September 29, 2006
Whitacre on NPR
Choral composer Eric Whitacre was interviewed by Tom Schnabel today on NPR. Listen to the show here.
September 28, 2006
Seraphic Fire celebrates fifth with panache
Miami Herald (FL)
William Billings was an American original, a pioneering colonial composer and one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. The text of the Billings' hymn Invocation gave Seraphic Fire its name. To celebrate its fifth anniversary, Miami's stellar chamber choir opened a wide-ranging program with two inspiring examples of Billings' hymnal on Sunday at Miami Beach Community Church.
The group's new venue proved ideal. Intimate and resonant, the sanctuary provided a welcoming environment for Patrick Dupree Quigley's eclectic programming. Under Quigley's superb direction, the 16-member choir turned from the iconoclasm of Billings' sacred anthems to the ethereal vocal imagery of I Have Had Singing by Sam Sametz.
Quigley's dedication to new music is visionary. Several seasons ago the Vespertine Symphony by Kevin Puts was given an impressive premiere by the New World Symphony. This young American composer's craftsmanship and gift for melody were equally evident in the Southeastern premiere of his choral work Knowledge. Written in Puts' trademark combination of impressionistic influences and Aaron Copland-style Americana, the score was trance-like in its spacious lyricism.
Ingram Marshall is one of America's new breed of cutting-edge creative artists. Hymnodic Delays was originally composed for four voices and electronically manipulated loops (and delays). Seraphic Fire soprano Suzanne Hatcher brilliantly transcribed the piece for a cappella chorus.
Marshall's four-movement score is rich, harmonically complex and hypnotic -- the artistic personification of originality and genius. Swept Away is a searing, dissonant portrait of death. Low Dutch, the work's reverent conclusion, is an uplifting reinvention of the 23rd Psalm.
Renaissance composer Tomas Luis de Victoria's Officium Defunctorum, (a 1605 requiem mass for the Dowager Empress of Spain) received its South Florida premiere. The powerful, deeply spiritual work engulfs the listener in its sheer beauty. This boldly original music is at once ancient, remarkably modern and timeless. Under Quigley's magnificent direction, the choir produced a multitude of exquisite choral vibrations. Orlando Gibbon's rousing O Clap Your Hands concluded an afternoon of choral transcendence.
September 27, 2006
Parents sound off about choir flap
Livingston Daily (MI):
While Howell Public Schools’ top administrator said he did not ask a German choir group to cut back religious songs in a recent performance at Howell High School, he said Monday that the district has rules that have to be followed regarding sacred music in choral performances. Superintendent Charles Breiner said he spoke with organizers of the Sept. 13 Voices of Heaven concert last spring, cautioning them about the potential for over-representing sacred music, but added that he had not had contact with the organizers or the group since then.
Those policies, meanwhile, are getting a mixed response from the public in the wake of the news that the visiting singers had trimmed religious music from their performance. Regardless of how or why the concert program was trimmed, Mark Hoornstra, parent of a Howell choir student, said Voices of Heaven was owed an apology from the school district because the impression the group was left with was not to sing sacred music.
Breiner said the policy wasn’t made overnight. “For at least the past 11 years, this question has been debated because some members — parents, students, staff — in our community have expressed dissatisfaction about the dominance of sacred text at certain choral concerts,” Breiner said. “Indeed, some of these concerts have featured 80 percent or more of selections of sacred text. This places the district in the position of failing to be religiously neutral.”
An arts committee in the district began meeting more than 10 years ago to address the issue, coming up with a maximum standard that caps sacred music at 30 percent of a performance, he added. “I think there has been somewhat of a misrepresentation of the district’s stance,” Breiner said. At no time, he said, was the Voices of Heaven concert “reviewed, modified or discouraged” by district administrators. If it was changed, Breiner added, it was done so by someone involved with the program. Voices of Heaven director Achim Plagge could not be reached Monday. The 62-member choir of 13-year-olds to 20-year-olds was brought to the school through an international exchange program run through the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Twin Lake.
Parents of students in the choir at Howell High School became irate with the district when Voices of Heaven was asked to scale back its program, cutting sacred music, which they said was made at the request of district administrators. The members of Voices of Heaven stayed with Howell choir families during their four-day stint in the area, and the Howell choir performed with the visiting group in portions of the concert. Diane Schenkel, the parent of two Howell choir students who also hosted two members of Voices of Heaven at her home, said the members of the guest choir felt “prejudiced” against by being asked to trim their program.
At Monday’s meeting of the Howell Public Schools Board of Education, several board members said they wouldn’t stand to have sacred or religious music eliminated entirely. “I feel very strongly about our music program,” said board Vice President Jeanne Clum. “I have never heard of our district not allowing Christian music. It’s just part of our policy to find a balance.”
Also at Monday’s meeting, some parents and community members in the audience said they supported the 30 percent limit on sacred music outlined in the policy. Others said the policy should be revisited. “I fear that this is watering down our music program,” said former school board candidate Jim Pratt. Vicki Fyke, member of the Livingston Organization for Values in Education, was dissatisfied that no one could tell her who had the concert program cut. “It didn’t come out of thin air,” she said. “Where does the buck stop?”
September 25, 2006
Review - Duwende
Cincinnati Citybeat (OH):
They're the only all "a cappella" band at MidPoint, but this six-member unit isn't doing Doo Wop or Barbershop music. Duwende are a legitimate Pop band, using their voices to make all of the sounds (drums and instruments included) on their albums and during their live shows. The group's CD Radio Screaming sounds as good as anything on Top 40 radio these days, mixing supercharged Hip Hop, funky, melodic Pop and heavenly R&B balladry. If no one told you in advance, you wouldn't notice the all-voice musicality of the band. But knowing makes it a more fascinating listen, and live they should be one of the more interesting acts to catch at MidPoint. Local hook: Duwende's baritone singer Geoffrey Barnes is originally from Cincinnati. Some bands say they rage against the machines; Duwende do it full-on by ignoring machines completely. Dig It: Bobby McFerrin cloned and dropped smack-dab into the middle of the 2006 Pop landscape.
Reviews - Concert relives fun of the '70s
Deseret News (UT):
Remember the '70s? Even if you don't, this weekend's program at the Utah Symphony is a fun blast from the past. Titled "Our '70s Show," the evening was about letting loose and having fun — featuring Rockapella, music from the '70s and some pretty corny humor.
In fact, this pops concert was slightly unusual in that the central theme — the '70s — was even more center stage than the guest artists (who usually dominate the spotlight). That isn't to say the Rockapella didn't "rock the stage" (so to speak) when the band was on; it was just more even-handed between featuring the symphony and featuring the group.
The concert started with the orchestra playing Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries," aka "Kill da Wabbit," and continued with music from "Star Wars," "The Godfather" and "A Chorus Line." The definite highlight of this part — and maybe even the concert — had nothing to do with the music, however. It was a picture (projected onto a screen at the back of the stage) of conductor Keith Lockhart at his high school prom, wearing a peach-colored tux with ruffles.
Then Rockapella took the stage with its five-man a cappella group. Although the musicians also featured music from the '70s, like "Shambala" (Three Dog Night), "Here Comes the Sun" (The Beatles), and "Philadelphia Freedom" (Elton John), the arrangements made the music very much their own with a strong soul/R&B flavor and a high-energy delivery.
In spite of the fact that it took all five of them to make the whole sound come together, it was George Baldi's bass (imitating a real electric bass) and Jeff Thacher's vocal drums (sounding uncannily like a real trap set) that stole the show. Following intermission, the orchestra came back for the overture to "Jesus Christ, Superstar," and a medley of TV themes from the '70s. This was paired with a slide show of images from the shows, which brought laughs of recognition and occasional light applause from the audience.
Rockapella took the stage again, featuring more distinctive arrangements of '70s tunes. Sonny and Cher's "The Beat Goes On" was particularly fun because the arrangement was written with the orchestra in mind, so they were able to include a back-and-forth "competition" between the orchestra and the singers.The program ended with a '70s sing-along that featured Lockhart going out into the audience and singing to audience members during "Feelings."
Salt Lake Tribune (UT):
Memo to Keith Lockhart: If you threw a "Baby Boomer Bash" every year, you probably could be elected mayor of this town. Lockhart and the Utah Symphony played a boatload of '70s tunes Friday, and the Abravanel Hall crowd went nuts - clapping, cheering and singing at the top of its lungs to hits like "Celebrate," "Margaritaville," "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" and, yes, "Feelings." Even the youngsters who know the songs only from late-night K-Tel commercials were hard-pressed to resist Lockhart's manic charm as he led the sing-alongs, dashed into the crowd to serenade audience members on "Feelings" and even put his high-school prom picture on the big screen for all to see.
As much love as the crowd showed the Utah Symphony music director, the five members of Rockapella earned even heartier cheers. If you've ever wondered what you'd get if you put the King's Singers in a blender with the Four Tops, your answer was onstage Friday, wowing listeners with shiny vocal harmonies and polished choreography. Vocal percussionist Jeff Thacher cq , basso profundo George Baldi III, tenor Kevin Wright, baritone John Brown and the de facto frontman, Owen Wilson lookalike Scott Leonard, showed off a remarkably full sound in their unaccompanied numbers and blended nicely with the orchestra in arrangements of "Philadelphia Freedom" and "The Beat Goes On."
Oddly enough, Rockapella did not perform its best-known hit, the theme song from "Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego" - the closest it came was the line "don't know much about geography" in "Wonderful World," which earned knowing chuckles from the crowd.
September 22, 2006
Honolulu Boy Choir saved by state grant
Honolulu Star Bulletin (HI):
The Honolulu Boy Choir is singing a happy tune over an award of state money that will cover the nonprofit organization's $150,000 annual budget. A contract awarded by the state Department of Human Services will be "a strong foundation" for the choir as it rebuilds, board Chairman Gary Saito said in an announcement yesterday.
The choir board sought and won the contract, available for a theatrical arts program for youngsters who could be at risk of dropping out of school or using drugs. "The boys are from 7 to 14, and that is the age where kids could end up at risk," said Saito. "It helped that we are trying to do a program available to kids statewide."
The choir was threatened earlier this year with being disbanded after 32 years as a fixture at public events, holiday concerts and conventions. The former board announced that it would shut down the organization after five years of financial struggles. The board granted a reprieve in May after families of the singers reorganized with a strategy for survival. They crafted a business plan that requires continuing fundraising to cover liability insurance, rental of storage and rehearsal space and salaries of the choral director, accompanist and executive director.
Saito said a call from Gov. Linda Lingle's office was one of the first offers of help when the threat of closing generated community support for the choir. "The state pointed us toward available grants and contracts."
Saito was elected chairman of the new 12-member board, which includes two choir alumni. The old board resigned in May to make way for new members with new energy. The exact amount of the state contract will be announced at a Monday ceremony at Makiki Christian Church, the choir's home base. Saito said the board was informed it "is in the neighborhood of $150,000."
"It gives us a big breathing space without worrying about making ends meet," he said. The choir continues to seek contributions from individuals and corporations. "We will try to build up financial security. We are looking forward to re-establishing the whole system."
There is also a drive to increase the numbers in the ranks. The choir is down to 30 singers from a peak of nearly 100. With the threat of closing, some parents withdrew their sons from the choir, Saito said, and in the past few months 12 boys "graduated" as they reached the age of voice change. The choir does not charge boys tuition. Meanwhile, the choir's busy season approaches. The choir usually is booked for at least 25 performances between Thanksgiving and early January, Saito said.
September 21, 2006
Voskresnije Vocal Ensemble
The Somerset Mercury (UK
A Russian choir will be performing songs from the underground at a show in Cheddar Caves and Gorge. Dressed in colourful Cossack costumes, the Voskresnije Vocal Ensemble will sing in the quarter-mile long Gough's Cave on October 7.
Russian tea, vodka, boiled eggs, wine and coffee will be available for visitors. Tickets cost £12.50 and can be bought by calling 01934 742343.
This sounds like a lot of fun!!
September 20, 2006
Rockapella - Music's Swiss Army knife
Deseret News (UT):
Closing your eyes, it's hard to imagine that all those sounds are coming from the human voice. But with the five-man a cappella group Rockapella, that's exactly the case. And much of that is thanks to Jeff Thacher, who does the "mouth drums." "I am the percussion instrument," Thacher explained.
Rockapella will bring its sound to the Utah Symphony next weekend when they join with conductor Keith Lockhart for a concert. "We so look forward to it," Thacher said, "because every time we play Utah, we meet with a great response of people. They really seem to enjoy what we have to offer. And of course, if you put that with something really interesting and different, like an orchestra and an a cappella group together, then you can't lose."
Thacher said the group has just come off of a "deliciously fun tour" with the Boston Pops (also with Lockhart), which included performances at Ravinia, Tanglewood, Symphony Hall in Boston and the Fourth of July celebration at the Boston Esplanade — which he said was "quite something." "It's half a million people — and that's probably just what's on the grass, not counting the TV broadcast. You have professional cameras shooting you for TV, so it's this swirling bit of entertainment with a lot of really high security."
The program played on the tour, he said, was similar to the program scheduled for Salt Lake City. It's a mix of several original songs, arrangements of other songs and two additional songs that were created exclusively for the orchestral shows — fun 1960s and '70s songs, such as "Rock the Boat," "Shambala" and "Here Comes the Sun," with an overall '70s theme. "There's a little give and take between each group," Thacher said, "but each group has something that the other doesn't, so it works out nicely. We also do a few things on our own, so the audience gets a feel for what we're about, then we do things together with the orchestra, and of course, the orchestra does things on their own."
Recently, Rockapella has become known for appearing on the PBS children's program "Carmen Sandiego" for five years. For a time, he said, the group's voices were also heard in "the homes of America" with a well-known Folgers TV ad, as well as national morning shows and "countless" local TV appearances. "We're quite comfortable in front of the camera," Thacher said, "in fact, perhaps too comfortable sometimes. But I think Rockapella translates well between live and camera and studio, so we're sort of the Swiss army knife of music."
Thacher has been with the group since 1993. None of the current singers — Thacher, Scott Leonard, Kevin Wright, John Brown, and George Baldi — was part of the original group, however. "We've always had great musicians in the group, but we've evolved into a much more dynamic touring act. We tour America and Asia, and we have our own original material on our albums. And as that developed, our group became more and more defined, and groovy — to use a slightly outdated word. "It definitely locked into this very rhythmic, high-power, high-energy sound that was there to some degree beforehand, but I think it really came into its own in, I'd say, the late '90s, early 2000s."
September 18, 2006
Hyannis Sound shares its talents
Martinsville Bulletin (VA)
Beginning with the sopranos, then moving up until the altos, tenors and basses were included, the concert choir at Martinsville High School joined a cappella group Hyannis Sound in a vocal exercise on Friday. Eventually, a beautiful harmony filled the choral room, even though the words sounded like “mi may my mo moo.”
“Cool. Great job guys,” said one of the 10 members of the all-male group from Cape Cod, Mass. The group of college students from around the country also performed for and worked with high school groups at Bassett and Magna Vista High schools and Carlisle School on Friday, and presented a public concert Saturday at Patrick Henry Community College. At Martinsville High School Friday, the students learned warm-up exercises, such as vibrating their lips, and heard Hyannis Sound perform a cappella versions of several songs, such as K.T. Tunstall’s “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree” and the Ojays “Love Train.”
Hyannis Sound members also talked the students into performing for them, singing a version of “The Star Spangled Banner” to piano accompaniment from Choral Director Cynthia Breckenridge. They received enthusiastic applause for their performance. The performances were a homecoming of sorts for Paul Toms III, who is from Martinsville. He said the MHS students welcomed the group. “They all seemed pretty enthusiastic,” said Toms, the son of Paul and Debbie Toms of Martinsville and a senior at Boston University. “It’s a lot of fun.”
Rob Powers, a member of Hyannis Sound from Plymouth, Mass., spoke to the students about how members audition for a spot on the group’s rotating roster of 10. Members stay together over the summers, performing a number of concerts. He also talked about how performance is almost as important as singing ability. Hyannis Sound performs the same material over multiple shows, he said, so its members try to do something different each time to keep things interesting. “That’s just a huge part of it,” he said.
After the performance, the students asked a few questions about how the group works. Members responded that about 80 to 100 people audition for the 10 spots and no, even though some of them tried out for “American Idol,” none were lucky enough to be televised. They also encouraged the students to keep singing and participating in gospel choirs. Brother and sister Colin Welch, a freshman, and Lauren Welch, a senior, said they enjoyed hearing the concert and learning the vocal exercises. They said there was at least one new one that they expected would be added to their lessons.
“It inspired us to do better,” Colin Welch said of singing before the a cappella group. Junior Andrea Martin also said she enjoyed the program and how the group let the students sing. Breckenridge said the group was “fabulous. It was really good for the kids to hear pop songs done a cappella. “It was a good experience for them,” she said.
September 14, 2006
Just Another Medieval Quartet Crossing Over
New York Times (NY):
They seem like siblings or lovers, they interrupt one another so naturally. The women of Anonymous 4 are neither. Vocal precision and complicated harmonies aside, these women are remarkably unruly in conversation.
“Rumors of our disbanding were greatly exaggerated,” Marsha Genensky said. “Disband is a great news word,” Susan Hellauer said, and continued talking. “Musica Antiqua Köln is actually disbanding,” Johanna Maria Rose said, speaking over Ms. Hellauer and referring to another early-music ensemble.
Such discord is nowhere evident in the singing of Anonymous 4, which, with the release this week of “Gloryland,” an album of traditional American folk music, has again left behind the medieval chants that brought it critical praise and a following well beyond fans of classical music.
The four middle-aged women — three American-born and one, Ms. Horner, from Northern Ireland — were seated in a chilly radio station in Lower Manhattan, in garb less formal than the long dresses of their pre-Americana concert days. Ms. Horner wore a black lace top and swapped puns with Ms. Hellauer, in colored eyeglasses and jeans. Ms. Genensky, who had on black slacks and matching Keds, had let her hair down. To her waist. Ms. Rose, in a denim jacket, was the most subdued. Then again, she was fighting a migraine.
In 2004 the group announced it was not splitting up so much as pursuing individual interests. The women wanted more time for solo work, family and relationships, and Ms. Genensky’s move to California complicated the rehearsal schedule. After nearly two decades of 40-hour rehearsal weeks and months spent touring in the United States and abroad, they decided to come together only for special projects.
“Gloryland” is a return to the exploration of Americana they began before their hiatus. Their 2004 album, “American Angels,” surprised many when it rose to No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Classical Albums chart; it remained on the chart for 76 weeks, selling more than 80,000 copies.
How does an album categorized as Americana top the classical chart? It seems no one was sure how else to categorize an a cappella group known primarily for medieval fare. Then again, what exactly is Americana? Even Jeff Green, executive director for the Americana Music Association, finds the category nebulous. “Generally, people are referring to alternative country when they talk about Americana,” he said, “but because it has bluegrass, some folk, blues, Texas swing, country, rock. There’s a lot of diversity. It’s a hodgepodge, a melting pot of American roots music.”
For Anonymous 4, at least, Americana is folk songs, religious ballads, gospel hymns and shape-note singing. Shape-note singing originated in the early 1800’s to teach congregations of mostly unskilled singers how to sing the same notes by sight. The term refers to the shape assigned each syllable associated with a pitch: fa (triangle), sol (circle), la (rectangle) and mi (diamond). There is a medieval link: Guido d’Arezzo, an 11th-century Benedictine monk, is said to have invented six syllables to teach sight-singing. And that gave Anonymous 4 a hook.
“Its harmonic context reminded me of the medieval stuff,” Ms. Genensky said. But the group’s shape-note singing is not like the rough-hewn music audiences may recall from the soundtrack to the movie “Cold Mountain.” “When I first heard the shape note recordings, I ran screaming,” Ms. Horner said. “It’s a gutteral sound, very raw.”
Beth E. Levy, a musicologist at the University of California, Davis, said the group’s polished vocals might give pause to some who know the form. “If you stop to think about it, it’s more than a little ironic to hear Anonymous 4 singing with such exquisite shaping and diction the solfège syllables (fa-sol-la),” she wrote in an e-mail message. “But if you don’t stop to think about it, then it’s just that glorious, quasi-cathedral sound that we all love.”
With “Gloryland,” on which many songs are accompanied by traditional stringed instruments, the four seem to be capitalizing on the interest in Americana that has continued to grow since their last album. It started with the rootsy soundtrack to the 2000 film “O Brother, Where Art Thou?,” which won two Grammy Awards and sold millions. Today about 70 radio stations play music they define as Americana. (The most played artists last week were Todd Snider, Johnny Cash and Old Crow Medicine Show.) “This term wasn’t on the radar several years ago,” Mr. Green said. “Now it’s got a Grammy category, and more radio stations are programming it.”
The members of Anonymous 4 will try to woo station programmers with their first appearance at the Americana Music Conference this month, before their fall tour. “We and others are in the midst of a moment,” Ms. Hellauer said. “The distinctions are starting to fall apart,” Ms. Genensky said. “Before, Amazon didn’t know how to double-market us.” “We used to call it old-timey music,” Ms. Rose said. “Ye Olde Music,” Ms. Horner said.
Anonymous 4 came together in New York in 1986. The group’s first performance was an informal concert for a dozen people. Critics often refer to Ms. Horner as a recent addition but she replaced a founding member, Ruth Cunningham, in 1998. The name is a wink to music theorists: Anonymous IV was the name scholars assigned to the unknown author of a significant 13th-century treatise. Its debut, “An English Ladymass” (1992), and each of its next 15 releases on Harmonia Mundi have appeared in the Top 15 on Billboard’s Top Classical Albums chart. Total sales are nearly 1.4 million.
Although they usually collaborate on an equal footing, Ms. Genensky has taken the lead on the Americana albums. Because she now lives in Menlo Park, Calif., and the others in different cities in New York State, Ms. Genensky mailed her “Gloryland” arrangements in advance to reduce rehearsal time. Once in rehearsals, the women reverted to their leaderless habits, experimenting with bending pitch and altering phrasing and color to make the sound their own. Decisions were made by consensus. “Or fisticuffs,” Ms. Rose said, in a joke belying their harmoniousness.
Sweeten the band...
Ueberschall updates its Liquid Instruments Series of virtual instrument plug-ins with The Voice, Vol. 2 ($199), featuring a cappella, non-verbal male and female vocal phrases suitable for pop, dance and R&B styles. The Voice, Vol. 2 is available in Audio Units, RTAS and VST formats.
The software offers users the ability to edit individual voices independently of the other parts and create ad-libs, harmonic structures and chord progressions.
Each vocal phrase is dubbed eight times by two singers (male and female), creating eight distinct tracks per vocal phrase. The Voice, Vol. 2 contains melodic vocal lines that range from simple to sophisticated.
Vocal samples for The Voice, Vol. 2 were recorded dry at 24-bits, without additional effects or filters. Each volume contains 300 vocal phrases (2,400 vocal loops), requiring 3GB of hard disk space. More information
September 12, 2006
Whiffs to sing on ‘Gilmore Girls’
Yale Daily News (CT):
Television audiences will see Rory Gilmore - of the CW primetime drama "Gilmore Girls" - through her senior year at Yale this season, and 14 Yalies involved in one real-life senior tradition will make an appearance on the show.
Yale's Whiffenpoofs, the all-male, all-senior a cappella group, will be featured in an upcoming episode of the show, Whiffenpoofs members said Sunday. Business Manager Mark Wittman '07 said the group's appearance, which will be its second on the show, is still in the preliminary stages of planning. A script will be made available to the group today, so no details about the plot were available at press time, but the a cappella members said their latest star turn has been a long time coming.
"We've worked with [the show] in the past and so we've been in touch with them since our last performance," Wittman said. "The producers are very excited about the opportunity." The Whiffenpoofs were featured on "Gilmore Girls" in November 2003 during the show's fourth season in a Harvard-Yale tailgate setting. Group members that year were flown out to the show's set on the west coast, where they had to feign chills in the Californian heat.
"I'm really excited," Whiffenpoofs member Glenton Davis '07 said. "Our year is very special. We're really close as people and this is a great opportunity to share the work that we've done with each other musically." Davis has toured the "Gilmore Girls" set previously as part of the Alley Cats - a Yale a cappella jazz group - but said the opportunity to meet the cast and appear on the show will set this visit well apart.
Whiffenpoofs members said the show could help raise their profile, but some members also said the show has a lot to gain from the exchange. "It's a reason to watch 'Gilmore Girls' when it comes out," Whiffenpoof member Jared Schwede '07 said. Monica Wood '09, who said she has been a fan of the show since high school, said she expects the Whiffenpoofs' television appearance to help attract applicants by highlighting one of Yale's many high-profile extracurricular activities.
"Yale gets a lot of good exposure from the show," Wood said. "I didn't know much about [Yale] before applying, but seeing it on the show inspired me to look into it." Other "Gilmore Girls" plotlines in recent seasons have focused on a variety of Yale institutions - including Rory's election as editor-in-chief of the Yale Daily News.
Aside from "Gilmore Girls", the Whiffs have also been featured on the fictional political drama "The West Wing" and were invited to perform at the White House in 2003. Every summer they embark on a 13-week world tour, which in the past has taken the group from Las Vegas to Beirut to Kilimanjaro. This summer's tour is still in the planning stages.
September 6, 2006
West Coast Summit tickets now on sale
The plans are coming together for this year's West Coast A Cappella Summit and tickets are now available for sale. The original and largest event of it's kind the Summit is known for featuring a variety of top notch a cappella groups and lumineries in the field with classes, workshops, seminars and of course plenty of performances.
Headlining the Saturday night concert will be Vox One and M-Pact with many other great groups performing including Three 5 and 6, Out on a Clef, Richter Scales, Cloud 9, Underage, High Five, Topaz Blue and more TBA.
Always lots of fun and a great opportunity to meet both the performers and other a cappella fans the event will be held on Saturday November 11 at Angelica Hall, Dominican University, San Rafael, California. For the very best seats be sure to buy your tickets early! Click here for more info
September 2, 2006
Big change announced for the Real Group
After 22 years with concerts around the world, recordings and many unforgettable experiences together, The Real Group announces that, after Christmas, they will continue with a new member, Johanna Nyström. Johanna has been the "permanent substitute" of the RG for the last 12 years.
Margareta Bengtson (formerly Jalkéus) says:
"It is time to move on after 22 fantastically fun years with The Real Group. For a couple of years I have had the urge to relate musically to other instruments, since the a cappella format is so special and demanding. I find it amazing that Real Group still keeps the banner flying, and like true vocal missionaries sail on towards new unexplored islands in the marvellous world of vocal art, together with Johanna Nyström." This fall Margareta will sing with the group as planned (except for the trips to Japan) and her last concert with the RG will take place in South Korea in December.
Margareta has just finished her first solo project, a CD called "I'm Old Fashioned", that will be released by EMI October 25.
During the years, Johanna Nyström has grown into the group. It is a natural step for her, and for the original members, that she becomes a permanent member. Her experiences cover a wide spectrum of Swedish music life, having worked with artists from various genres, as, for example: Max Martin, Eric Ericson's Chamber Choir, Anders Eljas, Tommy Körberg, Tomas di Leva, Kroumata."
Good luck to Johanna as those are mighty big shoes to fill.
September 1, 2006
Jack Black does it a cappella
Here's Jack Black singing a cool a cappella promo for the Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards show he hosted. Jeremy Lipkin, a long-time member of the a cappella group The ExBoyfriends, is a writer at Nickelodeon and is the one who first pitched the idea. Good job!
Midsomer Murders -- Death in Chorus
Hollywood Reporter (CA):
The 50th episode of the popular nine-year-old English village green detective series "Midsomer Murders" involves DCI Tom Barnaby (John Nettles) in a heinous plot involving competing parish church choirs.
The cozy settings, quaint characters and leisurely pace of the 'Midsomer' series are, of course, the prime reasons for its popularity, along with the reliably familiar regulars.
Nettles is joined in the anniversary show by his beloved wife Joyce (Jane Wymark), daughter Cully (Laura Howard) and pathologist Dr. Bullard (Barry Jackson), plus Jason Hughes as Barnaby's right-hand man, DC Ben Jones.
There's the usual rich assortment of odd and eccentric country folk including a couple of rival conductors, each determined that his choir should win the upcoming choral competition. When one of the choristers is found dead, some murky practices involving local landowners and an expert forger of fine art gradually come to light.
DC Jones turns out to be a pretty good tenor and a perfect substitute for the murder victim, as Mrs. Barnaby, who is in the choir, quickly observes.
With a tuning fork found at a crime scene, birdwatchers lurking in the church graveyard at night, and the intricacies of mobile telephones all there to complicate his life, Barnaby takes his sweet time in solving yet another murder case while DC Jones, of course, does the running about.
I have been watching this show on and off for years and quite enjoy it however most all the eposodes are set in the same quaint little English village which means by now, after 50 episodes pretty much everybody in the village has either been murdered or are the muderers. A more dangerous place to live than Bagdad!!