May 28, 2009
Barbershop Convention video promo
Check out the video promo for the upcoming Barbershop Convention in Anaheim. It's a good idea and we should create a video promo for the Harmony Sweeps..
May 27, 2009
Documentary - American Harmony
American Harmony, the documentary, had a very exciting and successful screening at the Barbershop Harmony Society’s 2008 International Convention in Nashville. Now the producers, Aengus James (who is also the writer/director) and Colin Miller, want to take itbeyond the barbershop devotees. The film, which is a tribute to the human musical spirit, is more than three years in the making and was edited by Kate Amend, the editor of two Oscar-winning documentaries.
The movie is an in-depth look at the amazingly rich subculture of a true American art form. It follows the lives of some of the biggest names to emerge from international competition in the Society’s history, as well as interviews with rank-and-file members, called “Joe Barbershoppers.” The film features four prominent Society quartets – OC Times, Max Q, Vocal Spectrum, and Reveille – over a span of years, on stage and at home, in their personal quests for international recognition as they experience the thrill of victory, and the agony of not quite making it. American Harmony received an enthusiastic reception from film distributors and other non-Society audiences.
May 22, 2009
Plenty of harmony singing in Glee
The reviews have all been glowing and it looks like the new Fox TV show Glee will be a big hit. Although the above clip is not a cappella there is plenty of unaccompanied singing featured on the soundtrack including five songs from the The Swingle Singers. The songs are Flight of the Bumble Bee, Soul Bossa Nova, Golliwog's Cake Walk, A Fifth of Beethoven and Moonlight Sonata. Above clip is the cast singing Don't Stop Believing. Watch the complete 1st episode here.
May 21, 2009
Ommm wins Leipzig A Cappella Contest
The French group Ommm won the 3rd annual Leipzig A Cappella Contest this past weekend with Jazzaton from Hungary taking second and the German Chickpeas coming third.
Great line up at Barbershop Harmony Society Convention
The sounds you hear will be harmonious. They will be plentiful. And they will be uniquely American in their roots, but expansively international in their impact. They will come from thousands of people gathering to join in song in Anaheim, California June 28 - July 5.
Close harmony singers from across the world will meet in Anaheim for the Barbershop Harmony Society's 71st annual international convention and competitions. Singers and their fans from several countries will gather for shows, clinics, competitions, and good old-fashioned sing-alongs.
Some of the most talented groups in North American a cappella will take the stage in the Honda Center Thursday, July 2, 7:45 p.m., when the Association of International Champions (AIC) presents "Champs in Hollywood." The "Champs in Hollywood" theme stems from two main appearances: one being our legendary guest performers - Dick Van Dyke's quartet, The Vantastix. They will present songs made famous by Mr. Van Dyke's performances in popular Hollywood musical films.
The second, highly-anticipated appearance is current International Champion Quartet OC Times, who are also members of current International Chorus Champion Masters of Harmony. "It's an honor to be a part of such a star-studded music event," said 2008 International Quartet Champion, Sean Devine (OC Times). "We're thrilled to perform along side of our heroes."
All performers are previous gold medal winners in the Society's international contests. They retain championship status in keeping with the Society's philosophy "once a champion, always a champion." Many of the quartets include jazz, gospel and other a cappella styles in their repertoire.
Among the champion quartets to perform are: OC Times (2008), Max Q (2007), Vocal Spectrum (2006), Realtime (2005), FRED (1999), and Happiness Emporium (1975). More info
May 18, 2009
Harmony Sweepstakes National Finals results
The night belonged to the ladies at this year’s Harmony Sweepstakes National Finals when, for the first time in its 25 year history, both Audience Favorite winners and National Grand Champions were Sweet Adelines quartets. Taking top honors were MAXX Factor, winners of the Mid-Atlantic Regional, who delighted the audience with their fabulously in-tune & perfectly balanced chords and charming stage presence. Bay Area favorites and most certainly rising stars are the wonderful Love Notes who won Audience favorite along with overall second place. Rezonate from the Pacific NorthWest took third along with Best Original Arrangement for “Book of Love”.
The judges were a little stumped when wanting to award Best Original Song to the Mouth Beats and decided they would change the award to Most Innovative Composition to better reflect the creative nature of their original music.
Enthusiastic and knowledgeable fans of vocal harmony once again filled the venue to capacity and there surely is no better audience for a group to perform in front of. The camaraderie between groups was most apparent and many new friendships were formed.
It has been a very successful and rewarding 25 years and we look forward to continuing the tradition of providing a supportive and important showcase for a cappella groups as we all seek to celebrate and spread the joys of unaccompanied vocal harmony music.
May 16, 2009
Fear of Flight
The performance spectacle Fear of Flight from Artistic Fraud of Newfoundland with the help of Die in Debt and Cahoots Theatre finally lands in Toronto after its 2005 premiere in Corner Brook. The subject matter, a satire of the discomforts of air travel, is at least as old as Shelley Berman’s “Airlines” routine of 1959 and the structure, a glimpse into the personal lives of each of the passengers, goes back to the 1970s Airport movies. Nevertheless, every aspect of the performance — every monologue, gesture and facial expression — has been so tightly choreographed to the accompanying music that whole experience is much more than the sum of the parts.
The speeches and action are precisely timed to Jonathan Monro’s highly inventive, a cappella score, beautifully sung by the cast, that sounds like a cross between early Philip Glass and the Swingle Singers. The human-made sound effects include engine hum, air nozzle whoosh and turbulence. Director Jillian Keiley’s achievement of absolute simultaneity of movement among the cast is a marvel. For its sheer theatricality this is one flight you’re sure to enjoy. Read more.
May 15, 2009
Review: Stile Antico, 'Song of Songs'
San Francisco Chronicle (CA):
Renaissance composers were quick to latch onto the Song of Songs as source material, and for perfectly good reasons. The book's ardent love poetry and lush eroticism offer plenty of opportunity for sensuality - but because the texts are biblical, they come with the respectable imprimatur of the church. It's a win-win proposition, and this gorgeous assemblage of settings by some of the leading figures of 16th century polyphony demonstrates why. In suave, finely tuned performances by the young British vocal ensemble Stile Antico, the music is at once stately and inviting, devotional and, well, sexy. The balance between those poles varies with the composer, from the intricate but impeccably chaste settings of Palestrina to the brighter and earthier music of Gombert and Lassus. At the far end (the high end, for some of us) is the voluptuous, extravagantly beautiful work of Spaniard Tómas Luis de Victoria, which is everything that love music can and should be.
May 13, 2009
US songbirds in perfect Barbershop harmony
Clad in sequined costumes, fake eyelashes and lots of lipstick, more than 1,000 women descend every year on a US east coast seaside town to compare not their good looks, but their beauty in song.
These fans of women's Barbershop -- a distinctly American style of a cappella singing in four parts -- don't stay hidden for long when 1,200 of them invade the streets of Ocean City, Maryland, dressed in florescent gowns and frilly satin dresses that recall the golden age of the American 1950s.
Across the United States every year, in regional and national Barbershop contests, competing choruses and quartets offer ballads and harmonies for four voices in various styles -- jazz, Broadway show tunes and folk songs -- even comic music.
"It is truly a rewarding and yet bizarre experience. Hundreds of predominantly middle-aged women, who love to sing, transform themselves using glitter, rhinestones, hairspray and heavy makeup and take the stage," said Joanne Diamond, a singer for four years with the Capital Accord Chorus, a Barbershop choir in Washington northern suburbs.
"We squeeze into shoes that make walking a painful experience and wear undergarments to ensure that nothing jiggles.
"As we approach the stage, the discomfort of our attire dissipates, and our hearts start to race. We become 'show people,'" she said, looking on excitedly as the judges listened to a group's Gershwin ballad. Read more.
May 9, 2009
Interview: Sam Lloyd, aka 'Ted' from 'Scrubs' - The Blanks
Sam Lloyd has been in TV and movies for over twenty years. "Seinfeld" fans will recognize him as Ricky from "The Pie" and "The Cigar Store Indian" episodes, as well in episodes of "Mad About You", "The Drew Carey Show", "3rd Rock From The Sun", "Desperate Housewives" and countless other TV shows. Lloyd really caught our eye when he played "Neru" in Galaxy Quest (1999) and shortly afterwards he began appearing as hapless attorney Theodore "Ted" Buckland in NBC's "Scrubs" and has been on the show for 8 years now, through its transition to ABC.
A few years into "Scrubs", Lloyd, as Ted Buckland, began to sing amazing versions of TV themes and other songs in a hilarious a capella quartet that would mysteriously appear during several episodes each season. The quartet was loosely named "Ted's Band" or "The Worthless Peons" but they really are a very real quartet that Sam has been a part of for years called "The Blanks".
If you watched the "Scrubs" season finale on Wednesday this week, The Blanks sang an extended version of the theme song, "I'm No Superman", during the extended credits and season wrap outtakes. The Blanks will appear at Largo at the Coronet on Saturday May 16th - we had the chance to talk to Sam about how The Blanks came to be, and how they got on "Scrubs". Read or listen to the interview here.
May 8, 2009
Face's all-vocal rock is a big hit in Boulder
Daily Camera (CO):
It's an uphill battle for any local band seeking headliner status. For Boulder's Face, that hill was just a little bit higher. As an all-vocal band, Face has had to overcome the stigma of being an a cappella group. Mark Megibow, the band's vocal percussionist and business manager, is quick to point out that Face is so much more than that. "We're a rock group. But it's all vocal," he says.
Even the phrase "vocal band" can be misleading. Sure, it's six guys singing, but Megibow uses his voice like a drum kit, doing everything from re-creating traditional percussion instruments like cymbals and snare drums to beatboxing (see sidebar). Bass vocalist Forest Kelly doesn't just offer a strong baritone voice. He mimics an electric bass.
"When I'm singing the bass line, I'm doing my best to have the groove just really fit in there nice and tightly," Kelly says.
Together, Megibow and Kelly produce a rhythm section worthy of any rock group. It comes in handy when the band is performing pop and rock tunes like Fall Out Boy's "Sugar, We're Goin' Down" and Cake's "Short Skirt/Long Jacket." The band also performs classics like "Sexual Healing" and "How Deep is Your Love," alongside originals and even a few curve balls, such as the "Pink Panther Theme" and "The Safety Dance."
Face performs at Nissi's in Lafayette on Monday and has a number of big gigs planned for the summer, including performances at the Boulder Creek Fest, Longmont's Rhythm on the River and a headlining spot at the Boulder Theater on June 18.
It's been an uphill climb to get to this level, but after seven years and two CDs, Face has become a top draw. Locally, Face regularly plays at Nissi's, the Boulder Theater, Boulder's Dinner Theatre, the Soiled Dove Underground in Denver and the D-Note in Arvada. Nationally, the band has sold out the Steve Wyrick Theatre in Las Vegas and has performed all over the country, including gigs in San Francisco, Chicago and Minneapolis. Last week, readers of the Boulder Weekly named Face the best band in Boulder. Not best a cappella band. Best band, period. Read more.
May 6, 2009
Leipzig A Cappella Contest
The Harmony Sweepstakes is the oldest and largest a cappella competition but there are a few others. Coincidentally on the same upcoming weekend as the Sweeps is the Leipzig A Cappella Contest who will be presenting their 3rd annual event. Groups from six countries will be participating including the delightful looking Chickpeas pictured above.
May 5, 2009
Vocal jazz pioneer retires
Denton Record Chronicle (TX):
After 31 years of nurturing jazz voices, University of North Texas voice professor Paris Rutherford is boxing up his sheet music and heading for a retirement that leaves room for music and teaching.
But before he breaks out the boxes, Rutherford will welcome about 80 alumni back to campus for a final concert at 8 p.m. today. Rutherford brought the UNT Jazz Singers up from a fledgling choral ensemble to become one of the best collegiate vocal jazz ensembles in the country since he took a teaching job at the college in 1978.
“When I arrived, there was a class in jingle singing. It was called the Commercial Singers,” Rutherford said. “But that wasn’t what I thought we ought to be doing. So we changed it to Vocal Jazz Singers.”
Rutherford is a respected arranger, and when he arrived at the college, the jazz arranging course was small. He made a decision that would later cement UNT’s reputation for training some of the most musical singers in the music business.
“I decided that arranging would be required for majors,” he said. “That meant the class grew. The students who are pursuing a degree have to write one big band chart for that class.”
Arranging isn’t something that every singer loves to do, but Rutherford hasn’t taught too many successful students who regret learning to do it.
“When a singer knows how to arrange music, a singer knows how to communicate with an instrumentalist. And the instrumentalists are part of the ensemble,” he said. “You can’t ever forget that if you’re a singer. The better communication you have between singers and instrumentalists, the better performance you’ll get.” Read more.
Behind the chords: the vocal instrument
A duck glides through the waters of Theta Pond. On the surface, everything the duck does seems natural; however, to look natural, the duck kicks furiously to travel. Sarah Moyer’s throat is the same way. When the vocal performance senior is singing, a lot is happening below the surface.
Moyer’s Concert Chorale director, Natasa Karaca, said she is aware of the fragility of singing voices. “The voice, in general, is very delicate,” Karaca said. Moyer agreed. “Voice is not a man-made instrument,” she said.
Moyer is a contralto soprano — a style of singing that requires a lot of high, quick-paced singing, she said. She said the OSU Music Department has two contralto sopranos — herself and Laurynn Smith, a vocal performance junior. Moyer also said vocalists have to be more careful than instrumentalists.
Smith said drums are a good example. The head of the drum can be broken many times but it can be replaced, Smith said. “If you ruin your voice, you only get that once,” she said. “You can’t get it back.”
Moyer said vocalists rely on vocal folds that sit in the middle of the throat. The folds are made of thin tissue and muscle, and they flap when high notes are sung. “My voice will probably get damaged faster than a bigger person’s voice will because my vocal folds are about the size of the profile of a dime,” Moyer said.
Mark Lawlor, assistant director of choral activities, said vocal folds are generally “teeny tiny.” Lawlor said when he was studying for his doctorate, he visited a morgue and inspected cadavers and viewed their vocal folds. “I could barely see them,” Lawlor said. “(A lot of sound is) coming from a tiny muscle.”
Moyer said because of her small stature, her vocal folds flap like a hummingbird’s wings. Although her voice is delicate, that doesn’t prohibit her voice from being strong, she said. Read more.
May 4, 2009
Tenor times ten
Stewart Morris — who is one of the longest-serving members of the vocal ensemble The Ten Tenors — says it takes about four songs before the husbands start to relax. "Our shows have this sort of pattern," he said, speaking by cell phone from somewhere in the vicinity of Greenwood, S.C., where the group was preparing to perform.
"We'll start out with a few classical or operatic pieces, then slip in something that's totally different — like a doo-wop medley. And depending on the stage lights, we can actually see some of the men in the crowd come around. "You know, the disgruntled husbands who were brought to the show — they realize that maybe this is going to be a fun evening, after all."
As those who saw the Ten Tenors when they played Tulsa last year, these Australian singers put on an entertaining evening, mixing classical and popular songs with theatrical razzle-dazzle. The current incarnation of the group returns to Tulsa for a pair of Mother's Day weekend concerts, presenting a new show titled "Nostalgica."
The Ten Tenors got their start in 1995, when the original members were students at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music in Brisbane, Australia. They put together a group to do corporate shows, just a few gigs yearly, to help earn money to pay for their studies.
Three years later, the group decided to see if there was enough interest in 10 Australian guys singing arias and pop songs with an operatic flourish to make a career. The Ten Tenors have been on the road ever since, and more than two dozen performers have passed through the group's ranks. Read more.