June 25, 2008

'The Singing Office' scans the help for entertainers


It's not a typical day at the airport. Melanie Brown, the season five "Dancing with the Stars" runner-up, is traipsing around with a camera crew in tow, begging JetBlue employees to croon "Like a Virgin" a cappella.

No need to alert the Long Beach Airport's TSA crew, or even TMZ — Brown is simply filming a segment for "The Singing Office ," a new tongue-in-cheek TLC vocal competition.

In each episode of this Dutch reality TV import (premiering June 29 at 9 p.m. EDT on TLC), co-host Brown and fellow former "Dancing" contestant Joey Fatone surprise employees at two separate workplaces with impromptu auditions. Today, the 33-year-old Spice Girl is courting everyone from JetBlue baggage carriers to flight attendants.

"It's not like 'American Idol' or 'Dancing with the Stars,'" Brown told The Associated Press during a recess from her quest for five amateur singers to make up a new performance group. "It's not a serious competition. It gives people a break from their everyday lives to have some fun with their co-workers."

Eventually, her JetBlue crew will have to prepare for a different kind of takeoff. After a weeklong dancing and singing bootcamp with a professional choreographer and vocal coach, the group will perform in front of a studio audience against another team helmed by former 'N Sync member Fatone. Then, the crowd will pick a winner.

During this day of filming tryouts last April, there was no rehearsal, off-camera interference from producers or even a long line to audition. Instead, Brown merely ambushed JetBlue employees on camera with a list of preapproved songs to sing, and the workers responded by unabashedly singing — granted, mostly badly — their hearts out.

"This doesn't work if it's overly produced," said executive producer Scott Sternberg. "The thing about this format is it only works if it's real and unscripted. It's more than just a competition. It's about real people going outside of themselves and performing in front of a studio audience. It can be a very uplifting experience." Read more

This one sounds pretty scary...

Posted by acapnews at 9:53 PM | Comments (0)

June 23, 2008

Choirs are becoming cool

The Times (UK):

There are many things about which the UK claims to be the envy of the world, but when it comes to choirs, the boast is justified. “It’s one of the things the UK truly excels at,” says the choral conductor Suzi Digby. “More than any other country, we have an amazing amateur tradition. We are the only country with a 1,000-year unbroken tradition of cathedral choir schools. It is one of the things we really do well.”

After years of decline, choirs are becoming cool, spurred by the success of the choirmaster Gareth Malone’s award-winning BBC2 series on choirs. There are now more than 25,000 registered in Britain. They make people feel good. “Choirs are the only place where people come together and express a common emotion,” says Digby, who is also passionate about music education. “That’s why football crowds sing and why choirs are incredibly valuable to society in general.”

In a series that will arguably do more to get people singing than the search for Maria, Nancy or Joseph, the BBC is celebrating the power of choirs in a new series, Last Choir Standing. Presented by Myleene Klass and Nick Knowles, and judged by Digby, the singer Russell Watson and the actress Sharon D Clark, it begins with 60 choirs from across the country, whittles them down to 15 for the studio heats, then invites the public to vote on the last six. The last choir standing will be hailed as the nation’s favourite choir.

Choirs have not always been sexy. “There was this idea that if you were going off to choir practice, you were a sad loser,” Digby says. “People also get a psychological block about singing. Parents say their children can’t, siblings laugh – it doesn’t take much for it all to shut down.” Yet the lung-filling, oxygen-pumping experience is so good at producing a serotonin-fuelled buzz that the Labour peer, No 10 adviser and “happiness tsar”, Richard Layard, recommends joining one for the feelgood factor alone.

The competition’s choirs could not be more varied: a group of hip-hop street kids, struggling to hang on to a musical director long enough to keep the choir together; disabled singers from Northern Ireland; and a kilted a cappella student band from St Andrews, which gets up to 50 coming along to auditions. Some of the choirs are predominantly female. “It’s hard to hang on to men. They prefer to be soloists,” says Perry Alleyne-Hughes, a 55-year-old maths teacher and the musical director of an a cappella group, Sense of Sound. Equally, the Hereford Police Male Choir will not accept ladies. “We’d never live it down in Wales,” says its secretary, Brian Williams. Composed of police and “people known to the police,” which, in this context, means solid citizens such as undertakers, lawyers and doctors, this choir vets members lest villains or arrestees try to exploit their choir connections.

Article continues here.

Posted by acapnews at 10:18 PM | Comments (0)

June 21, 2008

Q&A with Ross Barbour and Bob Flanigan

indy.com (OH)

What's a college degree worth? Ask these surviving "four freshmen" and you'll get a very politically incorrect answer. Ross Barbour, 79, and Bob Flanigan, 81, are two native Hoosiers who attended Butler University after World War II and decided not to stick around after their freshman year.

Instead, they, along with Don Barbour and Hal Kratzsch, formed a pop vocal group in 1948 called the Four Freshmen that pioneered a fresh, jazzy sound, often singing a cappella. They'd practice in a car, or sometimes a men's room on Butler's campus -- they liked the reverb.

Flanigan stayed with the group the longest -- he stopped performing in 1992. But he was smart enough to get a lawyer and register "The Four Freshmen" name and sound. There have been at least 23 personnel changes in the group over the years, and an authorized group still tours under the name the Four Freshmen.

Flanigan helped manage the group for a while after he left the stage and Barbour worked in real estate, among other pursuits, after he stopped performing. Both are retired. Flanigan lives in Las Vegas. Barbour lives in Simi Valley, Calif.

Oh -- about being college dropouts. Barbour and Flanigan were in town recently to receive honorary degrees from their alma mater, 60 years after they left campus.

Where did you perform during your Butler days?

Ross Barbour: We would sing in restaurants. There was an ice cream store at 21st and Delaware that we'd go to at night and sing in there. ..... A bartender from the LVL Club heard us and said, "What we ought to do is get you to come out and sing at the LVL Club." That was out on Highway 37 (on the Southside) and it was an illegal place to go. They had gambling. It was open after midnight on Saturday night. We worked there three nights a week, and we swung a big contract -- we each were paid $5 a night. ..... We would go from table to table and ask, "Would you like to hear a song?" And they'd say, "Yes, sing 'Nature Boy' or sing 'White Christmas,'." and we'd try to do it.

Did your families object when you left school to go on the road?

Barbour: The folks said, "Oh, no. That's no career. Get a job in the bank or something." We didn't really listen. After we had been on the road for a few months, it was not easy. There were times when we should have quit, but then we would have had to go home and face the family.

Bob Flanigan: My dad always told me, "I want you to get a steady job." He'd always say that every time he saw me. But, no, it wasn't anything for me. I had been in the Army and I loved music.

How do you feel about getting honorary degrees?

Flanigan: I was telling Ross this morning (that) it takes a lot to excite me, because we've done about everything you can think of. But ..... (it) is the most exciting thing ..... in 20 years.

What happened 20 years ago?

Flanigan: Well, I forget her name.

What were the early years like?

Barbour: When we started the group, Hal Kratzsch had a Packard. He was the leader of the group because he had a car.

As we came on the road, the first few jobs were in Camden, Ark., and Savannah, Ga., and Sheboygan, Wis. Then my brother Don and I bought a Ford, a '36 Ford with a '41 engine in it and it didn't have a heater. It didn't have a windshield washer, either. And then one after the other, more cars were added to the group, and pretty soon there were four cars and four wives and five or six kids. There were seven or eight years when one of the wives was expecting at all times. The wives were traveling with us the first seven or eight years.

You were one of the early groups to perform mostly on college campuses. What was that like?

Flanigan: Sometimes we performed in a gym after a basketball game. A lot of the gyms that weren't finished had birds chirping. At one gym, people sat cross-legged on the gym floor and had to leave their shoes on the side. Halfway through the concert they got up to stretch. There were no seats. In North Carolina, we faced a hillside with people sitting on it. At the University of Texas, they had a huge bonfire.

Where's the worst place you performed?

Flanigan: When we played in Atlantic City, we were in the lounge and we had to do a noon show, a free show for people. We were where the buses came in. They'd give people $10 to gamble, buy 'em lunch, and they'd come down and lose their $10, have their lunch, and come back to the bus to sleep. It was right behind us.

Other groups from the '50s were more successful than you. The Four Aces, the Kingston Trio and so on... does that bother you?

Flanigan: We weren't thinking about being terribly successful. We were just thinking about what we liked. The first six or seven years, we made very little money, but that wasn't the point.

How did you get interested in music?

Flanigan: When I was a kid, I used to hitchhike up here when they had the big bands at the Circle Theatre. ..... One time I was up here for the Tommy Dorsey band. Tommy had an awful temper. That's common knowledge. Anyway, it was a tune called "Mairzy Doats," which was the worst piece of music you ever heard. Well, some guy kept bugging Tommy, "Hey, Tommy, play Mairzy Doats," and he'd say we don't do that. Well, this guy kept doing it, so Tommy took his mouthpiece out and threw it at the guy. I was hoping it would get close to me so I could say I had a Tommy Dorsey mouthpiece.

What do you think of the more recent iteration of the Four Freshmen?

Ross Barbour: I was never content with the group when I was in it, and I haven't been content with any group since then. ..... But the Freshmen have a quality that the other groups haven't even tried to do. They play and sing at the same time, complicated stuff.

Posted by acapnews at 12:46 AM | Comments (9)

Another jingle contest with big $

TORONTO (Reuters):

If you can string together a few catchy musical notes, write them down and send them to Canada's national broadcaster, you could win the newly announced jingle contest. The winning composition will receive C$100,000 ($99,000) in cash and half of the ongoing performance royalties. The other half will go to minor league hockey in Canada.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, which recently lost the rights to its hugely popular "Hockey Night in Canada" theme song, said on Thursday it will hold a contest to find a replacement for the jingle.

CBC, which had used the theme to open its top-rated "Hockey Night" broadcasts since 1968, lost the rights to the song about two weeks ago when rival CTV network struck a deal with the song's author.

The turn of events was huge news in hockey-mad Canada, where the peppy tune had taken on iconic status. In a statement on its website, the broadcaster said accepted entries will be posted online, where Canadians will rate and select the winner.

The winner will get the cash prize and notoriety. "The world will know you wrote an anthem that will be a key part of the CBC's Hockey Night in Canada broadcast," it said.

The price tag will be considerably less than the reported C$2.5 million CBC was being asked for to retain the rights of the old "Hockey Night" theme. That song will now be used for hockey broadcasts on CTV's English and French-language all-sports networks, as well as for coverage of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games.

Posted by acapnews at 12:20 AM | Comments (0)

June 20, 2008

Howlers bring down the House

Australian Broadcasting Corporation(ABC):

Believe it or not, even the hard hitting political reporters at the Parliament House Press Gallery need a break. The House Howlers are a group of journalists, newsroom staff and party staffers who find the best way to let off steam after work is to gather together and sing biting political satire a cappella.

Karen Middleton, SBS Chief political Correspondent says all of their professional competition is set aside in favour of performing some cleverly written tunes, parodying some of Australia's political heavyweights, "We find it a bit of a creative outlet. Sometimes I think you can push the envelope a little bit further in song than you can perhaps in a serious broadcast or a newspaper."

Prominent characters such as Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, former prime minister John Howard, Shadow Treasurer Malcolm Turnbull, Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson and Greens Leader Bob Brown can't escape the Howlers' lampooning.

"Mostly we sing songs about people but occasionally we do them about issues, when we feel strongly about them," Karen says. This is especially evident in their song War Time, a tongue-in-cheek ditty about the war in Iraq, performed to the tune of Rawhide.

The House Howlers sounds like an exclusive and prestigious group, but long-time member Steve Lewis, National Affairs Correspondent for News Limited, says that the audition process is relatively informal. "People hear about the Howlers, we are world famous of course, and they come up to us and beg to join and we normally say 'That's ok, you've got to bring a good bottle of wine or a six pack of beer'," jokes Lewis, "We are Journalists after all!"

"We say, 'Can you sing?' and they say, 'No,' and we say, 'No worries, come along Tuesday night'," adds Karen.

Taking the mickey out of authority is held as an intrinsic part of Australian culture but the Howlers do attempt to exercise some balance. "We do try and be fair," says Karen, "if we have a go at someone on one side then we'll generally look for someone on the other side to have a go at... and we don't spare the minor parties either!"

The House Howlers were warmly received by packed crowds at both of their National Folk Festival performances. At their debut on Saturday, Steve Lewis assured the audience they tried to be impartial but he did note that the stage did seem to been leaning a little to the left...

Posted by acapnews at 12:00 AM | Comments (0)

Singer gets 9 1/2 years prison sentence

News- Herald (OH):

As first tenor for the '50s singing group The Coronets, Lester Russaw briefly got a taste of fame. With legendary DJ Alan Freed as their mentor, the Cleveland-based Coronets had several hit records, including the song, "Nadine," which rose to No. 3 on the R&B charts.

But sadly, music isn't likely to be Russaw's legacy. On Wednesday, the 74-year-old Mayfield Heights man was sentenced to 91/2 years in a federal prison for committing armed robberies last year at KeyBank in Wickliffe and a Huntington National Bank in Cleveland, taking more than $15,000. All the money was recovered.

Russaw told U.S. District Judge Solomon Oliver Jr. that he suffers from prostate cancer and felt he had no other way of getting money. "I wasn't greedy," he said. "I didn't do it for drugs. I didn't want to buy a big-screen TV or a Rolex. I did it because I was desperate." Russaw said he had recently lost his job of 15 years after the company went out of business.

Posted by acapnews at 12:00 AM | Comments (0)

June 19, 2008

More on "Jingles"


Mark Burnett

CBS has ordered eight episodes of "Jingles," a non-scripted skein from Mark Burnett in which contestants compete to dream up memorable melodies on behalf of real products.

In what may be Burnett's most Madison Avenue-friendly program since "The Apprentice," teams of players will be given weekly jingle-writing assignments -- coming up with, say, the next Oscar Mayer wiener song or a new pitch for Coke -- and will then have to perform them in front of a studio audience. Viewer votes will determine a weekly winner (whose ditty will end up in a real ad) and loser (who will go home).

"This show is sort of like 'America's Got Talent' but with a purpose," Burnett said, adding that the skein will be heavy on elaborate performances as teams try to sell their songs to viewers.

Burnett is exec producing the tentatively titled "Jingles" with Roy Bank, David Hurwitz ("Fear Factor") and Paul Cockerill. There's no planned airdate yet, though summer 2008 is a possibility. Bank, who heads development for Mark Burnett Prods., said casting will be key, with the producers aiming for diversity within the teams.

"A team could be anything from a solo singer-songwriter to a brother/sister team to a hip-hop group or a barbershop quartet," Bank said. "Their performance onstage will really determine the vote." The show, he added, will combine "a lot of things that are currently working on television: fun, high-energy performances mixed with competition and a more pointed purpose."

Burnett has just started talking to advertisers about the show, but it's not hard to see the appeal to Madison Avenue. "It's a very organic way to give advertisers what they're looking for," Burnett said. "It's totally family- friendly, it's noncontroversial, and (the product placement) is very organic. It's not about pushing something that doesn't belong."

Jon Harris, head of communications for Sara Lee, said the baked goods giant is "always looking for ways to connect with consumers" and that Burnett-produced skeins such as "Jingles" are attractive to advertisers. "Mark has a tremendous track record with product integration," Harris said. "The iniatives really help a brand cut through the clutter of the marketplace and help put your brand and company front and center."

To ensure that inappropriate jingles aren't selected for advertisers, companies will have on-camera reps rendering verdicts about the various jingles, letting home voters know if a song doesn't make sense for a specific product.

Because weekly winners will see their jingles used in actual commercials, contestants don't have to win the entire competish to see some benefit. "If someone comes up with the next great Oscar Mayer jingle, it could be on TV for the next 20 years, even if they're voted off in week three," Burnett said.

The ultimate winner will likely get a large cash prize and a job at a major ad agency. And while most of the weekly competitions will likely focus on real brands, some weeks will see contestants dreaming up songs for charities -- or maybe even people. "You could end up writing a jingle for your mother-in-law, showing everyone how you would brand her," Bank said.

Burnett's slate currently includes "Survivor," "The Contender," "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?" and the upcoming quizzers "Amnesia" and "My Dad Is Better Than Your Dad." Hurwitz is currently prepping the new "American Gladiators" for NBC. "Jingles'' was packaged by Endeavor.

Web site:-

Posted by acapnews at 12:04 AM | Comments (1)

June 17, 2008

Casting call for CBS's new show "Jingles"

I was contacted today by casting director Adam Saltzberg with a great opportunity for all you arrangers out there. He is looking specifically for a cappella groups for the new CBS show called “Jingles” which is being produced by the very successful producer Mark Burnett (Apprentice and Survivor). The show is going to be a competition where teams of 2-3 write a new product jingle for a different company each episode, and the winning team gets $100,000 and a contract writing music for one of the companies. A cappella groups have been doing very well with national competitions in recent years and this might just be another opportunity for talented vocal harmony groups. They are reaching the end of the casting process but are currently specifically looking for a cappella performers! For details on how to apply, contact Adam at asaltzberg@markburnettprod.com

Posted by acapnews at 10:08 PM | Comments (0)

June 16, 2008

Ray Turner, bass in original King's Heralds, dies at 99

Adventist News Network (MD):

Ray Turner, the bass in the original King's Heralds Quartet, a singing group long supported by the Seventh-day Adventist Church's Voice of Prophecy radio ministry, died May 15 at a care facility in Killeen, Texas. He was 99.

While a student at Southwestern Junior College (now Southwestern Adventist University) in Keene, Texas, Turner began harmonizing with the three Crane brothers -- Louis, Waldo, and Wesley -- and formed the Lone Star Four Quartet in 1927.

They were hired as a quartet in Oakland, California after graduating from nursing school. But the $30 each earned a month didn't pay the bills during the Depression. The four men traveled south to the Los Angeles area and began working at Glendale Sanitarium and Hospital.

Upon hearing the group, hospital chaplain H.M.J. Richards recommended them to his son H.M.S. Richards, founder of the Voice of Prophecy, who asked the Lone Star Four to join his evangelism and radio team in 1936.

The group was featured during a one-hour program every afternoon on Hollywood's station KMPC. On Saturday mornings they sang for a program on KNX, also in Hollywood. Every evening they assisted with Richards' evangelistic campaign in his tabernacle in nearby Long Beach and assisted other evangelists in the area when they could.

The following year, the Voice of Prophecy conducted a radio contest to re-name the quartet, since the name "Lone Star," a Texas reference, was no longer applicable in California. The winning name was the King's Heralds.

The King's Herald are one of the world's longest running a cappella groups and are still going strong. They are special guest artists at this year's Barbershop International Convention.

Posted by acapnews at 10:28 PM | Comments (3)

June 10, 2008

Real Group to perform at Barbershop Convention

As always there will be plenty of great a cappella singing at the upcoming International Barbershop Competition to be held this year in Nashville and celebrates the 70th anniversary of the Barbershop Society. As an additional treat this year’s special guest artist are none other than Sweden’s The Real Group who will be performing on Saturday July 5 at the Sommet Center in Nashville starting at 2pm. Tickets are available to the general public and can be purchased from Ticketmaster. More info here.

Posted by acapnews at 10:40 PM | Comments (0)

June 9, 2008

Sweet Adelines International A Cappella Unleashed Singing Contest

The Sweet Adelines International has today launched their “A Cappella Unleashed Youtube.com Singing Contest” which is offering US$1,000 prize for the winner. They are looking for the most entertaining female a cappella singing performance that demonstrates creativity and outstanding singing quality. Solo and group a cappella performances will be accepted.

To enter the contest one needs to post a video to the contest video site where people can then vote. A $1,000 Visa gift card will be awarded to the contestant that earns the highest number of views. For detailed information on eligibility, contest prizes and to read the official contest rules click here or watch the above video.

What a great marketing idea!

Posted by acapnews at 10:08 PM | Comments (0)

June 5, 2008

Mickey Rapkin interview

US New & World Report:

In the past 25 years, college a cappella has become a huge hit, with more than 1,200 college groups nationwide and 200,000 alums. Once merely considered a destination for choir geeks, collegiate a cappella has achieved an aura of glamour, moving from college campuses to bigger (and more varied) stages, like The Late Show With David Letterman and the Republican National Convention.

In his new book, Pitch Perfect: The Quest for Collegiate a Cappella Glory, GQ editor (and a cappella group alum) Mickey Rapkin explores the starry-eyed and often hilarious subculture of campus a cappella. Rapkin followed three a cappella groups—the Tufts University Beelzebubs, Divisi from the University of Oregon, and the University of Virginia Hullabahoos—around the country to document their musical escapades.

"It was sort of like [the film] Almost Famous," he says, "but with collegiate a cappella." Excerpts from his interview with U.S. News:

So is a cappella glamorous or goofy?
When you're an adult and you mention a cappella—if you dare mention it—people think of Rockapella, that group from the Folgers commercial. There's that sort of stigma attached to it. But on college campuses it's the complete opposite: It's cooler than being in a band.

I'd go see the Beelzebubs in concert, and there'd be 500 people there. The Hullabahoos just did their big show and sold out the downtown theater in Charlottesville.

Where did you get the idea to write this book?
It was twofold. It was in the air—there was an a cappella subplot in The Office and a joke on 30 Rock, and musicians like Sara Bareilles who had sung in collegiate a cappella groups were coming up on the radio. Even Osama bin Ladin was mentioned as having sung in an a cappella group in The Looming Tower, that Lawrence Wright book that won so many awards. People were talking about it in strange places and in strange contexts.

And I also sang in an a cappella group myself when I was at Cornell, and I just always thought there was this bigger story to tell—this heartwarming, bizarre, and exciting story about what amounts to these collegiate rock stars.

Why did you pick the three groups you did and not more established ones, like the Yale Whiffenpoofs or the Harvard Krokodiloes?
The Whiffenpoofs and the Kroks have rich histories, but they were born on third base. There's less of a challenge there. I wanted three groups that would show really different experiences.

The Tufts Beelzebubs really set the standard for collegiate a cappella albums, and I wanted to follow them as they recorded a new one. It was a follow-up to their last few albums, which are so amazingly produced that you can't tell the difference between the a cappella recordings and the originals.

Then I wanted a girls group, and Divisi, the group from Oregon, had this incredible story. [In 2005] they were competing in the International Championship of Collegiate a Cappella and were the favorites to win, but ended up taking second place. They were really upset, blaming the judge from Juilliard for blackballing them. When I met them they were going back to the championships, wanting to prove they were the best in the country.

And I wanted the third group to be a lot of fun, because so much of collegiate a cappella is just about being stupid with some of your best friends. So I found the uva Hullabahoos, who make some great music but are also known as the frat guys of collegiate a cappella.

How much did you travel with the groups?
I took probably 20 weekend trips over the course of a school year. I flew to Los Angeles with the Hullabahoos when they were going to sing the national anthem for the Lakers game. I went up to New Hampshire with the Beelzebubs when they were recording their album. And I flew out to San Francisco to see Divisi compete. I'd go on road trips. It was a lot of tagging along, of being the guy on the bus.

Do you think that any of the students in Pitch Perfect will continue on to sing professionally?
It's hard to say. There's a guy in the Hullabahoos, Patrick Lundquist, who has an enormous voice. From Divisi there's Marissa Neitling. These people are really talented, but who knows how the stars will align? You never know. Most people unfortunately just go on with their lives and don't have the opportunity to sing like that again.Your priorities change as you growolder: You have work, you have a family, and you don't really have time to go out on a Wednesday night for three hours and—I don't know—learn how to sing Rihanna's "Umbrella" without instruments.

Posted by acapnews at 11:00 PM | Comments (1)

June 3, 2008

An International Cast of Voices

Washington Post (DC):

The Kennedy Center's ongoing festival of a cappella music is virtually a summit of the world's top voice-only ensembles, performing everything from show tunes to Renaissance madrigals. The concerts this past week at the Millennium Stage have been both free and revelatory (and try arguing with that) but the best may have been reserved for Sunday night, when a global who's who of a cappella, hosted by the pioneering vocalist Bobby McFerrin, pulled out all the stops for a concert titled "A World of Voices."

McFerrin, of course, has done more to build interest in a cappella music than any other single performer, and it was quickly obvious why. An utterly natural musician with an irrepressible sense of play, he took a chair and began improvising an African-inflected tune in a high, gentle voice. Adding percussion by beating on his chest, he worked in deep bass notes, the sounds eerily imitating a thumb piano, then a lower vocal line, until he'd transformed himself into a virtual quartet -- a virtuosic and absolutely riveting performance that brought the house down.

McFerrin hosted the rest of the concert lightly, always singing rather than speaking, and drawing the audience into the performance with a deft comic touch.

The more famous names stole the show. Chanticleer -- the reigning gods of the men's chorus world -- roam across the centuries with elegant nonchalance, and after opening with some early polyphony from Andrea Gabrieli, delivered a soaring, intense account of Mahler's "Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen," swanned though the Gershwin standard "Love Walked In" and topped things off with a stirring gospel number.

D.C.'s own Sweet Honey in the Rock delivered its self-described "intense social commentary" with several colorful songs, and the South African group Ladysmith Black Mambazo turned in gentle, enveloping harmonies drawn from traditional Zulu music, livened up with high kicks and much leaping around. The most amazing singing of the evening, though, came from Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares, whose strange, flavorful timbres and unearthly harmonies -- drawn from Bulgarian folk music -- sound both ancient and completely modern.

McFerrin closed the evening by bringing all the performers onstage for a collective improvisation, a statement, if one were needed, of the universality of music and the power of the human voice.

Posted by acapnews at 12:56 AM | Comments (0)