August 29, 2009
Vocal Jazz Summit
A great event for fans of vocal jazz harmony fans is the upcoming Vocal Jazz Summit to be held in Mainz, Germany from September 30th thru Oct 3. Performances, workshops and coaching with The Real Group, Swingle Singers, Manhattan Transfer along with special guest Ward Swingle. Other top European groups performing are Touche, Vocal Journey, Vocado, Witloof Bay, Vocaloca, Pust.
August 27, 2009
Kevin Wright Says Goodbye to Rockapella
Kevin Wright, one of Rockapella’s esteemed tenors for the past thirteen years, has made the decision to hang up his traveling shoes and change the direction of his career.
“Making this change is one of the toughest decisions of my life. With our girls growing up and another thriving business, my wife, Amy and I believe that this is a time for our family to share as much of our lives together as possible. It’s been such a rewarding experience and an honor to be part of the greatest vocal group ever. As I say goodbye, I wish my brothers in Rockapella nothing but the greatest success in the years to come. To all the amazing fan friends throughout the world THANK YOU for being family so many nights. I will miss sharing part of my life with you."
Kevin Wright will be performing through Rockapella’s ’09 fall and holiday season.
August 26, 2009
Miami Dolphins holding auditions for a cappella group
The Miami Dolphins are seeking singers for Dolphins Voices -- the team’s new a cappella group, which is to perform the National Anthem at all Dolphins home games at Land Shark Stadium this season.
New Dolphins limited partner and Grammy Award-winning producer Emilio Estefan is helping the team lead the search for the eight-piece group. Musician and arranger Derric Johnson will direct the group. The group is just another of new Dolphins owner Stephen M. Ross' plans to enhance the fan experience at games.
Aspiring singers must be 18 and perform a song that reflects their vocal range. They also must be available for all eight of the team’s home games during the 2009 season and for rehearsals throughout the season. The group will also perform at other events.
August 25, 2009
Gaggle - A Chorus Of Approval
Someone says girl band and, at best, you think punk/80’s enthusiasts, gyrating ‘girly’ girls wearing too much eye-liner and with their bras on show. Throw ‘oh btw they’re also a choir’ into the mix and you might expect the latest offering from X-Factor first round rejects carrying a strong Jehovah’s Witness vibe. The polar opposite of ALL of the above can be said of London’s all-female 22-strong music group Gaggle, headed by choir mistress Debra Coughlin.
She is, of course, the alpha female of the clan - no Mother Goose puns please. There is still a strong sense of does-what-it-says-on-the-tin about Gaggle, yet they’re out to knock down boundaries. Pitching themselves as an alternative to burlesque, reality TV and bad boy bands, they formed at drinking spot The George Tavern, their official HQ nesting/stomping/rehearsal ground and general home-from-home.
Who says there can’t be a non-novelty, all girl alternative choir, spectacular, attractive and talented in equal measure?
Coughlin - formerly of 586 - started out with a clear vision of what she wanted: to create an all-female choir. Except y’know, with a non-church vibe. You would think that with 21 team members it might be difficult to keep everyone happy but the group have always shared the same aspirations - as intellectuals and feminists with the aim of making music but doing something different: “Something that didn’t already exist, the group is a landscape - a work of art.” Read more.
August 24, 2009
Doo Wop singer Johnny Carter dies at 75
Soul crooner Johnny Carter, who was a member of doo-wop groups The Dells and The Flamingos, has died aged 75. The musician, who was famed for his falsetto vocals, was one of the few artists to be inducted into the US Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with two acts.
He left The Flamingos in 1956, later joining The Dells, performing on their best-known hit Oh What A Night. One of the band's last public concerts was in Chicago five years ago to celebrate their Hall of Fame induction.
The group toured extensively with Ray Charles, and later came under the tutelage of Quincy Jones, who broadened their singing repertoire. They served as advisers on 1991 film The Five Heartbeats, which was based on their career.
Carter performed lead falsetto on Oh What A Night, which was first recorded in 1954 but became a hit when it was re-released 15 years later. Their other notable hits included Stay In My Corner, which was one of the first R&B songs to run to six minutes. Carter's first group The Flamingos were honoured with a Hall of Fame induction in 2001.
August 20, 2009
Tonic Sol-fa takes a liking to country
Argus Leader (SD):
Minneapolis a capella group Tonic Sol-fa reworked cover songs from Fatboy Slim, Keith Urban and Alison Krauss for the band's latest album. Members of the quartet say even country music fans will find something to like on their eighth album, "Just One of Those Days." In fact, Tonic Sol-fa could even develop a country music following. "We just may," Mark McGowan says during a phone interview. "We have a fondness for country music."
Tonic Sol-fa performs Friday in Sioux Falls, as part of a fundraiser for Holy Spirit Church. The group includes Sioux Falls native Greg Bannwarth (tenor), McGowan (baritone), lead vocalist Shaun Johnson and Jared Dove (bass).
Choosing songs that can adapt to the group's signature a capella style would seem challenging. But members say it comes down to likeability and how well the song can potentially fit the group. "Ultimately we find songs we like, trying to come up with a basic arrangement. Whether or not it continues or makes the cut is how well it translates," Bannwarth says. "This Old Pair of Jeans" by DJ/remix artist Fatboy Slim "happened to work well. ... It sat well with our voices," Bannwarth says.
The album, which the group recorded with Grammy-award winning producer Steve Hodge, also contains fan requests and favorites. Working with Hodge was beneficial for the group, as members previously had worked with the producer. "As an engineer and producer, he knows what we want, how to get that song. It's been fun working with him," Bannwarth says. The title track relates to a number of audience members, says Bannwarth. "Every show (fans) want to know the reason why (we wrote the song). They think it relates to their day. It's open enough," he says.
That's the goal for all of the Tonic Sol-fa songs, he says. "When we are listening to these songs or write them, (we want) them to be relative to people." Tonic Sol-fa included the song "Highway Patrol" because of fan requests. The song, originally recorded by Junior Brown, lightheartedly tells a policeman's side of the story working on the job.
The band recorded a new PBS special this past year in Des Moines, which will air this fall. It will include non-holiday music from the group's repertoire. "We're excited to see what response this garners for us. ... The first PBS special was huge for us, playing for hundreds of stations across the country," Dove says.
August 17, 2009
The voices of A Cappellastock
Salt Lake Tribune (UT):
This month marks the 40th anniversary of the Woodstock Music Festival's weekend of "sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll," the grandaddy of music festivals, which became an icon of rock music lovers and their counterculture lifestyle. Now comes another music festival, Ogden's sixth annual A Cappellastock, and one of this year's featured performers, baritone Jeff Peterson, of the host band T Minus 5, makes the comparison. "The name 'A Cappellastock' does correlate to Woodstock simply because it's a big musical celebration with a sense of community, but without quite as much nudity," Peterson quipped. "We play to a family-friendly audience -- no free love, but the feel good part still matches."
Peterson and band members, tenors Jared Allen and Karsten Longhurst, as well as bass Jason "Fish" Salmond and vocal percussionist Shawn Satterthwaite, have created one of Utah's premiere a cappella groups. And family-friendly is right, as the Ogden quintet consists of fathers from their 20s to 40s, with a total of 17 children between them.
All of the singers are Northern Utah natives, who became friends while singing together in Weber State University choral groups. Now the singers perform about 50 times a year for business functions, city celebrations, arts festivals and fund-raisers.
The singers describe their group as a vocal band, distinctive from other a cappella groups by their aim to create a full-band sound -- without instruments -- thanks to
use of electronic special effects. "It's the sound system that really separates us from old-school a cappella," Longhurst said. "It turns Shawn's spitting and popping into kicking and snaring." Read more.
August 14, 2009
Song leaders weigh in on old vs. new, the future of church singing
As you may know the denomination Church of Christ has always sung a cappella in church. There is a rather interesting article in the Christian Chronicle about a cappella singing and the changes the Church is experiencing. Read the article here.
August 12, 2009
Magnets at the Udderbelly
The Magnets are currently performing their new show "Gobsmacked" daily thru 31st August at the curiously shaped Udderbelly venue as a part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Above they perform Lady Gaga's "Poker Face." Tickets.
August 11, 2009
It was hard to come back down to earth after Saturday’s concert by Cappella Romana left the audience suspended in a zone of otherworldly beauty. The Portland-based vocal chamber choir gave its first-ever summer offering in the area at West Seattle's Holy Rosary Church — a stop on its tour northward to perform in this year’s MusicFest Vancouver.
Cappella Romana was founded in 1991 by Alexander Lingas, an acclaimed scholar and interpreter who holds triple citizenship (U.S., Canadian, and Greek) and who was on hand to rehearse and conduct the current tour. (See a rehearsal clip here. ) Can this group really still be such a well-kept secret in Seattle? The ensemble occupies a niche all its own — not just in the Northwest’s notable early music scene but for fans of contemporary choral music as well. It also stands apart as one of the few Northwest chamber choirs composed entirely of paid professional singers.
Westerners tend to think of chant in its familiar guise as the Gregorian chant of the Roman Catholic Church. But there is a whole other world that is its counterpart and is the central focus of Cappella Romana: the liturgical music of the Eastern Orthodox Church. The ensemble explores and champions the splendid variety of Byzantine and Slavic sacred music traditions. Its name refers to the post-Western Empire idea of Constantinople as the new Rome — the focal point where East and West come together. Cappella Romana’s signature programs might center around such topics as medieval Byzantine chant or ceremonial music written for the Hagia Sophia. (These can also be found in its current discography.)
Yet it also promotes the work of living composers who tap into various aspects of the Orthodox tradition, from the British Ivan Moody and John Tavener to the Greek-Canadian Christos Hatzis. Read more.
August 10, 2009
Tehran Vocal Ensemble
I was recently sent this announcement along with the flyer for their upcoming show. If only there were more cultural exchanges between our countries which I'm sure would foster better understanding and less suspicion. I notice how the choir has both male and female singers which must be rare in Muslim countries. Once again group singing brings different people together in harmony.
The Tehran Vocal Ensemble conducted by Milad Omranlu grabbed two medals in the 2nd Asian Choir Games which took place in South Korea. The Asian Choir Games is part of the first World Choir Championships, which ran from July 7 to 17 in the province of Gyeongnam in South Korea.
Iran won its gold medal at the Mixed Chamber Choirs section, and its silver medal was presented at the Folklore section. INTERKULTUR in collaboration with the Province of Gyeongnam arranged the event in which top choirs from around the world were invited to compare their skills in a contest.
The 16-member ensemble had three performances. They performed Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumble Bee” and Alireza Qorbani’s “Carnival” at the competition section. They also had two folk pieces from Gilan and Azerbaijan Provinces at the Folklore Section.
The ensemble performed the pieces without being accompanied by any musical instruments. The team was established by Omranlu in 2005. Each member acts as one specific musical instrument and produces new sounds making it a different group. Deputy Culture Minister for Artistic Affairs Mohammad-Hossein Imani-Khoshkhu expressed his congratulations to the Tehran Vocal Ensemble.
August 8, 2009
Today Show follows Ball In The House
The Today Show follows Boston's Ball in the House as they head to L.A. to compete in America's Got Talent
August 7, 2009
The Sing-Off audition dates
I received a call today from the casting folks for the upcoming NBC show to ask me to get the word out on their audition dates. So far the format calls for 8 groups with one being eliminated each week. The winner gets a recording contract with Sony. Selected groups will be flown to LA and will be provided accommodation. It appears groups still in the competition will be expected to stay in LA until they are eliminated or win. All the groups are required to return for the final show. Details on per diem was still being discussed.
The requirements are:-
- Groups must consist of four to ten members
- Please prepare two vocal performances – each no longer than three minutes. Groups might not perform both songs but be prepared. One piece must be a recognizable cover song.
- Medleys are allowed but must be no longer than three minutes.
- Any musical styles are accepted.
- Microphones will be provided at open call auditions.
- Each member must bring a copy of valid ID to audition.
A blurb from their press release about the show:-
Groups will rehearse and sing the world’s most popular songs, arranged and performed like you've never heard them…no lip-synching, no back-up bands, no safety net. They will compete weekly in front of the show’s panel of professional experts. One group will be eliminated each episode and America will decide in our live finale who will be the nation’s best a cappella group and will walk away with the ultimate prize.
August 5, 2009
Sisters With Voices: The L.A. Ladies Choir
“We have restrictions in every other place in our lives, so I wanted the choir to be a place where there are no rules, where we just enjoy each other,” says Aska Matsumiya, one of the two leaders, along with Lavender Diamond’s Becky Stark, of the L.A. Ladies Choir. “Actually,” she says, correcting herself, we do have one rule: “Sing joyfully.”
In a city crammed with noise, punk, metal and thug bands, the L.A. Ladies Choir seems downright radical: a group that is exactly what its name implies. But that’s the simple truth: They seem to have no ulterior motives other than to spread the proverbial peace and love. For real, a fluttering, unironic rainbow of pastel-colored vintage dresses, genuine smiles and beautiful faces. (This isn’t a requirement in the Ladies Choir, just some freakish accident.) Upon closer inspection, what becomes obvious is that each member’s beauty is a result of Matsumiya’s golden rule.
Formed in January after what seems to be a fated meeting, the choir gave its first performance, fittingly, on Valentine’s Day at the Aaron Rose–curated show “Passion for the Possible” at the California State University Northridge Art Galleries. The exhibit’s focus was Sister Corita, a sister of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Order, famous for her antiwar lithographs during the Vietnam War. She serves as a powerful source of inspiration for the group. “If the Ladies Choir was a religion, Sister Corita would be our god,” says Matsumiya, who also performs in Moonrats, AsDSSka and Aaron Rose’s band, the Sads.
Stark was inspired to form some sort of choir a few years ago, after she’d finished writing music for the Tom Hanks–produced film City of Ember, which came out last fall. “It’s this story about an underground city,” she explains. Her friend, the director Gil Kenan (whom she’d met at the Smell), recruited her for the project. “[He] asked if I wanted to write postapocalyptic children’s hymns for this movie. And I just said, like, ‘Yes!’ ”
Stark speaks in excited gasps over the phone. “Making the music for that film was the most unbelievable experience ever, and it left me totally wanting so much to make music with a choir. The experience of singing together is so powerful. I had choral parts I wanted to try, but I wanted it to be a ladies choir for myself and for the world.” Read more.
Have been away the past week or so enjoying our annual family vacation to Graeagle, our special Shangri La in the Sierras. It was a most enjoyable time and we will be back again next year for sure. And so now back to work. The blog shall now resume.