October 28, 2010
Von Trapp Family still singing
I received today my much anticipated new Blu Ray release of The Sound of Music and today also was the cast reunion on Oprah. As a kid my sister was in love with the film and played the soundtrack seemingly continuously for a year.. It was probably the first time I learnt to appreciate group singing and of course it is such a wonderful collection of songs. My daughter has already learnt most of them so there will be plenty of family singing in our home this weekend!
For those who don't know the story the Von Trapp family emigrated to the US after they fled Austria and toured successfully as a singing act - usually all a cappella. Here's a CD of the original group. The tradition of singing unaccompanied continues with the grand children who often perform a cappella. Here they are singing today on Oprah.
Independent classical podcast: Eric Whitacre
The Independent (UK):
There could be no better illustration of the globe-shrinking power of the internet that Eric Whitacre's 'virtual choir' recording of his own Lux Aurumque. Edited from 185 separately recorded vocal parts from singers around the world, each performer individually guided by Whitacre's own conductor's video, the piece has become a YouTube phenomenon.
Whitacre's own story is no less astonishing. The fair-haired kid who looked like a throwback to the Beach Boys era had no formal musical training until he was 18 years old. The money from a McDonald's TV commercial bought him a synthesizer and a drum machine and with those tools he started writing songs in imitation of his pop heroes Yaz and Depeche Mode.
Nothing, though, could have prepared him for the epiphany of joining the University of Nevada choir and running through the Kyrie from Mozart's Requiem on the first day of rehearsal. From that moment his extraordinarily evocative choral music began to evolve.
That music is now sung all over the world and his debut album for Decca Light and Gold enshrines a haunting cross-section of it. In this exclusive audio podcast with Edward Seckerson, Whitacre tells of his amazing journey, his myriad influences - everyone from Radiohead to Rodgers and Hammerstein, his love affair with the human voice, and an ambitious new high-tec stage musical Paradise Lost - Shadows and Wings. Listen to the podcast.
October 27, 2010
Columbia Kingsmen offend
Columbia University's male a cappella group The Kingsmen offended many on campus with a recent distasteful poster advertising one of their shows. What would possess somebody to create such a awful thing completely escapes me - especially students of such a prestigious university. The most tasteless thing by far I have ever seen by an a cappella group. Read about the matter here
October 26, 2010
The pleasures of the untrained voice
An interesting post from Chris Rowberry on his From The Front of the Choir blog about the "untrained voice":-
"I was watching the Culture Show on BBC2 last week. Ben Lewis introduced a piece about Turner Prize nominee Susan Philipsz and referred to her “untrained singing voice”.
This got me thinking. Why had he bothered to say it was untrained (it sounded good to me)? What do we mean by ‘untrained’? And why do we need to make the distinction between ‘trained’ and ‘untrained’ singing voices?
Why did he need to say that her voice was ‘untrained’ and what exactly did he mean by that?
Here are some reasons that I can think of why someone would want to refer to a voice as ‘untrained’:
* grudging praise — “her voice is really quite good even though she’s never had any singing lessons”
* politeness — “his singing voice is pretty awful, but it would be rude if I said that directly”
* being a snob — “of course, she’s not a proper singer as she hasn’t been trained”
* real vs. artificial — “his voice sounds authentic, not like those trained opera singers”
But what does it mean when we say that someone has an ‘untrained’ voice? Is it possible to tell by just listening?"
October 25, 2010
Stile Antico: Tiny Desk Concert
There's nothing particularly funny about most 16th-century choral music, but the young members of the a cappella ensemble Stile Antico cracked themselves up the entire time they sound checked for this Tiny Desk Concert. A distinctive brand of humor bubbled up within this close-knit group — perhaps a side effect of the five-hour drive they had just made from North Carolina.
But when the cameras started rolling, they were all business — and it's no wonder they've been called "the jewel of English a cappella singing." You would think the strength of a dozen singers would blow away everyone in our small office space, but Stile Antico's music had the opposite effect. The pure, ethereal sound drew our audience in completely. Read more and watch video here.
One big advantage a cappella groups have over other bands is the ability to perform in a small space without a bunch of equipment. This is perfect for radio and over the years I have had good success getting radio interviews and on air performances for groups. Offering to sing a cute radio station ID for them is a often a clincher..
October 24, 2010
MAXX Factor crowned Queens of Harmony
Congratulations to 2009 Harmony Sweepstakes National Champs and Sing-Off finalists MAXX Factor who won the Sweet Adelines International Competition this weekend in Seattle. They are some of the nicest ladies I have had the pleasure of working with and finer ambassadors for the close harmony sound would be tough to find. Well done! Silver went to Journey and bronze to Capri. A special shout out to fourth place The Love Notes, Bay Area Sweeps Champs and National Finals Audience Favorites.
Winners of the chorus competition is the Scottsdale Chorus with The Harborlites coming second and North Metro Chorus third. The Rising Star competition was won by Royal Blush.
October 22, 2010
Sing Off announces season 2 line up
NBC has announced the competitors and schedule for season two of the cappella competition The Sing-Off.
The series will premiere December 6th (8-10 p.m. ET) and continue on December 8, 13 and 15. These two hour shows were prerecorded however the final show will be broadcast live on December 20th.
The competing groups are:-
Committed from Huntsville, Alabama
Eleventh Hour from Kettering, Ohio
Pitch Slapped from Boston, Massachusetts
Groove For Thought from Seattle, Washington
Jerry Lawson & Talk Of The Town from Oakland, California
Men Of Note from Cherry Hill, New Jersey
The Backbeats from Los Angeles, California
On The Rocks from Eugene, Oregon
Street Corner Symphony from Nashville, Tennessee
The Whiffenpoofs from New Haven, Connecticut
Returning celebrity judges Ben Folds who recently released the CD “Lonely Avenue,” a collaboration with novelist Nick Hornby, Shawn Stockman and Nicole Scherzinger will critique each performance, narrowing down the finalists to the top three groups competing for America’s vote.
Returning for a special performance will be Nota, the winner of the show’s freshman season in 2009.
In conjunction with the second season of “The Sing-Off,” Epic Records will be releasing digital tracks of each group’s performance immediately following the airing of each episode. All 10 competing groups from the upcoming season will also be featured on “The Sing-Off: Harmonies for the Holidays” being released by Epic Records on November 30.
October 21, 2010
Getting on their bikes for a song!
Yeovil Express (UK):
The all-singing and all-cycling male voice quartet SongCycle will be performing at Martock Church on Thursday, October 28, from 7.30pm. SongCycle was formed in 1996 to raise money for charity by cycling from church to church. In their last 15 charity rides they cycled 517 miles, visited 504 churches and raised over £24,000.
They sing a variety of styles, from Bach to the Beatles. Their style is not barbershop, but a la King’s Singers, their repertoire ranging from sacred motets and anthems to Lennon & McCartney and Billy Joel. And their renditions of Postman Pat and Bob the Builder are not to be missed.
They perform at concerts, weddings, harvest suppers and choral services at churches throughout the country. For the past seven years they have sung the daily services for a week at Exeter Cathedral and services at Bath Abbey, Wells and Truro Cathedrals.
October 20, 2010
Brady Allred resigns
Salt Lake Tribune (UT):
Brady Allred, director of choral studies at the University of Utah’s school of music, resigned from his position over the weekend, leaving behind an endowed chair and scores of music students enamored by his skills as a teacher.
“While I will greatly miss working day to day as a member of the music faculty, unexpected personal and family circumstances have necessitated this change,” said Allred, who is married and the father of four daughters, in a statement issued over the weekend. “My family and I feel that it is the best decision for us. I have every confidence that my colleagues and the students in the school of music will continue to thrive.”
Robert Baldwin, interim director of the U.’s music school, informed students of Allred’s decision during Monday classes. In late September, Allred had applied for four weeks of personal leave, and graduate students had temporarily taken over his teaching and directing responsibilities, Baldwin said.
Monday’s announcement still came as a shock to most students. “We’ve been worried about him, but we have to respect his privacy,” said Paul May, 21, a music major who has studied for two years under Allred.
On Monday, students inside and outside the U.’s Gardner Hall said Allred will be remembered for a seven-year tenure in which he built an established choral program into one of international stature.
Allred directed the school’s A Cappella Choir, with 90 voices, and the elite auditioned choir of University Singers, with 45 junior and senior students. He led the University Singers on tours to Israel, Spain, Germany and France, where the group won top international prizes.
“I don’t understand his reasons for resigning, but I respect and remember him as a fine man and a great musician,” said Christopher Johnson, 25, who sang with the University Singers under Allred. Read more.
October 19, 2010
Branson’s SIX is a perfect “10”
The advertising for the Branson show SIX says, “You have to see it to believe it,” “Your eyes won’t believe your ears” and “You won’t believe what comes out of their mouths.” Having seen the show a number of times, most recently this week, all this writer can say is, “You have to see and hear it to believe it. These guys are the real deal.”
In a town many refer to as “The live music show capital of the world,” where quality music and comedy shows are a daily reality, there is a reason why SIX is one of the hottest tickets in Branson and is playing to packed houses even for its matinee performances. This writer believes it is because SIX stands out as one of the most unique, amazing, personable and entertaining shows in all of Branson.
There’s an old adage “What you see is what you get.” Anyone who has seen the SIX show however, knows that their performance is proof positive that is not true. What you see for the whole show is six of the Knudsen brothers singing A cappella. In order of age that would be Barry, Kevin, Lynn, Jak, Owen and Curtis.
What you won’t see is any live band. Yet what you will experience is two hours of the most unique, exciting and memorable music you will ever hear including great vocals and the sound of a band. The remarkable thing is all the sounds, vocal and instrumental are coming from the same place, “the mouths” of the SIX Knudsen brothers. It truly is an amazing thing to see and hear.
SIX has one of the most unusual cast introductions ever. As each brother is introduced they “play” their instrument drums, trumpet, bass etc., but here is no instrument. They are truly “an orchestra of human voices.” What’s strange is that even after the introduction you’ll find yourself looking for the instruments because there is no way those sounds could be coming from them, but it is. Read more.
Cantus captures American essence
Minneapolis Star Tribune (MN):
It's a bit of an exaggeration to suggest that Cantus' "Before Us" captures a full expression of the American identity, but not much of one. In a scant 90 minutes of music, heard Friday night at St. Olaf Catholic Church in Minneapolis, the a cappella male vocal ensemble presented a survey of indigenous and immigrant songs.
The compelling program would mean little were it not so well performed. Their full-throated rendition of Sibelius' "Finlandia Hymn" (representative of Minnesota's Scandinavian heritage) betrayed their classical training and sounded like it came from an ensemble much larger than its nine members. "Lamentation Over Boston" by William Billings, the father of American sacred music, was likewise sung with classical purity, but with enough passion to make its reaction to a violent Revolutionary War battle deeply affecting.
One of the special moments was Lee Hoiby's "Last Letter Home," from a soldier killed in Iraq. His heart-rending music enriched without overpowering the deeply moving text. The result captured the overwhelming human cost of war. Another highlight was "Envoyons d'l'Avant Nos Gens," a song of the French voyageurs, early visitors to Minnesota. This "paddling song" inspired some particularly character-full singing, capturing a sense of the rough-hewn woodsmen.
A Lakota song followed. "Lakota Wiyanki" was a culturally sensitive expression of the Native American tradition without losing the Cantus sound. Adversely, the attempt at historical authenticity in "Pretty Saro," an Appalachian folk song, seemed condescending. This was a minor infraction in such a successful evening.
The program included much traditional sacred music such as "Sweet By and By," "Simple Gifts" and the African-American spiritual, "I Can't Tarry." In these, the ensemble found an enduring spirituality in the rich hymnody.
October 18, 2010
Stile Antico’s polyphony exquisitely emotional
Boston Globe (MA):
The chorus Stile Antico has, in a remarkably short time, gone from being a rookie on the early-music scene to one of its MVPs. Made up of 13 astonishingly talented British singers, the group has injected a dose of emotional intensity into its performances of Renaissance polyphony, music often presented with a cool, distant beauty. Stile Antico made its US debut last year at the Boston Early Music Festival; on Friday, the festival led off its current concert series with a return visit. Judging from the large and attentive audience that filled St. Paul’s Church for this remarkable concert, the secret about the ensemble is out.
Part of what makes Stile Antico so compelling is that the group works without a conductor, so a performance gives the sense of an intimate conversation among friends. On Friday, that conversation touched on profound matters: The program, “In Paradisum,’’ focused on swan songs and memorials by Renaissance composers. Intimations of death were everywhere, whether in the transfixing sweetness of Byrd’s “Retire my soul,’’ the opener, or Dufay’s more intricate “Ave regina caelorum,’’ which he composed to be sung around his deathbed. Both were impeccably tuned and balanced, and the Dufay featured some unusual harmonic passages.
The long work on the program was John Sheppard’s monumental “Media vita,’’ at around 25 minutes, one of the largest unbroken movements of a cappella singing produced in the Renaissance. It’s difficult to imagine a better performance of this exhausting work; it was not only beautifully sung but perfectly structured, with careful attention to phrasing, bringing a listener from its hesitant opening to a spiritually ecstatic close. Read more.
The nerd turns: A cappella singers suddenly the popular kids on campus
Washington Post (DC):
When the Saxatones and the other five a cappella singing groups hold their annual rush at Georgetown University, hundreds of underclassmen race to sing for each ensemble. The audition process is so extensive that it might remind some students of getting into college in the first place: Paperwork and surveys. Ever-narrowing lists of callbacks. Passionate persuasion. Offers and rejections. Initiation ceremonies featuring singing, traditional rites and, most of the time, drinking.
For decades, a cappella was a tradition that thrived mainly at Ivy League institutions and small liberal arts schools. But a cappella is enjoying an explosion on all manner of campuses, with new groups popping up every year, burgeoning national a cappella competitions and, for the first time in about half a century, a high profile in the popular culture.
The popularity of a cappella has translated into tougher competition at the annual auditions. At Georgetown, each group generally fills a handful of spots each year, leading students to say that the odds of getting in are even steeper than those they faced to get into the highly selective college.
Experience isn't nearly as important as skill. Some who try out arrive on campus having spent years singing with a high school a cappella group. Others don't even know what a cappella is. (One former Saxatone still gets ribbed for having brought a guitar to his audition.) Most a cappella singers have no plans to pursue a musical career; they're just looking for a way to keep singing.
"I'm the kid who sings just walking around," said Tim DeVita, 18, a Georgetown freshman. He and a friend, Alex Field, studied the groups' Web sites and watched dozens of YouTube performances. They asked around to learn each group's reputation.
The campus's oldest group, the all-men Chimes, has been around since 1946. The Chimes have their own rowhouse near campus, don't usually sing anything more modern than the Beatles, and operate like a frat, with pledges who have to clean the house after keggers and aren't allowed to sit on the couches during rehearsals. Read more.
October 15, 2010
Perfect Harmony, Suddenly Homeless, Will Reopen
After losing its original Off-Broadway home due to a landlord dispute, Perfect Harmony, the play about a high school a cappella group on the tenuous road to "Nationals" competition, will make music at the Acorn Theatre beginning Oct. 21.
Following a pre-New York run at the Stoneham Theatre in Massachusetts, Perfect Harmony began Off-Broadway previews Oct. 8 in anticipation of an Oct. 17 opening at 45 Bleecker.
On Oct. 13 Perfect Harmony found itself without a home when the landlord suddenly closed the venue in a dispute with the theatre owner. The play was one of several which left producers scrambling to find alternate venues. One 45 Bleecker tenant, The Deep Throat Sex Scandal, shuttered due to the lock-out.
Perfect Harmony will now resume previews Oct. 21 and officially open Oct. 27 at the Acorn Theatre on Theatre Row with its original cast and creative team. Andrew Grosso and The Essentials co-wrote the play. Grosso also directs. Read more.
October 12, 2010
What is it about the boy's voice?
Daily Telegraph (UK):
Its appeal lies not only in its sheer beauty but also in its hints of mortality. Like a flower, it has its brief moment of glory and then it is gone.
The timbres of boys and girls are different – treasures that express young male-hood and female-hood. It's instinctive stuff. But to work, they need to be heard apart. Most pre-pubertal boys hate singing with girls, and if put in a mixed choir, they tend to vote with their feet, or feign a 'breaking voice'. Boys plus girls in a choir sooner or later means no boys. Witness the boy-girl ratio, and ages, in most so-called children's choirs.
Attempts by directors of mixed choirs to adjust older boys' and girls' voices to blend on the same line usually loses the distinctive character of both and the choir losing the lads. Boys' and girls' voices are unequal in tone and strength at the same age---most boys can out-sing most girls before puberty, so they are usually directed to under-sing so as not to drown the girls. Not that it's sheer power---more the boys' focused, plangent tonal quality.
Centuries of glorious music has been written specifically for boys and men in the traditional cathedral-type choir. Once Europe-wide, these expert ensembles are now largely confined to the British Isles, and shrinking in number. Meanwhile, mixed-voice adult chamber ensembles are presenting historic all-male repertoire as their very own.
Today's cultural values, negative peer-group pressures and the 'curse of cool' are turning many boys off singing. To sing at all, most boys need to be in a male team. But 'all-male' is out of favour and the boys are vanishing. No singing boys points to a bleak outlook for the supply of future men in choirs and choral societies.
October 11, 2010
The million pound boys speak.
The million-pound barbershop quartet The Great British Barbershop Boys talk here to ITN.
Well I just now decided something! I am going to make a concerted effort this upcoming Harmony Sweepstakes season to invite as many industry scouts, reps etc as possible to the National Finals. With the upcoming season of The Sing Off a cappella is in the spotlight again and I can see industry interest in finding a unique, talented group they can work with. Straight No Chaser is doing well but a smaller member ensemble would be easier to develop and market. Maybe this will be the season another group really breaks out from the Sweeps and land that major record deal..
October 9, 2010
NBC TODAY's Show Choir Showdown seeks applicants
The NBC Today Show has announced a competition for show choirs. You enter by submitting a video online with the winning group being flown to New York, put up for the night, and perform live on the show. They will fly up to 20 members plus chaperons. Sounds fun! More info and submission form here.
Review: No sign of vapid boy band antics
Grand Rapids Press (MI):
No stage fog. No singers dangling from marionette-like wires. And, best of all, no ear-piercing teen screams.
Before Rockapella even took the stage with the Grand Rapids Symphony at DeVos Performance Hall on Friday night, I had some scary flashbacks to the wild and vapid days of 'N Sync, The Backstreet Boys and 98 Degrees.
After all, I had a hunch the New York vocal quintet would employ some all-too-familiar pop harmonies and the occasional schlocky dance move or two.
But from the moment these talented guys opened their mouths to sing "Tonight," it was clear their approach and their vocal arrangements were far more sophisticated and enticing than anything those popular boy bands of yore ever attempted.
And they finished strong, too, with bracing a cappella renditions of the time-tested Drifters' hit "Up On the Roof" and Sam Cooke's "Wonderful World" during a brief encore.
The group's wholly unique spin on some classic pop/rock songs capitalized on what can only be described as brotherly, time-tested vocal synchronization and harmonization enhanced by a guy who plays the drums with his mouth.
Actually, Jeff Thacher doesn't play the drums with his mouth but rather mimics drums and percussion with vocals that defy description. I've never seen a "vocal percussionist" like this before but this guy's definitely got the beat (and probably a splitting headache to boot).
The rest of the group -- Scott Leonard (high tenor), George Baldi III (bass), Steven Dorian (tenor) and John K. Brown (second tenor) -- also proved its mettle throughout the evening, especially on a dramatically altered version of George Harrison's "Here Comes the Sun" and The Temptations' "Papa Was a Rolling Stone," which opened the second set. Read more.
October 8, 2010
Barbershop quartet land £1 million record deal
The Independent (UK):
An award-winning barbershop quartet is tackling a new style of cut - after landing a major record deal. The Great British Barbershop Boys, whose day jobs include working for the police and teaching, picked up their best tip yet after signing a seven-figure deal with Sony. Baritone Joe Knight, whose group will release an album of Christmas songs, said: "This deal is just truly amazing."
The harmonic four-piece was talent-spotted by record bosses when they appeared at the International Barbershop Convention in Philadelphia. They took the title of British Quartet champions in 2008. The Great British Barbershop Boys will release their debut album Christmas Time for Arista Records on December 6. Sony Music said the group signed a £1 million deal (US$1.6 million).
Knight, who lives in Nottingham and works for Nottinghamshire Police, said: "We are just four guys earning a living and getting on with our lives. "We have always done well with our barbershopping, but we started it as a means to socialize. This deal is just truly amazing."
Tenor Alan Hughes, a teacher based in Warrington, said the group - who had never thought of their music as a career choice - said they were looking forward to taking the traditional sound to a wider audience.
"The barbershop sound has survived around the world but underground for years. It will be superb to see it make a proper comeback in the charts," he said. Read more.
Wow! To my knowledge no US barbershop quartet has any kind of record deal let alone with a major label. There has been a dearth of new barbershop CD releases recently but if Sony is willing to bet a cool million pounds on a release then surely there is very much a market for barbershop recordings. Get in the studios guys (and gals) and let's get some fresh barbershop CDs out there.
October 7, 2010
Choir attempts record with cow-calling song
A choir of 2,000 attempted to set a world record on Saturday by singing one of Switzerland’s best-loved traditional songs, a herdsman’s melody from canton Fribourg. Saturday’s performance at Villars-sur-Glâne was recorded on camera, and a legal attestation will be sent to the Guinness Book of Records for approval.
The coordinator of the event, Véronique Monney, said the aim was not to break an existing record but to set one. However, she admitted to the “La Liberté” newspaper that it would be difficult to get it accepted.
The Gruyères Ranz des Vaches was originally an unaccompanied song used to call cows for milking, well known for its haunting “lyôba” refrain.
It is said that it was forbidden to sing the song in the presence of Swiss mercenary soldiers as it made them homesick and unable to fight. The composer Rossini used the melody in his famous William Tell overture.
October 6, 2010
The Brainwave Singers
The Scoop (New Zealand):
Last year saw the launch of New Zealand’s first choir offering music therapy for people with neurological conditions. The inspiration for the launch of this choir was the success of a similar choir in London.
Speech and Language therapist and cofounder of The Brainwave Singers Robin Matthews said “We know that singing makes us feel good. Now science is discovering how singing can help people suffering from Parkinson's to Aphasia (stroke),” he said.
Mr Matthews gave an example: Colin uses his inhaler less since he started attending a small Parkinson’s group using singing therapy. A Parkinson's sufferer, Colin had problems with his speech and voice, so he started attending fortnightly. The effect on his condition has been remarkable says his wife. “He breathes much more easily and has a stronger voice”.
Through attending the group, people with Parkinson’s have learned that they can use singing as a means of holding off the negative effects of this progressive neurological condition. “The theory is that Parkinson’s will most likely get the better of you if you let it, so throwing vocal and breathing exercises back at it, seems to go a long way to holding the symptoms at bay” says Robin Matthews.
“Singing uses different parts of the brain. To sing, you have to remember the tune and words, then fill your lungs with air, produce a voice and then coordinate your voice and breathing whilst singing the melody. For people with Parkinson’s, the coordination required helps produce a better, louder voice.”
“For people who have had a stroke; research shows that they can regain the ability to talk by learning to sing words they are unable to speak. If the brain’s language centres are damaged, neural plasticity – ‘rewiring’ the brain – may train the part of the brain responsible for singing to take over the speech functions.”
October 5, 2010
Social Network Trailer Lands Record Deal for women's choir Scala
The two-minute trailer for David Fincher's "The Social Network" features shots of alcohol-filled college parties, scantily clad teenage girls and Justin Timberlake -- seemingly the perfect recipe for a light teen comedy. Yet as a cover of Radiohead's "Creep" plays in the background -performed by a women's choir with minimal instrumentation - the preview takes on a haunting feeling that complements the drama's profile of Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg.
The spooky cover has helped the trailer earn 1.1 million YouTube views since its July release, and its creators -- 200-member Belgian girls' choir Scala and its classically trained leaders the Kolacny Brothers -- have been given an unexpected opportunity to find an American audience. On the eve of the Oct. 1 release of the Columbia Pictures film, the act has inked a U.S. deal with Rhino Entertainment imprint ATCO Records, Billboard can exclusively confirm.
As ATCO prepares for the fall release of "Circle," the group's latest batch of covers and original compositions, Rhino Entertainment president/CEO Kevin Gore believes the placement of "Creep" in "The Social Network" trailer will be the first of many for the act.
"Familiar songs always have good opportunities behind them," Gore says, "and Scala & Kolacny Brothers have been able to give their covers that unique twist."
Pianist Steven Kolacny and conductor Stijn Kolacny held their first rehearsal with the then-18-member Scala Choir in April 1996. After strictly working with classical music and winning a Belgian choir competition in 2000, Steven started arranging rock songs to fit the choral format in 2001.
"It was just boring to do what all the other choirs were doing," he says. "We made the first rock arrangements not really knowing what the results would be. I wanted to use [the choir] as a sort of solo singer, but with multiple voices behind it." Read more.
October 4, 2010
Music presentation is fit for King Henry's court
Washington Post (DC):
The Folger Consort's latest program of Renaissance music, "Pastime With Good Company," lived up to its name. This outstanding selection of secular and sacred music from around the reign of King Henry VIII, heard Saturday evening, was timed to coincide with the upcoming production of Shakespeare's "Henry VIII" at the Folger Theatre. It was music worth hearing, most of it not familiar, performed with sensitivity and polish.
Sacred music for the Chapel Royal, performed by the six-man vocal ensemble Lionheart, was the most strikingly beautiful. Movements from the "Meane Mass" of John Taverner and some of the Proper chants for Trinity Sunday provided a framework like that of a Mass. The polyphony was balanced among the six voices, generally distributed among three or four parts, with bass Kurt-Owen Richards providing a solid but not growling foundation.
The sole countertenor (Lawrence Lipnik) was occasionally weak at the top of the texture, but that made the inner voices easier to distinguish. Most impressively, the ensemble switched effortlessly between the flowing, unmetered style of chant and the measured harmonies of unaccompanied polyphony, like William Cornysh's gorgeous motet "Ave Maria Mater Dei." The Renaissance English pronunciation of Latin observed by the singers, although justified by research, was jarring.
October 2, 2010
Carmina the choir cathedral cat
Talk about getting a higher calling and being on sacred ground. This cat gets it all. At the Washington National Cathedral's 2010 Blessing of the Animals Sunday, Carmina, the new cathedral cat will officially be welcomed.
The event marks the 734 anniversary of the death of Saint Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals and the environment, whose feast day the Cathedral celebrates with its Blessing of the Animals service.
"Carmina takes the place of Catherine of Tarragon, the much-beloved Cathedral cat who has retired in her old age to a home in North Carolina," said Cathedral Choral Society staffer Victoria Chamberlin.
Chamberlin led the charge for the Choral Society, the resident symphonic chorus of the Cathedral, to adopt Carmina during its audience sing-along of Carmina Burana last June.
Carmina was rescued by the Washington Humane Society and her litter of week-old kittens from a deserted parking lot in Southeast D.C. WHS spokesperson Sabrina Fang said: "We're thrilled that Carmina has found a home as beautiful as the National Cathedral."