April 30, 2010
One less Lad
Corrado "Connie" Codarini, an original member of the popular Canadian all-male singing group The Four Lads, died Wednesday in Concord, N.C., his son said. He was 80. A cause of death was not provided.
The Four Lads had many gold singles and albums, including million-selling hits Moments to Remember; Standin' on the Corner; No, Not Much; Who Needs You; and Istanbul. The group was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1984.
Codarini, a bass singer, and the other three founding members - tenor Bernie Toorish, lead Jimmy Arnold and baritone Frank Busseri - learned to sing as members of the St. Michael's Choir School in Toronto.
April 20, 2010
Casting call for Sing-Off season 2
Here comes season two! I spoke today with Michelle McNulty, casting director for the series, and she is excited about finding this season's participants. She is looking for groups of all styles with between 4 and 12 members. More details here.
I'm so pleased that the Sing Off has been picked up for a second season which promises to be larger and almost certainly more promoted than season one. Prime time a cappella is a very good thing indeed.
April 16, 2010
New York Voices
San Diego Reader (CA):
“The world is so strange,” says Lauren Kinhan, the “new girl” of New York Voices who has been with the quartet for 18 of its 22 years.
Kinhan and the other three members have almost called it quits more than once since the group’s inception in 1987. But then, she says, “There will be a call shortly after [the decision to break up], and it’s, say, the Boston Pops calling: ‘We’d like to set a whole Christmas program, and we’re going to do a 26-day tour and pay all your arrangements.’ And we go, ‘Crap. Maybe we’re not done.’ ”
Along the way, performing opportunities just keep coming up. “The next thing you know,” says Darmon Meader, the group’s musical director, “two more years have gone by.”
One of the secrets to the longevity of New York Voices, says the group, is balance. Each member has his or her own solo projects and other musical endeavors, and each member has to leave enough room for the work they do together. “When [New York Voices] was the sole focus of most of our lives, early on,” says Kinhan, “any outside endeavor shook the fabric of the group.”
After intermission, New York Voices took the stage. The ladies were resplendent in long gowns — Kinhan’s green with layers of ruffles and Kim Nazarian’s brown with a bejeweled neckline.
They began their set with the peppy sounds of “Sing, Sing, Sing” (also the title of their sixth CD) and the Jobim classic “Desafinado,” both backed by the orchestra. Next they performed an a cappella version of “Almost Like Being in Love” from the 1947 musical Brigadoon. Then, with Peter Eldrige on piano, the quartet sang two Paul Simon songs, “Mother and Child Reunion” and “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard.” The rest of the set included an a cappella version of 1968’s “Stoned Soul Picnic,” “Stardust,” and a Beatles medley that inspired Nazarian to dance and rock out while she sang. For an encore — after a tease that they might perform “Bohemian Rhapsody,” eliciting a gasp from the audience — the group performed the Beatles’ “In My Life.” Read more.
April 15, 2010
Taylor Swift Teams Up with the Tritones
Taylor Swift is gearing up for her performance at the 2010 American Country Music Awards in Las Vegas this weekend — and is taking UC San Diego’s Tritone’s with her!
The 20-year-old country star fell in love with the group’s a cappella rendition of her song “You Belong With Me” on YouTube. Taylor was so impressed that not only did she track down their student manager to ask if they’d be interested in recording another of her songs, but she also invited the group to sing with her on Sunday.
April 13, 2010
Jersey Boys sue singers over rival show
The team behind the hit musical Jersey Boys has launched a copyright infringement lawsuit against a touring stage show called The Boys in Concert , charging that the rival production is a ripoff of the Tony Award-winning blockbuster. The suit was filed in Manhattan Federal Court late last week and made public on Monday.
Winner of four Tony Awards in 2006 (including best musical), Jersey Boys charts the rags-to-riches story of singing group Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.
In court documents, the plaintiffs — who include original Four Seasons members Frankie Valli and Robert Gaudio — allege that The Boys attempts to fool theatregoers into believing it is an "authorized road company" of Jersey Boys by copying songs, dialogue, its overall look, staging, as well as marketing and advertising campaigns.
The plaintiffs also accused the rival production of choosing a name "confusingly similar" to theirs for performances in cities such as New York, Atlantic City, N.J., Chicago and Los Angeles. The lawsuit calls for an injunction against further performances of The Boys that use similar materials, $150,000 US for each of 10 copyrighted songs from Jersey Boys performed in the rival show and unspecified damages.
With a spate of U.S. concerts currently scheduled through October, The Boys features former Jersey Boys stars, including Christian Hoff, who won a best featured actor Tony for his portrayal of Tommy DeVito in the original Broadway cast. Other performers named in the suit include Daniel Reichard, J. Robert Spencer, Drew Gehling, Michael Longoria and Matthew Scott.
The production is billed as a musical celebration that spans songs "from the Beach Boys to Motown … and of course … the Four Seasons!" and notes the cast members' past experience performing in Jersey Boys.
April 12, 2010
Bobby McFerrin's Improv-Inspired 'Vocabularies'
NPR Weekend Edition
Bobby McFerrin was featured on NPR this weekend. Listen here.
Sing Off to have 8 shows
It seems to be official that the Sing Off will be having 8 episodes in the next season with the likelihood that it will air starting in November.
April 11, 2010
April 10, 2010
German Unemployed Get A Boost Through Singing
In the German city where J.S. Bach was a choirmaster, Sarie Teichfischer is using music to ease the plight of people in Leipzig who, like her, have lost their jobs. She co-founded and manages the Bohemian Choir, an effort to help the unemployed.
Her city, one of the biggest in the former East Germany, is still struggling to come to terms with its post-communist identity. Leipzig has one of the highest jobless rates in the country that is Europe's largest economy — nearly 15 percent. Teichfischer, 31, lost her job in publishing two years ago.
"We thought if you bring people together who have the same situation, then things will be much easier to form a social network," she says. "It's really worked out." She and about three dozen others meet two mornings a week inside a lovely but neglected 19th century stone mansion that serves as an arts and community center.
Three quarters of the men and women in the choir are jobless, and half have been unemployed for more than five years. A few retirees have also joined. Joining is voluntary and doesn't affect members' unemployment benefits, which in some cases are among the more generous in Europe. For many, the rehearsals provide the structure and human contact they miss from being on the job.
Piotr Selend, who lost his job as a university technician nearly a decade ago, says he once thought about jumping in front of a train. "But before I made it as far as the tracks, I walked past here and saw a big poster advertising a new choir. It read: 'First rehearsal today. No need to be afraid if you can't sing. Everyone welcome!' " says Selend, 54. "So, I walked into the community center instead of going to the station." He says the choir makes him feel like he's back at work. "You realize you're needed and you're valued again."
Teichfischer says she gets goose bumps from watching members regain their confidence. "I see people opening up, and new hairstyles, new outfits, which means the pride is building up again, and the dignity is coming back, and that is the best thing," she says.
She adds that like most of her fellow choir members, she is actively looking for work. Her only big fear in getting a new job, Teichfischer says, is that she'd have to give up the choir. Listen.
April 8, 2010
Home Free mixes humor and five-part harmony
Home Free, an up-and-coming a capella group that mixes laughter and silliness with stellar vocals, will hit the Marie W. Heider stage on Thursday, April 15. “We don’t stand just stand around and sing doo-wop songs,” said Matt Atwood, one of the five members of the group (the others are Rob Lundquist, Tim Foust and brothers Chris and Adam Rupp).
Home Free — which performs an expansive mix ranging from pop songs, to classical music to TV theme songs to techno — is based in the Twin Cities area. The group travels with its own sound system and sound man and their show features a lot of back and forth with the audience between and during songs.
“We’re very interactive,” Atwood said. “There’s a lot of humor. We pass out ballots and pencils, ask people to identify TV show theme songs and award them prizes. Another thing that audiences really like is our ‘Songs that Didn’t Make the Cut’ portion of the show. That’s where we do some really awful songs that everyone remembers.”
Last fall, they finished a 45-city national tour. “The guy who booked us was a little hesitant because he’d booked other a capella bands that hadn’t done all that well,” Atwood recalled. “But it turned out to be incredibly successful. Since then, the bookings have been flying off the shelf.”
The group took a break over the winter to record a Christmas album that was just finished last week. “I know it sounds strange as far as the timing, but we are working on developing a Christmas show for next year. Right now we’ll just sell the album at concerts and to family and hard-core fans, but we expect to sell more next fall,” Atwood said.
Home Free got its start at a church talent show about 10 years ago. “Afterwards, people kept coming up to us and saying ‘We want to book you’ and we would think ‘But we only know one song!’” Atwood recalled. Since then, Home Free has greatly expanded its repertoire. Adam Rupp provides the punch with his “explosive” vocal percussion technique. He, his brother Chris, and Atwood have been singing together since they were kids.
Home Free is headed back out on the road this week — the West Salem appearance will be one of the first of their spring tour. Atwood said that for an a capella group that creates all the sounds for its concerts with their voices, personal health is absolutely critical. “People don’t realize that, even if you’re not singing lead, you’re still singing background. You have to be very strong vocally and you can never take a break. “When we’re on tour there’s no smoking or drinking. We have to watch our health because there’s no way we could do this if we weren’t all strong.”
At this point all the members of the group have flexible jobs that allow them to go out on the road for months at a time, but Home Free’s rising popularity has Atwood hoping those part-time jobs won’t be necessary for too much longer. “We’re very close to making this a full-time gig,” he said.
Home Free are Chicago Harmony Sweepstakes Champs and will be performing at the National Finals.
April 6, 2010
The Sixteen disappoints
The Guardian (UK):
Harry Christophers and his choral group were in residence at the Queen Elizabeth Hall during the Easter weekend. As well as leading choral workshops, the Sixteen gave three concerts, devoted to the sacred music of the gothic revolution, Tudor England and Renaissance Italy in turn. Ranging from Pérotin to Palestrina, it promised to be a feast of some of the greatest choral music ever composed. Yet, if the first concert was representative, those who bought tickets expecting such a treat will have gone away feeling short-changed.
The opening concert, concentrating on Paris in the 12th century, was little more than a screening of the first instalment of the BBC's original Sacred Music series, shown in 2008, with Christophers and five of his male singers providing longer extracts of the music excerpted in the programme. The whole "concert" lasted 75 minutes without a break, of which less than 30 were devoted to live music of any kind. The chance to hear more of these pieces by the Notre Dame school, led by Léonin and Pérotin, so important in the development of polyphony out of plainsong yet so rarely performed today, was squandered.
The enterprise seemed ill-judged. Those who turned up because they had enjoyed the TV series must have expected more than just a rerun of what they had already watched; those who went to hear the music will have been thoroughly unimpressed. To make it even more tacky, the live performances were electronically "enhanced" – presumably an attempt to simulate the acoustic of St Denis in Paris, where the extracts for the programmes had been recorded, but really sounding more like the soundtrack to a 1950s sci-fi movie. Gruesome.