloch, director of psychological services at the Farmington Hills-based Broe Rehabilitation, said while choir members’ injuries have limited their own capabilities, their current condition encourages youngsters to take more care in their everyday lives. It also helps the choir members, who range in age from 19-58.

“Some of the choir has trouble stringing words or thoughts together when they speak, yet find singing quite therapeutic,” he said. “It helps with their rehabilitation and also self-esteem. When you have hundreds of children and the news media coming out to see and hear you, it gives you a feeling what it’s like to be a celebrity.” McCulloch said he came up with the idea for the choir almost by accident. Five years ago, he was inspired while working with Lewis Jackson, now 44, who had been misdiagnosed as schizophrenic and spent 18 years in the Northville Regional Psychiatric Hospital.

“He actually had a traumatic head injury,” McCulloch said. “He couldn’t speak, yet he was always humming. One day I asked him if he liked to sing and if he could sing me something. “He let out an incredible rendition of ‘Amazing Grace.’ ” Victims of closed-head injuries often can express themselves or communicate more easily in song rather than normal speaking, McCulloch said, adding that singing also is a great form of brain exercise, which helps patients with their own individual therapy and rehabilitation.

McCulloch said the choir has expanded to between 20 and 32 members, depending on their physical condition. Most live in residential homes supervised by Broe, but some live with relatives. The choir has performed before 80 school groups to date, recorded four CDs and been the subject of electronic and print news reports. They will perform next month at the Farmington Area Arts Council, two schools in Farmington Hills and a third school in Redford. Choir member Cheryl Knapp, 35, of Dearborn Heights was a legal secretary for one of Metro Detroit’s top law firms until she was rear-ended by another motorist and injured about a year ago.

“I use to know (trigonometry); now I have to relearn basic math, and English and reading,” she said. “Sometimes I have a hard time finding the words I want to use. Sometimes my mind goes blank. “The choir helps me because I can do it (sing),” she said. Lessenger Principal Ronald Payok said this is the second time the choir has performed for students. “This is important for our kids to see what can happen when you don’t take simple safety precautions,” Payok said. “Good lessons for our kids.”

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Minneapolis Star Tribune

There's impatience in Erick Lichte's voice when he says, "In terms of live performance, we're probably Minnesota's No. 1 cultural export to the rest of the country -- that is, the most concerts for the most people. It'd be nice if people here knew that." There's no denying that Cantus' reach is national, perhaps international. Since 2000, when the group turned professional, most of its energy has gone into touring. It does 40 to 60 dates a year, performing in such far reaches as Canada and France. If one excludes the bigger opera choruses, such as that of the Metropolitan Opera, there are only two full-time professional choruses in the United States: Cantus and the group it was modeled on, the San Francisco-based male ensemble Chanticleer.

Cantus, formed by four students at St. Olaf College in Northfield, has worked hard to stand out in a difficult musical niche. Consider these issues: • Budget. In less than five years, the group's annual budget has grown to nearly $400,000. Cantus receives almost no grant money, and about 95 percent of its income is earned through ticket sales or concert fees. This is unheard of in the not-for-profit world, where most organizations must get as much as 60 percent of their budget from donations. Singers receive salaries of about $20,000 this year ($30,000 last year), which some supplement with other part-time gigs. Singers in part-time professional choruses, by comparison, are paid per-service, and might earn $3,000 to $4,000 in an average year. "Basically," as Lichte (pronounced "light") says, "we've made this work as a small business. We're like the James Brown of choruses: the hardest-working men in the choral music business."

The group's founding premise was "chamber music for voices." That meant there was no conductor and that every musical decision was open for discussion. "That turned out to be crazy," said tenor Brian Arreola. "It could take an hour to discuss four bars." As a remedy, the singers developed what they call the "producer system": Each member is in charge of one piece on an upcoming program, coming up with a concept for the piece and conducting its rehearsal. More

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Toxic Audio's off-Broadway show Loud Mouth has been nominated for a 2004 Drama Desk Award for "Unique Theatrical Experience."

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April 29, 2004

Gramophone Magazine

The Sixteen have struck a recording deal with Universal Classics. Described as a ‘long-term collaboration’ the arrangement is independent of the choral group’s recording projects on their own label, Coro, and is likely to produce one new recording per year. The first release will be a double-CD including some of the most popular pieces in The Sixteen’s repertoire, drawing on sacred choral music from across five centuries.

Harry Christophers, conductor and founder of The Sixteen, said of the recording, due for release in July: ‘The human voice is, without doubt, the most expressive instrument in music and has inspired composers through the centuries. Here we have the opportunity to explore that expressive range in choral music, taking us from the simplicity of the plainsong line to works in 4 to 14 parts which touch the heart of our emotions, whether in prayer, hope or exultant praise.'

'All reflect the architecture of Europe’s greatest cathedrals and chapels, be it the vast nave of Canterbury or Seville, the golden domes of St Mark’s Venice or Michelangelo’s impressive frescoes in the Sistine Chapel,’ he added. During its 25-year history The Sixteen have made 80 recordings, and concert commitments include an annual tour of UK cathedrals.

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Jazz Review

Janis Siegel,one of the greatest harmony singers of her (or, perhaps, any) generation, once again delights audiences with Sketches of Broadway, knockin' 'em dead with the hottest ticket in town. Set for release on April 27, The Manhattan Transfer co-founder's third Telarc release spotlights stylish readings of Broadway nuggets.

"The question about The Manhattan Transfer was always: 'Are you a jazz group or a pop group?'" she says. "When we were concentrating on jazz and we had Vocalese out in 1985, and it was very popular, we were embraced by the jazz purists and jazz radio, but pop radio wouldn't play us. But then, when we do pop records, oh my God, the jazz people just go to pieces."

Siegel - who has made a home in Manhattan with her son, Gabriel, and generally follows her own muse - isn't about to get backed into the hopeless corner of trying to be all things to all people. Some styles are timeless and universal, regardless of prevailing trends.

"I think people will always respond to emotion and to great songs sung well," she says. "And I think the vocalists in particular will always be in demand. "There's nothing that approximates the human voice. In the end, when you come down to it, people want to feel something." More

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April 28, 2004

The musical "The Shaggs: Philosophy of the World" cowritten by Gunnar Madsen (formerly of The Bobs) has won two LA Weekly awards for Musical of the Year and Best Original Score. The show opens this weekend in Chicago at the Looking Glass Theater.

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Harmony Sweepstakes National Champions "The Idea Of North" are currently performing a few US dates on their way to host the National Finals. As they are from Australia there are few chances to see this exceptional vocal jazz group so if you have the chance be sure to check them out. Dates. Gig just added - The Bitter End, NYC - May 4, 9.30PM

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June Pointer Whitmore, formerly of the singing group the Pointer Sisters, has been charged with possession of a controlled substance and a smoking device, the Los Angeles County district attorney's office said Monday. Whitmore, 50, was arrested April 22 in the 1800 block of Cherokee Street in Hollywood after police discovered cocaine and cocaine pipes in her possession, officials said. Officers said they were responding to residents' complaints when they found and interviewed her outside her sister Bonnie Pointer's apartment. Whitmore was released on $10,000 bail Saturday, and is scheduled to appear in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Friday. She has not performed with the Pointer Sisters for at least four years, said Marty Singer, the group's attorney. He said her sisters, Anita and Ruth Pointer, asked her to leave the group several years ago

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April 27, 2004

The International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella held it's Finals in New York this past weekend. The results are:-

1st: Millikin University OneVoice
2nd: Mt. San Antonio College Fermata Nowhere
3rd: Cornell University Chordials

Outstanding Choreography: Mt. San Antonio College Fermata Nowhere

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Daily Mirror (UK)

Pop Idol judge Simon Cowell is hoping to find a new Cliff Richard or Dusty Springfield with his next TV talent show. Mr Nasty has scrapped the upper age limit for contestants on ITV1's The X Factor after noticing the recent chart success of older artists. Cowell, 44, said: "We're not specifically looking for an 80-year-old pop star, but we have taken the age range off." The show will be Cowell's first since signing a £1.25million, two-year deal with ITV this month.

Any singer, or singing group, can apply if over 16. Cowell said: "People who are 35 or 36 won't take my crap. When I say they're the worst thing I've ever seen they won't say 'thank you' - I'll probably get my head kicked in." The three categories are older artists, younger artists and singing groups. Mel B and Westlife manager Louis Walsh are being tipped as the other judges. The public vote for an overall winner. Call 0900 2000 456 for details.

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SF Chronicle

Pop beauty Britney Spears gave her older brother Bryan a birthday to remember -- by dancing with Carmen Electra and burlesque troupe the Pussycat Dolls especially for him. But the big surprise came when Electra and the Dolls took to the stage for a 20-minute set, followed by a lingerie-clad Spears, who sang "Happy Birthday" a cappella.

Now for that we would change the rules for the Harmony Sweeps and allow solos performers...Editor

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April 26, 2004

Oakland Tribune

If you haven't had the heavenly experience of listening to Kitka, the women's vocal ensemble, cancel your plans and attend a concert this weekend. That might sound like too much hype. It isn't. Kitka's voice is something you've never heard. It can start as a fragile wisp, growing and building into a huge, powerful sound that seems to envelope you. I once saw them do an impromptu song at a restaurant, and the other diners stopped in mid-bite, mesmerized. When Kitka finished, napkins fell on the floor. The diners gave them a standing ovation.

Kitka's focus is Eastern European folk music, sung either a cappella or with folk instruments, but it pushes any boundaries. It has collaborated with Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir, another Oakland-based group, exploring the commonalties between the Balkan and African-American women folk-song traditions. "There are strikingly similar modalities," said Shira Cion, lead vocalist and co-director along with Julianna Graffagna and Janet Kutulas. "We juxtaposed Balkan harvest songs with African-American field hollers, congregational moans with Caucasian laments. There are call-and-response similarities. Linda calls it communal moaning. We call it droning."

This weekend's concert is another collaboration with Ukrainian singer and actress Mariana Sadovska, who has performed with the Polish experimental/anthropological theater company, Gardienice. Actors and singers go to villages all over the world, immerse themselves in the village culture and develop new theater pieces. "Mariana brings theatricality, folklore and physicality to her performance," Cion said. "She is an incredible interpreter of songs." More

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April 23, 2004

Troy Record

To speak of a cappella singing conjures up two disparate images: four guys standing on the corner singing popular tunes - from the do-wop of the '50s to the barbershop of an earlier era - or sacred music sung by a choir. There's a lot of room in between those poles for vocal ensembles such as Chanticleer, the 12-man San Francisco-based ensemble that has in the past quarter century become a Grammy darling while tackling a broad repertoire from jazz to gospel, renaissance to requiem.

Their signature sound, says Jennings, "I would say is a transparent sound. It's full but not thick. It's capable of lots of colors and adapts itself to a lot of styles. And the fact that it's all men, covering all vocal ranges, gives it a homogeneity of sound, like a string quartet." The roots of Chanticleer - named for the singing rooster in Chaucer's 'Canterbury Tales' - were informal. Botto, a musical-history major singing with the San Francisco Symphony Chorus and the Grace Cathedral choir in the 1970s, gathered together a small group of friends to explore the Renaissance choral repertoire not widely being performed.

"It was just to sing early music for fun," says Jennings. "They'd meet in people's apartments, and they'd eat and sing." A friend persuaded them to perform in concert at Old Mission Dolores outside San Francisco, which led to a packed house, a decision to continue to perform locally on occasion - and ultimately an introduction to a concert booker in New York.

"The group had a very important decision to make, whether or not to accept commercial bookings," says Jennings. "Everyone had day jobs, and to this point it had all been an avocation rather than a vocation." The decision to make the jump to a professional venture led to more formalized auditions and an expansion of the original nine-man ensemble to its current 12, "a good, manageable size," says Jennings. "We do lots of SATB music, but if we do five- or six-part music, we can still split it up pretty well. But at this size, we can still know each other, know each other's voices and exist as a chamber ensemble." More

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Those of you on the west coast might well be seeing the Mighty Echoes in the Jack In The Box "Back To The 50's" TV ad campaign. They also wrote the a cappella jingle which helps make it a sweet gig for a regional a cappella group.

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The nominations for the 2004 MAC (Manhattan Association of Cabarets & Clubs) Awards have been announced. In addition to awards in over 20 categories -- such as male and female vocalist, male and female New York debut, revue, vocal duo/group, singer-songwriter, impersonation/characterization, stand-up comedy, and musical director -- the MAC Lifetime Achievement Award will be given to Manhattan Transfer. In addition, one or more Board of Directors Awards will be announced at a later date. More

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April 21, 2004

Rolling Stone

Jerry Lawson is best known as providing the buttery lead vocal for the flagship doo-wop-cum-gospel-cum-soul-cum-beep-bop a cappella group the Persuasions. But after forty-one years, twenty-one albums, tours with Joni Mitchell and Stevie Wonder, and chronic under-appreciation -- so much so that Lawson now supports himself by driving a bus full of elderly folks suffering from Down Syndrome -- the frontman is finally quitting the quintet for a solo career, with a proper band.

"There are so many beautiful songs that I just couldn't do a cappella," Lawson, sixty, says. "I was listening to Little Richard and Curtis Mayfield a few years back, and I turned to my wife, and said, 'You ain't going to believe this honey, but I can do this. I got to get me a band.'" Lawson can't just talk about music -- he's got to sing. At mere mention of tunes he likes -- Bob Dylan's "The Man in Me" or any Mayfield track -- he starts to croon. And he's now started focusing that energy into two solo big-band albums: a collection of jazz standards backed by the Moscow Philharmonic followed by a set of classic rhythm-and-blues numbers complete with a horn section. Although he's pre-recorded the old Jerry Butler tune "He Don't Love You (Like I Love You)" -- a version boasting Lawson's trademark sweetness and slippery soul -- he's still waiting for the right label to make the right offer. But that hasn't dampened his enthusiasm or his elation.

"I'm feeling just so good about so many things, man," Lawson says. "And I'm still able to give the world some more, so I'm gonna give it a try. I started singing that stuff, and we started listening to it, and tears started coming to my eyes."

The Persuasions' story is an epic one, a tearjerker even. Back in the early 1960s, lacking a proper band but bursting with song, Lawson moved from Florida to New York City and eventually found a few friends to harmonize with on the streets of Brooklyn. And, man, could they sing, reviving the sound straight out of their respective Southern churches. In a matter of years, the impoverished five went from goofing around after pick-up basketball games to serenading droves of locals in the neighborhood to opening for Dionne Warwick and Burt Bacharach at Lincoln Center (the band's first gig). "Man, we left the stage to a standing ovation -- nobody had never heard of five guys singing a cappella," Lawson remembers. "They didn't know what they were in for. And neither did we. They asked for an encore, and I had to ask a guy, 'What is an encore?'"

The band then quickly became regulars at New York's Bitter End, performing, as Lawson tells it, regularly in front of Jefferson Airplane, Peter Paul and Mary, and the Kingston Trio. Before long, everyone from Bette Midler, Ray Charles and the Blind Boys of Alabama not only knew of the Persuasions but brought the band out on the road.

"We got a call to go on tour through the South opening for Liza Minnelli," Lawson says. "She had eighty-seven pieces and dancing girls. And here we are, five little black boys. We got on the plane, and all of us, being from the South, went to the back of the plane. And she was like, 'What are you doing? It ain't like that.'"

Persuasions records play like artifacts, showcasing an overlooked form. The albums dazzle with their barbershop harmonies, warm rhythms and ethereal spirit; and boast their signature slogan: "This recording contains no instruments other than the human voice." Mostly covers, the band turns standards, blues music, pop tunes, and even Frank Zappa and Grateful Dead songs into vocal, rootsy splendor. Even so, although critics have always praised the band and a niche group of fans still obsess over their music, the Persuasions have never seen proper royalties. Like many young, naive artists from the period, the Persuasions suffered from shoddy management and agents. Still, Lawson bears no grudges.

"I don't have time to be bitter," he says. "I'm just so happy that at my age I still have a good voice. I'm really elated for the life that I had with the Persuasions and the time that God gave me to be with them." Of course, singing without instruments didn't exactly help much either. To many, a cappella music is spineless fluff to be reserved for college campuses, where it occupies a musical no-man's land alongside campy show tunes -- hardly the glorified gospel of the Persuasions.

"A cappella will never grow past a small market," Lawson says. "It comes back to money. They can't sell instruments. So the kids are being brought up to play guitars and trumpets. The industry won't promote a cappella if they can't sell instruments." But, again, Lawson revels when he can. And recently the Colorado branch of the A Cappella Society of America named their top award for best soloist, "The Jerry Lawson Award." And the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens just added the Persuasions to their Celebrity Path, alongside Neil Diamond, Woodie Guthrie, Barbara Streisand and other immortals. "I gave it all I had [with the Persuasions], but there was only so much I could do," Lawson says. "I want to the world to really hear me. My first album is going to be called My Time to Shine."

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Cincinnati Enquirer

Their four-part harmonizing was so close, it was hard to tell where one voice ended and another began. When New York Voices visited the Cincinnati Pops on Sunday, the group's incomparable blend, hip delivery and great arrangements resulted in one swinging party. The Grammy-winning jazz vocal quartet joined guest conductor Jeff Tyzik and the Pops for an evening of big band-era swing. Their songbook was a sophisticated, polished package, from a haunting, pure-toned "I'll Be Seeing You," sung a cappella, to "Cloudburst," a nonstop barrage of patter by singer Darmon Meader, who also wailed on his saxophone.

The group's arrangements, by the multitalented Meader, were fun and inventive. Ellington's "Bli-Blip" was a slow, swinging scat on nonsense syllables. Louis Prima's classic "Sing, Sing, Sing," which ended the first half, was not the souped-up, Big Band style many know, but a cooled-down version that emphasized the words.

Tyzik introduced the second half with a tribute to Count Basie. The medley included "Basie's Back in Town," a fast, gutsy ride with impressive feats from Spangler and VanMatre, and "Lullaby for Basie," a simple tune that Tyzik embellished with his trumpet. New York Voices' "Don't Be That Way" and "I Can't Believe You're in Love with Me" were classy and sophisticated, with high-flying interjections from screech trumpeter Brad Goode. But the highlight came in Hoagy Carmichael's "Stardust," sung with gorgeous blend - a rare reflective moment in this high-energy evening. The only disappointment was that there was no encore, despite a standing ovation from the large Music Hall crowd.

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World-renowned vocal coach Sylvia Olden Lee, 86, who coached opera and spirituals divas Kathleen Battle, Jessye Norman, and Marian Anderson, died of pancreatic cancer April 10 at her Germantown home. Singer and godson Bobby McFerrin said Friday: "I don't think there are enough adjectives to describe Sylvia's boundless energy. She was on fire all the time. "Sylvia was one of the best-known vocal coaches in the world. Her knowledge about Negro spirituals was boundless," said McFerrin, whose parents — singers Sara Copper and Robert McFerrin — were coached by Mrs. Lee. Sara Copper McFerrin said, "She taught me musical phrases and nuances" — lessons that were delivered with wit and humor.

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April 20, 2004

Salt Lake Tribune

The crowd surrounded the old man in the white Stetson hat. They came with strips of paper for autographs, and gray-haired women blushed like schoolgirls at the singer who's brought so much attention to this quiet mountain town. Ralph Stanley, 77, has spent a lifetime telling the world in a sorrowful whisper about the hardscrabble community where he was born. In Dickenson County, where he still lives, Stanley is no less than a folk hero.

These days the community needs him more than ever. With the region's economy faltering, community leaders have pinned their hopes for prosperity to a $1.4 million museum dedicated to Stanley, scheduled to open this fall.The Ralph Stanley Museum and Traditional Mountain Music Center will be added to the Crooked Road Heritage Trail, which showcases Virginia's Appalachian culture by linking bluegrass music venues. A small man with sharp blue eyes and wavy white hair that cascades to the back of his head, Stanley grew up in the hills around Clintwood in a community one would expect for a bluegrass legend.

He learned to sing in a little white Baptist church with homemade benches. The pastor discouraged instruments in church, but Ralph and his older brother Carter took up the banjo and guitar anyway, playing some of their first songs at the high school in town. Stanley has recorded hundreds of albums since then, receiving most of his recent acclaim by singing a cappella, the way he once did in church. "He's the embodiment of things that we hold dear," said Herb Smith, a Kentucky filmmaker who produced a video biography of Stanley in 2001. "He stayed in the community and at the same time presented our culture in a positive way externally. That's a rare combination." More

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Hollywood Reporter

Peggy DeCastro, the eldest member of the DeCastro Sisters, the Latin singing group that gained fame with the 1950s hit "Teach Me Tonight" and was a popular attraction at Las Vegas hotels and nightclubs for years, has died. She was 82. DeCastro died March 6 of lung cancer, according to her manager, Alan Eichler. She and her sisters Cherie and Babette first gained attention in Cuba with their flamboyant nightclub act.

After moving to Miami with their family in 1945, they became protegees of Brazilian singing star Carmen Miranda, who put them in her film "Copacabana." They went on to make television history in 1947 when they appeared on the first live broadcast of Los Angeles station KTLA, performing "Babalu" after an introduction by Bob Hope. The trio, with Babette having been replaced by cousin Olgita DeCastro Marino, returned in 1997 for the station's 50th anniversary show.

The sisters had their biggest hit in 1954 with the Sammy Cahn-Gene De Paul song "Teach Me Tonight," which sold more than five million copies. Other hits included "Boom Boom Boomerang," "Too Late Now," "Snowbound for Christmas," "Give Me Time" and "Cowboys Don't Cry." They also found much success in Las Vegas over the years, appearing at nightclubs and the Desert Inn and Sahara hotels, and working with such entertainers as George Burns and Noel Coward. DeCastro gave her final performance on Feb. 14 when, appearing seated in a wheelchair, she sang "Old Man Time" with her sister Cherie at Boulder Station in Las Vegas. She is survived by her sister and a son, Gene Lilley of Thousand Oaks.

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April 16, 2004

As we seem to have a flu bug going thru the a cappella offices at present there will be light postings over the next few days. The editor.

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Las Vegas Review Journal

What's wrong with this picture: the Mormon Tabernacle Choir performs Tuesday in a "Sin City" resort? Absolutely nothing, according to the choir's music director, Craig Jessop. This isn't the first time the choir has played Las Vegas. Seven or eight times in the past, in fact. But never at a gambling resort. "The Orleans Arena seemed to be the largest suitable venue for this performance," Jessop said in a phone interview. The multipurpose arena is separate from The Orleans casino and hosts concerts and sports events. Meanwhile, the 360-singer all-volunteer choir is in the city to be inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters' Hall of Fame in honor of its 75-year radio program, "Music and the Spoken Word."

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Bernice Johnson Reagon has been declared 2004 "Artist of the Year" by the Contemporary A Cappella Awards. Rest of results here.

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April 15, 2004


Musicians can get so caught up in the seriousness of music-making. They forget that Mozart was a really joyful man--he had a lot of fun," says Bobby McFerrin by phone from his Philadelphia home. "Musicians play for a living. Remember that, to think of that word, play. We play our instruments. We play music." Not your everyday singer, McFerrin has an incredible four-octave range (that's 48 keys long on a piano) and a vast array of contrasting vocal techniques.

McFerrin sees himself and other musicians as being here "to lift the spirits of humanity, to feed the soul. That's what our main job is." A strong believer in the healing power of music, McFerrin sees his performances as opportunities for the audience and sometimes even the performer to rise above and transform emotions and even physical symptoms.

"I like to think that our task as musicians is transcendence," he says. "When you're performing in front of people, you don't want them to leave the same way they came in. You know, sometimes when you go to a concert, your heart is closed for one reason or another, you had a fight with your spouse, you just got fired from your job, one of your kids is sick, they cancelled your favorite TV show, who knows. So you're dragged to this concert kicking and screaming, and then all of a sudden something happens, and you're completely changed."

But what if it's McFerrin himself who had the bad day before the concert? "I think I'd rather [perform]," he says, "than sit around and mope and feel sorry for myself, or have my own pity party or get trapped in my own emotions. When I'm confused or angry or upset or something, when my temper is a little bit unbalanced, singing is a really good therapy for me." McFerrin, who has been married to his wife Debbie for almost 30 years and has two sons, says that beyond everything else, he values his family life and being a normal guy and doing normal things in his off time, which he makes sure he has plenty of.

"You know, when you're a celebrity, people just love you, but they don't know you. You go out there and they just love you to death, you know, you're applauded up and down. You lift up a glass of water to take a drink, and they applaud that. You take off your shoes and they applaud, you know, its just incredible!" he says. "It's a crazy, crazy unrealistic life. Your family is what's real, what's supporting you. They know all of your quirks and annoying little habits and they put up with you on a daily basis." More

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April 14, 2004

With all the regionals now completed the Harmony Sweepstakes A Cappella Festival has announced the line up for this year's National Finals to be held May 8 in Marin County, California. Appropriately for their 20th anniversary season the producers believe this is quite possibly the strongest group of performers they have ever presented and reflects the ever growing interest in the event. With a record amount of group submissions and full houses at most all of the regionals they think the judges have selected some of the top vocal harmony groups in the country.

Los Angeles - Alpha
Chicago - Chapter 6
San Francisco - Clockwork
Pacific Northwest - Heebee Jeebees
Rocky Mountain - Inpulse
Mid Atlantic - Mosaic
Boston - Road Show
New York - Vox Bop

Hosted by 2003 National Champions (all the way from Australia):-
The Idea Of North

For complete event information click here.

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The Corrs have announced full details of their new album, 'Borrowed Heaven', due out on 21 May.Made over an 18-month period, 'Borrowed Heaven' was recorded in Dublin and Los Angeles and produced by Olle Romo, who has previously worked with Melanie C and Kelly Clarkson.The album's title track features Ladysmith Black Mambazo, who were on the bill with The Corrs at the 46664 concert in South Africa last November.

Posted by acapnews at 9:11 AM | Comments (0)

Empire Online

It's one of those stories so odd that it must be true. In 1999, a group of 41 Romanians disguised themselves as folk musicians, complete with fake awards and testimonials, and applied to take part in Ireland's Sligo International Choral Festival. The organiser of the festival, a priest, immediately booked them for the opening night on the strength of all those awards. Bucharest's honorary Irish consul happily issued visas for all 41 members of the choir, impressed that they had even heard of Sligo - and failed to pick up on the fact that the name of the group, Dorul, means "desire for freedom" in Romanian. Once in Dublin the group melted into thin air, with some members claiming asylum and others still not located.

Now a film called Sliding Dice has been produced, starring and co-written by Barry Mulligan, the Irish consul who issued the visas. The film will be a fictionalised account of the scheme, starring Mulligan as a con-man trying to help the group come up with an alternative to stowing away in cargo containers in order to reach Ireland. Sliding Dice has been shot in Romania for the past six weeks and filming is now taking place in Ireland. It is expected the movie will be released in early summer.

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The Battalion

Rockapella's Jeff Thacher said the live playlist is divided into equal portions of original material and cover songs. He said the members' individuality lends variety and color to the shows. "We have our own personalities and tastes and that gives a good flavor to the group," Thacher said. "We're not tastelessly loud and big, but we have what we call the 'wow' factor." He said that "wow" emerges in the fancy vocalized guitar and drum solos delivered to astonished audiences. "Scott (Leonard) is our main soloist, but we all rotate solos," Thacher said. "I have a lengthy drum solo."

Reproducing the sounds heard on records requires communication and balance, Thacher said. "The mix of volumes and sounds must be articulate. "Everyone feels great when we communicate well and have our stuff together, then we can be inventive and powerful."

Steve Lewis, Rockapella's co-manager, said the band's two performances will be a long-overdue Texas debut. "For a while fans in Texas had been sending us about a dozen emails a month," Lewis said. "Rockapella is widely known in the college circuit through groups like Glee Club. We like universities as venues because the theaters are higher quality." Despite this debut and the band's past commercial success, Thatcher said Rockapella remains humble in its quest to grab a wider audience. "We take opportunities even if they won't lead directly to fame," Thacher said. "We do treat it like a business, but our main concern is that what we're doing makes us happy." More

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April 13, 2004

Herald Tribune

They sing, shimmer, sway, shuck and jive, all 60 of them, poised on six-foot risers like a glittering store display of diamond- laden Mother's Day pendants: The Sweet Adelines are in the house.

Tonight is dress rehearsal for the Venetian Harmony Chapter of the Sweet Adelines International, a prelude to state competitions in Orlando, where they'll be joining 16 other groups from around the state on April 23. Last year, the group took first place in the mid-sized chorus division. The rehearsal is open free to the public. "It's kind of a gift to the community," says director PollyAnn Nanafito, who took charge of the barbershop-style singing group five years ago.

A retired schoolteacher, Nanafito began singing with the Sweet Adelines 26 years at the suggestion of a friend from her Connecticut church choir. "Used to be women joined just for something to do to get out of the house," says Nanafito, who points out that half the group are working women. "Now it's more out of a passion for singing and performing rather than an escape." A relative newcomer to the group, O'Connell showed up at a rehearsal last August on her 50th birthday after moving to North Port from her Massachusetts home just two months earlier. "It was the best thing I've ever done for myself," she says.

The members of the Venice group, who come from as far away as Bradenton and Punta Gorda, rehearse 31/2 hours a week, 52 weeks a year. Betty Jean Neyedly has been a member of the group since its inception 21 years ago. "It's a terrific experience," says the retired schoolteacher and North Port resident. "Especially if you've got a little ham in you." Group member Elaine Squires thinks maybe some people still think of the Adelines as a bunch of women standing ramrod straight, hands to their sides singing the oldies. "It's not like that anymore," says the 60-something former real estate agent. "We put on a show -- and a lively and exciting one at that."

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The Nation (Thailand)

The applause rang out loud and clear as The Gospellers – Japan’s popular a cappella vocal quintet – were presented with the [V] I P award at Channel [V] Thailand Music Video Awards III last Wednesday at the Thailand Cultural Centre. Not that it was entirely unexpected. After all the [V] I P award is given to an artist (or artists) for their experience and continuous development of sound and ability throughout their music career. The Gospellers fit that description perfectly.

At the award-presentation event, the five Japanese vocalists showcased two songs, “Shin Osaka” from the latest album, followed by a cover of Joe Thomas’ “No One Else Comes Close.”The next morning, The Gospellers hold a press conference before spending the afternoon signing autographs for eager fans at Siam Square. In the evening, they dined on Thai food – and tried out the curries – at Kin Lom Chom Sapan restaurant.

“They’re really nice guys,” comments an official from Sony Music. “They even went onstage at the restaurant and sang foreign covers.” The Gospellers, who paved the way for the popular revival of a cappella music in Japan, have contributed to the scene thanks to their outstanding talent for song writing. Their rich harmonies have also served to expose their music to a more mainstream audience.

The Gospellers date back to 1991, when a few guys belonging to the a cappella club of Waseda University decided to get together. Changes in membership followed and in 1994 they signed with Ki/oon Records (Sony Music Records). Their first self-titled album was released the following year. Since then, they haven’t stopped recording. “Nimaime” was released in 1996, “Mo’ Bear” in 1997, “Vol 4” in 1998, “Five Keys” in 1999 and “Soul Serenade” in 2000.

That same year The Gospellers surprised Japanese fans by coming up with a single entitled “Towani”, on which they collaborated with up-and-coming producer Bryan Michael Cox (Mariah Carey, Jagged Edge, etc). “Towani”, a combination of Japanese-style melody and American arrangement received heavy airplay on radio stations throughout Japan. Also, the “Soul Serenade” album was highly anticipated and well received, staying on Japanese charts for several weeks. Continuing with successful releases, their single “Hitori”, a song featuring their a cappella sound, also had good chart action. “Love Notes”, released in 2001, is a compilation from their back catalogues. With more than 1.8 million copies sold, it offers proof that their music has been widely accepted. “Love Notes” was distributed throughout Asia and was Thailand’s first introduction to the band.

In 2002, they came out with “Frenzy” and unleashed a series of hot hits, among them “Kokuhaku”, “Hitori”, “Yakusokuno Kisetsu”, “Chikai” and “Get Me On”. Many of the numbers were produced in collaboration with US producers Teddy Bishop and Bryan-Michael Cox. “Escort” is their brand-new single and is included on the 2002 Fifa World Cup TM Korea/Japan Album “Songs of Korea/Japan”. Their eighth album, “A Cappella”, was also released the same year. More

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Baltimore Sun

Mandela appeared frail, his face tired, his tightly curled hair a shock of white. His assistants transported him almost like a prop to the stage, where he gave a short prepared speech and posed graciously for photos before being led by an assistant to his chair.

But he did not sit long.

When the South African band Ladysmith Black Mambazo took the stage to play a song, Mandela tapped his bodyguards and asked to be helped to his feet. He shuffled slowly over to the singers and to the beat of the music began dancing, swinging his arms as if he were about to take off for a jog. A smile grew on his face from ear to ear. The audience, caught in the orbit of Mandela's charms, roared with applause.

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April 9, 2004

Washington Times

Watching J. Weldon Norris coach the internationally acclaimed Howard University Choir through a set of spirituals is something of a revelation for both the listener and the singer. That's because despite the choir's easy command of the works of Bach and Beethoven, this time the choirmaster is pushing them to go against the inclination of music majors everywhere. "Don't look at the music and don't read the notes," says Mr. Norris. He has been the choir's music director and conductor since 1973 and holds a bachelor's degree in chemistry and biology as well as advanced degrees in music from Howard and Indiana universities. "You have to feel it."

Walk into just about any Baptist church in the District this weekend, and you're likely to hear at least one spiritual, forged in slavery and carried throughout the world by one or another of the great black university choirs of the late 19th and early 20th century (such as the Fisk Jubilee Singers, founded in 1867, and groups modeled on it).

Sit in on one of the Folklore Society of Greater Washington's Sacred Harp sings, and you'll hear hymns and spirituals that hark back to Colonial New England and the rural South. Browse through the racks at your local music store, and you'll find recordings of spirituals carried to the operatic stratosphere. No matter where you go this Easter in the Washington area, it's likely that you'll hear some variant of the spiritual, a uniquely American art form that encompasses black and white American traditions, European hymns, and African sensibilities. More

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The Cavalier Daily

What's all the hullabaloo about the Hullabahoos? The a cappella group has been generating a lot of attention recently. Consisting of 15 undergraduates, the Hullabahoos are one of three all-male singing groups at the University. Known for their humor and eccentricity, the group members perform clad in brightly-patterned robes as part of a long-standing tradition (in fact, their Web site boasts the slogan: "Robed for your Pleasure"). With a varied repertoire that includes pop/funk songs like "Hey Ya!" to classic rock songs like Van Morrison's "Crazy Love" to Mo Town, the group's versatility contributes to its current success.

While the Hullabahoos make their presence known to University audiences through frequent concerts and performances, they recently had the unique opportunity to perform for a new kind of audience on Capitol Hill. The group entertained at a fundraiser dinner for the Republican National Congressional Committee, held at the Washington D.C. Hilton Hotel last Thursday. Although the Hullabahoos have no official affiliation with the Republican Party, group members said they were honored to sing in front of the high-level clientele, which included Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, members of the House of Representatives and President George W. Bush, who attended earlier in the night.

The singing group held its ground despite warnings from the event planner that the seated audience might be inattentive. As the last scheduled performance of the event, the Hullabahoos said they expected to wrap up the night while members of the audience exited the convention room. Keith Bachman, a third-year College student and the musical director of the group, said he was impressed by the audience's reaction. "It was a nice feeling that there were still people watching us at the end," Bachman said. "While that may seem weird, it was an accomplishment that, according to the event planner, not even Meatloaf [who had previously performed for the RNCC] could pull off." More

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April 8, 2004


There will be no virtual orchestra, or regular one for that matter, when five vocalists known as Toxic Audio bring their "vocal pyrotechnics" to Off-Broadway's John Houseman Theater Center in Loudmouth, starting April 7. The new show, presented by Eric Krebs and The John Houseman Theater Center in association with Castle Talent, Inc. and M. Kilburg Reedy, will open April 18. Using no instruments other than their voices, Toxic Audio create "complex sonic textures, rhythmic drumbeats, thumping bass lines and searing guitar-like solos in their performance of contemporary pop songs, timeless classics, jazz-scat and vocally-orchestrated original compositions," according to show materials.

Jeremy James, Shalisa James, René Ruiz, Paul Sperrazza and Michelle Mailhot Valines — who comprise Toxic Audio — make their Off-Broadway debuts in Loudmouth. Ruiz directs the work. The group has performed across the country as well as in Canada, Mexico, Asia and in the Caribbean. Toxic Audio appeared at The International New York Fringe Festival and performed alongside comedian Wayne Brady. The ensemble played a brief showcase production at the American Theater of Actors earlier this season. The design team of Loudmouth features John A. Valines III (sound), Peter R. Feuchtwanger (scenic and lighting) and David Brooks (costumes). Loudmouth performs at the John Houseman Theater Center, located at 450 West 42nd Street (between Ninth and Tenth Avenue).

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A remarkable era of music performance and education at Luther College will come to an end next year when Weston Noble internationally acclaimed music educator and choral conductor, retires after a 57-year career at the college. Noble, recipient of innumerable music and music education awards and the spiritual and motivational core of the Luther music program since 1948, has announced his intention to retire at the end of the 2004-05 academic year. He will remain an active member of the college's music programs and faculty as a music student recruiter with the Luther Admissions Office.

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The Australian

It is not often that Easter is celebrated in the Eastern Orthodox and the Western churches simultaneously. This year they coincide, but the music each uses is dramatically different. The Orthodox churches are derived from Byzantium – the eastern branch of Christendom that had its roots in the city of Constantinople, now Istanbul. The music heard in these churches today still reflects the ancient Byzantine concept of music's role in worship. The a cappella – or unaccompanied – music of Orthodoxy is a tradition that preserves the power of the human voice to praise God.

The Russian Orthodox Church in Australia is a close-knit community led by Archbishop Hilarion, a large man with an American accent and a basso profundo voice. Asked if it is true that Russian deacons are chosen for their voices, he says: "Of course, the deacon is so important in the liturgy. He might be a bass, a baritone or even a tenor."

He explains that 4th-century bishop St Basil the Great was opposed to musical instruments in church, as these would take away a person's thoughts from God and draw attention to the players. There was another reason – pagan cults and other non-Christian forms of worship used musical instruments. The early Christian Church resolved to distance itself from these practices.

By the end of the 4th century, the church was singing old Jewish psalms to eight tones. The Russians then improvised and developed a form of chanting that made use of more folksy melodies, mostly from Bulgaria. Out of this came the distinctive Znamenny chant, with slow and languorous melodies. They also invented a system of notation with hundreds of signs that represented single notes, or two or more notes – even musical patterns. What would eventually distinguish Russian church music was its move into glorious harmony in the 16th century. In 300 years, this harmony would attract the attention of great composers such as Tchaikovsky, Balakirev, Rimsky-Korsakov and Arensky, but the power of the old chants would remain.

He says Byzantine music is a fusion of ancient Greek elements and Eastern influences. There are eight modes, or tones, each with its own scale, particular rhythm and intensity of expression that help enhance the power of the words of the scriptures. Tones two and six, which employ quarter notes, have an especially plaintive sound. During Holy Week, which leads up to Easter, all eight tones are used to express joy, sorrow, despondency, betrayal and the moments of agony for Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane and his death on the cross. The seventh mode is used in the darkness of Holy Saturday night, with a bright contrast when the exuberant first mode is used to greet the Resurrection, and the sixth mode when the hymn Christ is Risen resounds in the church. But the chants of the Orthodox churches, especially at this time of year, are memorable for their austere beauty. They also speak of an ageless form of musical art, its origins preserved for many centuries by purely oral transmission by one lot of singers to another. More

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Baltimore Sun

Continuing an effort to remake itself, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is expected this week to name an unconventional new president, a former Internet executive. James Glicker, 49, who has little experience in the orchestral field, is the choice for the BSO's top administrative job, pending approval by its board of directors, orchestra sources say. He had not worked for an orchestra before being hired by the BSO in January for the newly created position of chief marketing officer. While at Yale University, Glicker took music courses and directed that school's a cappella men's chorus, the Whiffenpoofs. His resume also lists senior administrative posts for a major record company, BMG (Bertelsman Music Group).

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April 6, 2004

Boston Globe

J.J. Keki sings out the opening phrase of Psalm 136 in a hypnotic voice that sounds as if it's rising from the mountains of his remote village. His original version of the passage, recalling the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt, is sung in Luganda, the national language of Uganda. A choral response echoes Keki's pattern in a higher register, fuller but with the same clarity, unimpeded by accompaniment. Together they form a melodic conversation. The songs that follow, some of which are in Hebrew and honor the Sabbath, are similarly steeped in contemporary African influences. The music is at once foreign, familiar, and incomparable. This is the sound of the Abayudaya, a community of about 600 people in eastern Uganda who are practicing Jews.

"The nature of the musical and liturgical traditions of this community is this wonderful blend of local Ugandan musical traditions, local East African traditions, and a developing Hebrew liturgy, a Jewish liturgy that really brings together a synthesis of [what] this community is," said Summit, who's also executive director of the Hillel Foundation on the Tufts Medford campus.Today, members of the Abayudaya continue to compose and sing music as part of their daily lives -- in the fields where they grow plantains and sweet potatoes, in their homes, and in their mud-brick synagogues, which are decorated with hand-painted chalk drawings of menorahs and Stars of David. More

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Seattle Times

Some wear bifocals and hearing aids. Many are gray or balding. On a recent Saturday, members of several local barbershop quartets gathered at a Magnolia church for a memorial. Row by row they stood, decked in black tuxedos, crooning "The Lord's Prayer" and "I Believe" in perfect harmony for a colleague who passed away recently at 94. Then it dawned on Bob Mahony, of Bellevue, a retired field engineer who, at 77, has been a barbershop singer for a half-century, mostly with the Seattle Seachordsmen:

"What is going to happen to this chapter?" he said. "We have got to get on the ball and get some new members." Often associated with mustachioed men in straw hats and striped vests, barbershop quartets are realizing they need new recruits to keep alive a fraternity whose members are collecting Social Security, or are about to. When about 200 singers from around the state gather at 7:30 tonight at Steel Lake Presbyterian Church in Federal Way, they want to show there's a lot of vibrancy and pizzazz in their performance.

"If you are singing in a chorus, you may be on the chorus riser for half an hour. That is a long stretch for people long in the tooth," Smith said. "Some will have to sit. There are chapters that have guys in wheelchairs." Their three-hour practices can be exhausting, but the men gather Mondays in Queen Anne to practice and to talk — because underneath the singing, Smith said, it's also a social club. They get together for dinners and ballgames and to chat about their grandchildren's college choices or how expensive college is now. They visit one another in hospitals and, when a member passes away, they sing at his funeral.

"Time and again, our studies show that they join for the music but stay for the fellowship," said Nau, of the national headquarters. The camaraderie is a major reason the society has such a devoted following. But guys getting together with other guys — a factor that made barbershop quartets popular for many who grew up during World War II — isn't necessarily a draw with younger generations. "People getting together in single-gender group" and singing "does not resonate like it used to," said Gage Averill, chairman of the music department at New York University and author of "Four Parts, No Waiting: A Social History of American Barbershop Harmony." More

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Home Theatre Magazine

Long before Ladysmith Black Mambazo became the voice of Lifesavers, 7-Up, and Sesame Street, it was the spiritual voice of a nation. For more than 30 years, the group has performed the traditional a cappella music of South Africa called isicathamiya, extracted from Zulu and Christian gospel music. The first U.S. release of new material since 1997 from Joseph Shabalala's 10-member choir, Raise Your Spirit Higher [Wenyukela] marks the 10-year anniversary of apartheid's end in South Africa.

The album's heavy emotional agenda inspires a message of hope, prayer, and peace. When the group sings in its native language on this hybrid disc's 5.1 high-resolution mix, the results are mesmerizing. After listening to "Wangibambezela (Message from His Heart)," my preference for a mid-hall seat in the surround mix went out the window. Martin Walters' mix puts you in the middle of the group; sudden whistling emerges from the left rear channel, a huff from the right, then a series of grunts and trills shoot back and forth as Shabalala's voice remains grounded in the center channel. More

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April 3, 2004

Daily Pennsylvanian

With enthusiastic standing-room-only crowds at its spring show barely a month ago and the release of a new CD, the all-male a cappella group Pennsylvania Six-5000 would seem to be a guaranteed act in next fall's Freshman Performing Arts Night, which showcases Penn's most popular groups. But following the group's removal last week from Penn's Performing Arts Council -- the umbrella organization that represents more than 40 campus groups -- that may not be the case.

The group's dismissal was not without warning. The move was the culmination of a series of events, prompted by Penn Six's repeated absences from monthly mandatory PAC meetings. In accordance with the PAC constitution, after missing two meetings, Penn Six was placed on probation, and then, following further absences, the group has finally lost its PAC recognition. "Penn Six isn't mad at PAC, and we're not complaining that we were treated unfairly," said Penn Six Business Manager and College freshman Ezra Billinkoff. "We know we broke the attendance rules, and we know we were wrong, but we were still pretty hard hit."

Although members of the group said they understand and accept the reasons for their removal, many members are frustrated because while their infraction was merely technical, they are being punished with the same severity as a group might be that had violated school policies or engaged in financial improprieties. "Losing PAC recognition, for whatever reason, means that the group won't be scheduled for any fall performances," Student Performing Arts Coordinator Ty Furman said. "They will lose all privileges that come with being a member of PAC." Among these privileges are the right to perform at some of Penn's prime concert venues, the right to take part in Freshman Performing Arts Night -- a vital recruiting event -- and most importantly, access to the group's PAC funding, which currently remains frozen.

"Their punishment seems really harsh," said one member of a PAC a cappella group. "I really don't think it's fair that they are losing so many important privileges for such a minor infraction of the rules." Penn Six members are hoping that the sympathy and support from other members of Penn's performing arts community will lead to the group's re-recognition when they apply to be reinstated into PAC at its general meeting next week. "I have no say in whether Penn Six will be re-recognized," Furman said. "PAC is a completely student-run organization, and the students have yet to determine whether they are going to readmit the group or not."

The remaining 40-odd performing arts groups and the PAC Executive Board will decide Penn Six's fate. Members of Penn Six are hoping to appeal to these students and guarantee their readmittance by demonstrating their renewed dedication to the council. "We're definitely ready to prove to the school that we'd like to recommit ourselves to Penn's performing arts community," Billinkoff said. "We're hoping to re-enter PAC in April with a new sense of dedication and involvement."

The PAC constitution also calls for groups on probation to perform community service if they apply for readmission, for which members of Penn Six say they are prepared. "We feel we're really ready for a new level of involvement in the community," Billinkoff said. But despite Penn Six's application for reinstatement, the group is not guaranteed readmission into PAC. A negative vote at the April 8 meeting would almost certainly bar Penn Six from further campus performances and access to its PAC budget allocation until the next opportunity for re-recognition arises at the end of the fall semester.

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April 2, 2004

New York Times

The choir at St. Thomas Church is composed of adult tenors, basses and countertenors and of boy sopranos who study at the church's own choir school. It produces a polished, powerful and beautifully balanced sound that for sacred music — particularly that of the Renaissance and Baroque, historically sung by all-male choirs — is about the best that New York has to offer. That is due largely to Gerre Hancock, the church's organist and choir director for the last 33 years. This year, Mr. Hancock is leaving the church, and New York, to teach at the University of Texas in Austin. He is not leaving immediately: he will direct Holy Week services, which at St. Thomas, on Fifth Avenue at 53rd Street, draw on the full history of sacred music.

But the performance of Handel's "Israel in Egypt" that Mr. Hancock led on Tuesday evening was his last public concert as a choral conductor at the church. These concerts have always reached well beyond the church's constituency, and Mr. Hancock's thoughtfully paced and vividly characterized performance of "Israel in Egypt" showed why. The choir was at its flexible best. It sang the text, which is taken from Exodus and a handful of Psalms, with complete clarity, and the boy sopranos produced a consistently pure, strong tone that was perfectly weighted against the adult voices. There is comparatively little music for solo voices in this narrative work, a cause for complaint in Handel's time, but not particularly an issue now.

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New York Philharmonic music director Lorin Maazel once said "conducting a Flummerfelt-prepared chorus is like driving a Rolls just back from the only honest garage in town." Joseph Flummerfelt, artistic director and principal conductor at Westminster Choir College of Rider University, has been recognized by critics and musicians as one of the world's greatest choral conductors. He will retire in June from the position he's held for 33 years.

Now on his final national concert tour, Flummerfelt will give his final tour performance on Saturday as part of Calvin College's Artist Series. Recently named 2004 Conductor of the Year by Musical America, Flummerfelt's career has included collaborations with a long list of eminent conductors, from Claudio Abbado and Leonard Bernstein to Wolfgang Sawallish and Zubin Mehta. "He's one of the most pre-eminent conductors in the country," said Pearl Shangkuan, music department chairwoman at Calvin College. More

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The vocal band SoVoSo performed at a benefit gala for Democratic
Presidential Candidate John F. Kerry at the Westin St. Francis in San
Francisco, CA. SoVoSo opened the evening's musical portion with a set of
their original material, followed by a performance by an All-Star band put
together by the Grateful Dead's Mickey Hart that included himself, Phil
Lesh, Billy Kreutzmann, Norton Buffalo, Ray Manzarek and Roy Rogers.

Posted by acapnews at 8:39 AM | Comments (0)

Newtown Bee

The a cappella band Ball in the House found its name in a Brady Bunch episode. "Remembered how [maid] Alice used to tell the kids not to throw the ball in the house?" band member Jon J asked with a wry grin. "That's how we got our name!" Fusing pop, blues, jazz, and hip-hop, Ball in the House brought down the house during their recent performances at Newtown Middle School and St Rose School, part of the district's ongoing cultural arts program.

With a sound reminiscent of the boy-band groups of the late 1990s, the five-member, all-male band, peppered their introductory lessons on vocal parts, harmony, and rhythm with infectious all-vocalized beats. Drummer Jon J taught students how to personify three basic beats - kick-drum, snare, and cymbal - through the pronunciation and delivery of different sounds. For example, he said, to create a snare sound, one can hiss "Pf" in razor-sharp staccato. Pairing the various sounds together create "drum patterns." More

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April 1, 2004

Yale Daily News

Following a tradition dating back to the late 1800s, when a cappella groups that frequented the restaurant were known as "Cups Men," Yale students are still singing for their supper at Mory's. But in recent years, singing groups have not been the only student organizations to frequent the venerable establishment. Currently, the majority of Yale's a cappella groups, sports teams, political parties, and multiple other student associations congregate around the old wooden tables at least once a year. The restaurant has been such a part of Yale history that the now famous Whiffenpoof song's opening lines immortalize it: "To the tables down at Mory's, to the place where Louis dwells, to the dear old Temple Bar we love so well."

The "Whiffs" began as a senior quartet that decided to take refuge in Mory's in 1909 to escape the cold New Haven winter and to earn some dinner at the same time. "We enjoyed singing too well to limit ourselves to public occasions," wrote an original member of the group, the Rev. James M. Howard '09, in his "Authentic Account of the Founding of the Whiffenpoofs." Mory's was only too glad to have the singers. "We began it one evening in January, 1909, and soon it became a habit to keep inviolate that weekly date: Mory's at six," Howard wrote.

The restaurant still profits from the Whiffenpoofs' tradition of singing for its supper every Monday. "Monday night is tough in the restaurant business -- most restaurants are closed -- but that is the night that the Whiffenpoofs sing and we are generally full," Mory's General Manager James Shumway said. Shumway also said that the staff particularly enjoys observing the development of the singing groups. "It is especially interesting to see the Whiffs and Whim 'n' Rhythm, the female senior a cappella group, come together and mature throughout the year," he said. Currently, Mory's also hosts many of the other a cappella groups on campus including Red Hot and Blue, the Spizzwinks(?) and the Duke's Men of Yale. More

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La Jolla Playhouse has announced its 2004 season, including the world premiere musical Jersey Boys, about the 1950s singing group the Four Seasons, with book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, music by Bob Gaudio, and direction by Des McAnuff (Sep. 28-Nov. 14).

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The 10th International Sacred Music Choir Competition 'Giovanni Pierluigi Da Palestrina', which will be celebrated in Fiuggi, Italy, from April 2 to 5, has published its new regulations. Addressed to male, female, mixed, youth and children choirs, the competition will take place in Fiuggi, a small one-hour east-southeast of Rome. The competition comprehends categories with and without compulsory piece, and a repertoire of only sacred a-cappella music must be presented which must include at least one piece of Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, one piece from the 19th century and one contemporary piece composed after 1920. More

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