July 28, 2007
Ladysmith sings the ABC
With two young ones I find myself watching some kid's programming, something of course I never used to do. Well imagine my surprise when I suddenly saw this fabulous Sesame Street number featuring Ladysmith Black Mambazo singing the alphabet along with Kermit and the Muppets. Do check this out as I think it is just delightful.
July 25, 2007
ACDA president Gene Brooks dies
Long-time National Executive Director of the American Choral Directors Association Dr. Gene Brooks died on Saturday, July 21. Funeral arrangements, obituary and condolence information available from the ACDA website .
Winning hymn focused on congregation, not choir
Anglican Journal, (Canada):
Anglican musician Jane Best was a winner last June in a hymn competition centered on an unusual area – songs for congregation unaccompanied by instruments or choir.
In the world of church music, the big shots are usually the organist and choir, while the congregation rumbles along as best it can, peering at a hymnal or up at the lyrics projected on a wall or screen.
Pepperdine University, based in Malibu, Calif., chose to focus on congregational singing in a hymn competition organized in conjunction with a June 4-7 conference on a cappella (unaccompanied) church singing.
Eight winners were chosen from 192 entries, among them Ms. Best’s Walk in Newness of Life, inspired by a motto chosen by Bishop Ron Ferris for his diocese of Algoma, which stretches along the northern shore of the Great Lakes. One criterion for the competition entries was that “the average congregation with some practice or familiarity can sing (the hymn) with general success.”
“I wrote the song to support the motto and my congregation sang it, so I knew it worked in my congregation,” said Ms. Best in an interview. Based on Manitoulin Island, Ont., which is in the northern end of Lake Huron, she is music director at All Saints Anglican church in Gore Bay.
Being among the contest winners was ”very exciting and a surprise, because it’s quite a simple song,” she said. The prize was an expenses-paid trip to the conference, called The Ascending Voice , held on Pepperdine’s scenic campus overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
“There were very, very inspiring sessions. We did Roman Catholic chant and Greek Byzantine chant. There was a quartet from Russia. Every a cappella worship tradition was represented,” said Ms. Best, estimating that a couple of hundred people attended the event, some from as far away as Italy, New Zealand and Great Britain. Ms. Best was the only Canadian among the competition winners, the rest of whom were American. In Canada, she said, she often attends the 38-year-old Summer Institute for Church Music, held in Whitby, Ont.
Music leaders sometimes don’t pay attention to congregational singing, but speakers and workshop leaders “said to go home and really respect your congregation and ask them to sing meaningfully, to get used to the sound of each others’ voices,” she said.
She also said she found the ecumenical aspect of the meeting to be inspiring. “There was a real sense of being in God’s presence – all these people trying to sing each other’s music. There were two sessions on Anglican liturgy and everybody really participated. It was very touching,” she said. The winning hymns were sung at an evening concert. “There were about 300 people there. It was a big sound and it felt great,” she said.
July 23, 2007
The Fault Lines gets to the Finals
Ithaca Journal (NY):
A brand-new a cappella singing group from Ithaca is gaining national attention and is in the running to win $1 million. The Fault Line made the top 20 in NBC's “America's Got Talent” only months after recording its first seven-song CD in October and playing a few local gigs, including an April show at Cornell University and Ithaca Festival in June. The group was also named champion and the audience favorite of the 2007 New York Regional Harmony Sweepstakes.
The five-man vocal ensemble will appear again, on the next segment showing locally at 8 p.m. Tuesday, July 24 on NBC. The following Tuesday, July 31, the 20 contestants will be narrowed down to 10. The band will get $1 million if they win.
The Fault Line morphed from another a cappella group called Sons of Pitches, which emerged from Ithaca College. In addition to touring, Sons of Pitches played locally at the Grassroots Festival of Music and Dance in Trumansburg several years ago and at the Clemens Center in Elmira.
According to its Web site, The Fault Line's lineup is baritone and vocal percussionist Justin Adams, (identified at his myspace profile as a Cohoes, N.Y. native), tenor Jeff Bratz (his myspace profile says he's from Elk River, Minn.), tenor Adam Decker and bass singer Matt Olmstead, all identified as former members of Sons of Pitches, along with tenor Josh Logan.
This ensemble sounds like a band without the band. Without seeing them live, most listeners wouldn't know the difference. They make music without any instruments except their voices, bodies and microphones.
Vocal techniques beyond just singing have been employed by an array of traditions, from African to Celtic. Today, in hip hop music, beat boxing uses mouth sounds in place of drums and drum machines. The Fault Line covers '50s early rocker Bill Haley & His Comets, modern acts like Fall Out Boy and The Used and performs originals.
An earlier incarnation of Sons of Pitches — Tommy Morris, Eric Toyama, Ryan James, Ross Mizrahi and James Wheal — performed in a 2005 production of Shakespeare's “As You Like It” at the Hangar Theatre in Ithaca. The play's director, Kevin Moriarty, called Sons of Pitches “as funny and likable in real life as they are on stage.”
The Fault Line's competition on “America's Got Talent” includes other bands, from rockabilly to Bollywood, a woman who sings and does beat boxing, acrobats and father-daughter animal trainers. If The Fault Line makes the top 10, the two-part live season finale performances of “America's Got Talent” will air from 8-9:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 14 eastern time. The $1 million winner is scheduled to be revealed at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 21 eastern time.
Whether they win the $1 million, you never know when your barista could be a star. According to Entertainment Weekly, the band members live in Ithaca, and one member works at a coffee shop while the others have been doing odd jobs around town.
A cappella singers really have been doing very well lately in various big-time competitions and congratulations and good luck the Fault Line. Please help the guys and be sure to vote for them after Tuesday's show!!
July 22, 2007
Scientist wants to create first internet choir.
University of Manchester (UK):
Dr Barry Cheetham, a senior lecturer in The School of Computer Science at The University of Manchester, is seeking to combine his academic expertise in communications, networks and digital signal processing with his love of choral singing.
He is looking for funding to drive forward a project that will bring together amateur and semi-professional singers across Europe for seamless and polished live performances. But to make this possible he will have to address the limitations of existing communications networks. New 'ultra broadband' networks will be needed, capable of delivering sound and images with far less delay than services like Internet telephony and video conferencing currently achieve. If there is too much delay, the 'real time' interactive experience of singing in a choir will not be achieved.
The voices travelling down the wires will need to be processed and digitised quickly to achieve the required high sound quality. The voices will also need to be accurately merged to give the impression all the singers are together in one concert hall.
Other challenges include discovering how a conductor can control and rehearse a choir made up of people in different locations and how singers can be made to feel as if they are interacting with fellow performers.
The planned study will focus on classical and popular choral music, hymns and carols. It could include schools, church choirs and congregations of any denomination. At the moment there are no plans to include professional orchestras and Internet-based rock and pop bands in the study, as even lower levels of delay are likely to be required.
Dr Cheetham, who works in the Advanced Processor Technology (APT) Research Group, has been a keen choral singer for about ten years and sings first bass in The University of Manchester Chorus and also the Holmfirth Choral Society. Dr Cheetham said: "We are hoping to establish online collaborations between choirs within Europe. The dream is to contribute to the integration of people living in the European community. "The geographical distances and the speed of electrical transmission lead us to believe the low delay needed may be achievable within Europe but not further afield.
"There are a vast number of choral societies throughout Europe, many of which have very high standards. Some support professional orchestras such as the Halle Orchestra in Manchester. "These societies are an important part of the fabric of European life and provide an enjoyable and worthwhile activity for ordinary people, young and old, wealthy or otherwise. "This project has the potential to bring European people together and the possibility of doing this electronically to form a choir is exciting and worthwhile. Enabling older and disabled people to participate in the activity is also one of our goals.""
The type of super-fast low delay broadband network needed for the study is currently being delivered for some limited applications - and Dr Cheetham hopes ambitious initiatives such as the Virtual Choir will drive the future development of Internet communications.
July 20, 2007
Mount Rushmore a cappella
Great silliness on YouTube. University of Maryland all-male a cappella group, the UMD Generics sing with the Presidents!
July 18, 2007
Congratulations to Sei Ottavi who won first place in the recent Solevoci contest in Italy. The month-long Festival also included concerts by The Swingle Singers and Vocal Sampling. The vocal camp with guest artist Kirby Shaw is still to be held from July 28th thru August 4.
Sound of an era long gone
Daily Telegraph (UK):
With its setting for up to 60 voice-parts, Alessandro Striggio’s Missa “Ecco sì beato giorno” warrants a sizeable crowd to listen to it, and, perhaps thanks to widespread advance publicity, that is certainly what it got at Tuesday’s late night Prom.
This was a major achievement for Davitt Moroney, the scholar who discovered the manuscript, after a quarter of a century looking for it, in Paris’s Bibliothèque Nationale, and who conducted this first performance after a passage of perhaps more than four centuries.
The full forces of the BBC Singers, the Tallis Scholars and His Majesty’s Sagbutts and Cornetts were deployed in an experience of enveloping Renaissance richness.
With Thomas Tallis’s famous 40-part motet “Spem in alium” (conducted by Peter Phillips) in the same programme, similarities were apparent in the sheer opulence of sonority, though there were also differences in Striggio’s comparatively unadventurous harmonic palette and in the way that Tallis seems to exploit much more pointedly the soloistic potential of the individual vocal lines, together with their aptitude for creating those pungent note-clashes, or “false relations”.
But the impact of both pieces, as well as a motet by Striggio and a motet and Magnificat by Tallis, was immense, and the pitting of choral groups one against the other a thing of visceral excitement.
July 16, 2007
Mortal Kombat a cappella
Watch this impromptu a cappella "performance art" when UC Berkeley's DeCadence came across a couple of guys sparring in New York's Central Park and decided to perform music from the video game Mortal Kombat.
Swingles at the Proms
Congratulations to the Swingle Singers whose performance at The Proms of Luciano Berio "Sinfonia" with the Academy Of Santa Cecilia was very well received. Music critic Ian Hewitt of The Daily Telegraph said of the Swingles that they "pitched those mysterious lovely chords with laser-like precision" and the audience reacted enthusiastically. Hear their performance and all the rest of the Proms on the BBC Radio 3 web site.
July 14, 2007
Floating a cappella - choir sings on water
On a boiling hot day here in California nothing looks more inviting to me, an expat Englishman, then this video of a cappella singing in punts on the river Cam. The Trinity College Choir, Cambridge floats serenely as they sing Eric Whitacre's "Water Night" accompanied by the singing birds while swans and geese swim by creating, for me, a truly idyllic setting. I grew up not far from Cambridge and have gone punting many times and have such fond memories of this river. Here is a description of the event from the person who shot the video.
"The singing was wonderful, but the fact that it took place on the backs made it even more beautiful. I can't imagine something like this happening anywhere else in the world. Say what you will about Oxbridge culture; it still has the power to inspire. Swans and geese swam by at the evening went on. As twilight approached they illuminated the punts with strings of lights. As if all of this weren't enough, for the finale they set off from the banks with a punter at each corner of the five-punt flotilla and slowly floated around the bend in the river. They stopped just as they were about to go out of sight and performed an encore. They disappeared as the song ended. Magical."
July 11, 2007
Disney looking for choirs to perform
’Tis the season for Disney to finalize its search for choirs to perform at this year’s Candlelight Processional and Massed Choir Program at Epcot at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. Each year hundreds of student choirs from around the country come to harmoniously spread holiday cheer from Nov. 24 to Jan. 1.
“The Candlelight Processional has become an important part of the holidays for my choir,” said Fritzie Wise, choral director Tuscola High School (N.C.), whose honors chorus has performed two consecutive years and is scheduled to perform again in 2007. “We love being part of a Christmas tradition that is so meaningful. We come to Disney World and perform in something that gives us joy in singing wonderful music and brings my students together in a way that nothing else could.”
High school, college, university, church and community choirs can apply to be part of this holiday tradition that has been an entertainment staple at Walt Disney World for more than 25 years. The beautiful and inspirational narration of the Christmas story features glimmering light displays, an enchanted “Winter Wonderland” setting and the powerful refrains of a massed choir performing with the Walt Disney World orchestra and the world-renown Voices of Liberty singers. Celebrity narrators add to the drama of the event while creating a once-in-a-lifetime performance opportunity for participants.
The choirs perform 13 holiday arrangements. In addition to offering a challenging and educational experience for the singers, these unique Disney arrangements enhance their repertoire. The performers also enjoy a pre-performance rehearsal with the guest conductor and professional Disney singers.
The Candlelight Processional is one of several extraordinary enhancements that make Epcot a magical place to visit during the holidays. Other beloved traditions include holiday customs from around the globe, international storytellers, a nightly tree-lighting ceremony featuring Disney characters, and a stunning display of snow-white and colored lights. For more information on performing, call (800) 503-0662 or click here.
July 8, 2007
Barbershop's newest Champs!
Greg Clancy (tenor), Tony DeRosa (lead), Gary Lewis (baritone) and Jeff Oxley (bass) of Max Q took top honors tonight in Denver by winning this year’s Barbershop International Quartet Competition. The members can add these medals to their very impressive collection as Tony sang baritone in the 1992 International Champion Quartet, Keepsake and the 2001 Champs, Platinum. Gary was the first person to win a collegiate gold medal with The Real Deal and go on to win SPEBSQSA International gold with Platinum. Jeff owns two barbershop quartet gold medals, winning with the Rapscallions in 1984 and Acoustix in 1990, six gold medals with the Vocal Majority, and one gold medal as musical director of California's Masters of Harmony Chorus.
Plus there was great excitement in the chorus competition as there was a very rare tie for first place between the Westminster Chorus and The Ambassadors of Harmony. Barbershop Society rules state that when there is a tie the win goes to the group that garnered the most votes in the Singing category meaning that the 2007 International Chorus champions are The Westminster Chorus. Congratulations to all.
Here are the top five finalists in both categories:-
1. Max Q
2. OC Times
3. Storm Front
4. State Line Grocery
1. Westminster Chorus
2. Ambassadors of Harmony
3. Sound of the Rockies
4. Northern Lights
5. New Tradition
July 7, 2007
Reality TV takes on a cappella (in Vietnam)
Filming for a new television series centred around the real life stories of one of Viet Nam’s favourite pop groups, AC&M, is set to begin by the end of this month.
Director of the 25-episode series My Khanh said the show, to be screened on HCM City television, is the first in Viet Nam to use the lives of a pop band to propel the plot. "It is based on real stories of each member. We will be focusing on vocalist’s lives, their passions and daily trials," the director said.
The series, named A Capella, takes its name from the Italian term used to describe the type of singing that has made the band famous – voices unaccompanied by instruments. On this all important theme AC&M leader Thuy Vu commented: " A Cappella is new to Vietnamese audiences in general. This is a good opportunity to make it more popular."
According to Vu, band members were getting ready for action at the HCM City Theatre, and Cinema College, where they were undergoing training. "It’s a new field for us that we want to explore," the singer said.
Acting is just another string to the bow of the dynamic group who are planning to release two more albums whilst filming the TV series. One, written by composer Thanh Tam, is dedicated to traditional Vietnamese music whereas the other, produced with composer Duc Tri is more in line with classical sounds. Also on the agenda for the busy singers, is a two-night show in California in the US in October.
AC&M have been on the Vietnamese music scene since 2002 when four humble graduates from HCM City’s Conservatory of Music: Dinh Bao, Hoang Bach, Nam Khanh and Thuy Vu, wowed audiences with their angelic harmonies. Particularly memorable among the band’s initial performances was the traditional Vietnamese song, Co La (Graceful Stork) and the English Christmas carol, Away in a Manger.
Since then, the band has released three albums: AC&M Vol1, Xin Chao (Hello) and Dem Nay Co Mua Roi (It’s Raining Tonight). In addition, each member has taken the opportunity to release their own albums. Amongst the awards crowding the foursome’s prize cabinet are Viet Nam’s 2003 Best Song award, and Best Band in Viet Nam for both 2004 and ’05. Recently, the band was awarded the title of Most Stylish Artist of the Year as voted by the Viet Nam Fashion Design Institute and Mode magazine
More Vietnamese a cappella
Another Vietnamese singing group Nam Dong Ke will travel to the Czech Republic next Monday for the Vietnamese student festival that is due to take place from July 10 to 16. The quartet will be accompanied by a 40-member delegation including local students and other artists.
Nam Dong Ke, founded in 2001, is one of Viet Nam’s most popular groups. They will perform Quan ho folksongs in a modern style. Their most popular a cappella songs include Doc huyen cam, a piece by Bao Lan, which won the Bai hat Viet (Best Vietnamese song) award in May this year. “We want to introduce new changes to local music to Vietnamese students abroad”, Bao Lan said.
July 5, 2007
80,000 singers pack festival grounds
TALLINN - Estonia’s proud tradition of song festivals is in no danger of dying out under the watch of future generations, if July 1’s Youth Song and Dance Celebration is any indication. An estimated 80,000 people filled Tallinn’s Song Festival Ground for the major cultural event, which is held every four years.
Young people aged six to 25 showed they were eager to keep singing Estonia’s stirring anthems, but insisted on a few twists from their own generation. Among the star vocalists was Chalice, a rap singer from Tartu, who won much applause for his spoken word interpretation of the song Minu Inimesed (My People). Artistic Director Arne Saluveer said the event showed young people were injecting new vitality into the tradition of choral singing.
“The country and our way of thinking is becoming more free, in our music style too,” Saluveer told The Baltic Times. “This year there were 30 pieces which have never been performed at a song celebration before. There is a lot of new energy.” The event was followed around the nation on television and radio, with many cafes, bars and businesses broadcasting the songs for all to hear.
The festival ground itself was packed to near capacity. Some 42,000 people bought tickets to watch the event, while 35,000 young people performed on the large amphitheater. Several thousand staff and chaperones took the total attendance to above 80,000, a figure comparable with previous Youth Song and Dance Celebrations.
The event is not Estonia’s major song festival, but a separate event for young people. The next national song festival for both adults and children is scheduled to take place in 2009.
July 2, 2007
Quartets Contend With Disharmony In the Barbershop
Wall Street Journal
For 69 years, the Barbershop Harmony Society has worked, as it says, to "keep the whole world singing" -- preferably in the style of unaccompanied, four-part harmony. But these days, the organization has its hands full just keeping itself together.
The trouble stems from recent efforts to reverse declining popularity by getting younger singers to join in. To make barbershop seem less like grandpa music, the society loosened the rules for its annual competition, allowing contestants to sing modern songs with hipper, contemporary arrangements. Beatles songs, for instance. Once taboo in competition, they are now just fine.
That hits a sour note with the society's traditionalists, or "kibbers," which stands for "keep it barbershop." "They're screwing it up!" snaps purist Marty Mendro, 93 years old and a barbershop legend.
Mr. Mendro, of Twisp, Wash., sang lead in the Mid-States Four, the champion quartet of 1949. Many consider the group one of the greatest of all time. Tom Neal, 73, who made a fortune in hot tubs, has set up a separate organization that allows only old-time barbershop. "A lot of guys really hold a grudge against the society for what they've done," Mr. Neal says.
Yet the modernization effort seems to be working. Quartets of guys in their 20s, once rare in the society's championship, now regularly vie for the title, and won in 2002 and 2006. At this year's contest, set to open Wednesday in Denver, the Westminster Chorus, a group of 63 men, almost all under 30, is favored to win the barbershop chorus championship. It was featured on the NBC television series "America's Got Talent" last month.
In the quartet category, a group of young men called O.C. Times is a top contender. For its run at the gold medal this year, the quartet has been working on "Surfer Girl" and "Fun Fun Fun," both Beach Boys songs. Shawn York, the foursome's 29-year-old tenor, thinks the older guys need to lighten up. "They're so outraged that we'd do this. Yeah, we're trying to push the envelope, but it's not like we're doing rap," he shrugged after a recent rehearsal. "We're trying to sing the songs we heard when we were growing up. You can't just keep singing songs from the '20s over and over."
Ed Watson, 56, a retired Navy pilot who became the society's chief executive in 2005, says barbershop has to evolve or die. "If you don't change anything, then you'll end up losing everything," Mr. Watson says. But he also worries about the discord in the society. "This dichotomy threatens to split us in half," he says.
Barbershop dates back to the early part of the 20th century and is believed to have roots in a style developed by African-American singers hanging out on street corners and in barbershops. It is a very precise type of a cappella. The four voices -- tenor, lead, baritone and bass -- are supposed to sing the same words almost all the time. In other types of choral music, the tenor, the highest-pitched voice, sings the melody, with the other parts blending in. In barbershop, the second highest voice, the lead, sings the melody. In the best of these groups, the four voices create ringing chords with an overtone that sounds like a fifth voice, which singers call the "angel's voice."
On a sunny afternoon at his home overlooking Lake Mead in Boulder City, Nev., Mr. Neal cranked up the volume on his stereo to get the full effect of an old recording of Mr. Mendro's group, the Mid-States Four. Each time the quartet hit a brilliant chord, he punched the air. Then, pointing to the skin on his forearm, he said, "It gives me goose bumps."
Kibbers like Mr. Neal argue that the barbershop style only lends itself to songs with simple lyrics and melodies, like "My Gal Sal" or "Hey, Look Me Over," songs that have been around for a while. "Elvis, this rock 'n' roll stuff, that's not barbershop!" he grouses, pounding a fist into his knee.
The society was founded in 1938, when two dozen barbershop fans gathered to sing on a rooftop garden in Tulsa, Okla. As a lark, one of the organizers, a Missourian named O.C. Cash, told a reporter the group was called the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America. The unwieldy name, and the less than melodious acronym Spebsqsa (pronounced "speb-squa") stuck.
In the '50s and '60s, champion quartets were regularly invited to perform on the "Ed Sullivan Show." The hit Broadway show "The Music Man" featured the 1950 champs, the Buffalo Bills. Back in those days, contests were all business. Quartets had six minutes to perform two songs and were scored strictly on their singing, how well the voices blended, how true the chords were.
But by the 1990s, after the arrival of rock, heavy metal, rap and other types of pop music, most people heard the word barbershop and thought of "four old guys warbling in striped shirts and fake mustaches," Mr. Watson says. With barely any younger members joining, only gray-haired seniors remained in most Spebsqsa chapters, and they were dying out.
A few years ago, as more and more pop groups began performing a cappella, the society thought it might be able to ride its wave of popularity. The trick was to somehow make barbershop cool. The organization changed its name to the Barbershop Harmony Society and dropped the idea of preserving old-time barbershop as its primary mission. It started working with music teachers to introduce high-school singers familiar with a cappella to the barbershop style, and expanded its collegiate contest.
To be closer to the music industry, it decided to move its headquarters from Kenosha, Wis., to Nashville. "The Music City," Mr. Watson says. "That's where the recording studios are, and the marketing opportunities." In competitions, judges started allowing elements of jazz, doo-wop and gospel into performances, and gave points for entertainment. Quartets do two songs and can pause for jokes, gags or brief dance steps. In this week's contest, the Westminster Chorus will embellish one song with stomping and clapping of hands and thighs.
A few years ago, Burt Szabo, 75, a well-known barbershop arranger, became so fed up with the jazz, rock and Disney songs that were being sung in competition that he started posting a list of "barbertrash" numbers on the Internet. One example: "ABC," the 1970s hit by the Jackson 5, which caused a heap of controversy when it was sung by a quartet in last year's competition. Mr. Szabo, who lives in Orlando, Fla., acknowledges that many of the younger quartets are great singers, but he says, "If we let things evolve too far, then the real barbershop will disappear."
Mr. Neal, the leader of the breakaway group, is resolved not to let that happen. For years he has gathered a hundred or so kibbers together each year to sing the old way. They don't have a competition but there's a parade of quartets and plenty of "woodshedding" -- when four guys just happen to get together and knock out a few numbers over a few beers.
After shunning Mr. Neal's group, the society this past winter agreed to let him organize a sanctioned contest for quartets singing the old style. He put up half of the $6,000 in prize money himself. Fourteen quartets competed, not as many as Mr. Neal had hoped. The society hasn't decided whether it will sanction another traditional contest next year. Undeterred, Mr. Neal already has another gathering of his group planned for September outside Chicago. "We want to bring barbershop back so people will be aware of what it was," he says.
Do note that Tom Neal is not related to me John Neal nor of course to the writer of this article Neal Boudette. That's a whole lot of Neals.
It has been hard for The Barbershop Society in recent years as passions run high on both sides. It seems to me that most all art forms are always changing, adapting and being influenced by others and surely this is all for the good. Performing art should be vibrant and relevant and I applaud the Society for forging ahead with it's vision. Also to indeed preserve and promote barbershop singing the Society must also be financially sound and bluntly speaking these older kippers are not going to be paying membership dues forever..
July 1, 2007
Not quite a cappella but this Muppets classic scat song sure made me smile. Enjoy!
(Thanks to an e mail from a reader I can tell you that is Bip Bippadotta along with the Snowths singing this nonsense song written by Italian composer Piero Umilliani. Lots more info about the song on the Muppet Wiki.)
And here's a clip of cast members of the original English version of The Office singing the song.