April 26, 2012
A cappella crossing sign
One of our a cappella fans is also a sign maker and stopped by today with a gift of the above crossing sign he designed. It's a real outdoor durable aluminum sign just like the ubiquitous traffic signs. They cost under $20 and can be purchased here.
April 23, 2012
Sweet Adelines' new leader
For the past 16 years Sweet Adelines International has been managed by a team of mangers but now the board has decided to hire an executive director to take the helm. Welcome to Kelly Bailey who now holds this new position. Kelly is from Okalhoma where she was vice president of sponsored programs and administrative affairs at Oral Roberts University and experienced with the acquisition and procurement of grant programs, community relations’ initiatives and success in managing philanthropic campaigns.
April 18, 2012
The Vocal Big Band
I was recently sent this cool clip of The Singers Elite Vocal Big Band who perform classic arrangements of the big band era replacing the horns and strings with some of LA's top harmony singers. I spot Michele Weir, Randy Cranshaw, Elin Carlson (current Star Trek voice & formerly in Sixth Wave), Fletcher Sheridan (current high voice in m-pact) & Kim Switzer (L.A. Master Chorale).
April 17, 2012
Conspirare gets $1 million donation
Five-time Grammy-nominated Austin, Texas choral group Conspirare announced Wednesday a $2.2 million major gifts campaign with a $1 million donation from the Austin-based Kodosky Foundation, the largest in Conspirare's history. Additional gifts from Austin donors the Still Water Foundation and the Mattsson McHale Foundation have already brought the total to $1.5 million. The new campaign, called "A Legacy of Sound," is a five-year fundraising initiative to support more recordings, commission new works and expand touring. It's good to know that in these tough times there is still money to be found to support the arts. Kudos to Conspirare's fund-raisers and be inspired everybody else!
April 13, 2012
Compulsory a cappella in Canada?
O Canada? More like no Canada.
So many students are merely listening to the national anthem each morning in schools that one Toronto trustee is proposing they be told to sing it — a cappella — every day. “What has happened over the years is there’s a CD that all the schools have, and they just play it,” said Trustee Angela Kennedy of the Toronto Catholic District School Board.
“I think it makes people lazy and the expectation is that people not sing. And when you get to big events (like graduations), people aren’t singing either. . . . It’s unpatriotic, and I think as educators we need to be instilling some better values around patriotism and good citizenship.”
Kennedy’s motion, which comes before the board next week, notes that even though singing “O Canada” is required during the daily opening exercises, that doesn’t happen. She wants the rules changed so “students will sing ‘O Canada’ a cappella.”
While acknowledging there may be some resistance — and students may feel embarrassed — she’s open to other suggestions. Her music-less version is a low-cost option, she added. “I thought I should address (the issue), get it out there for public debate.” At least one school in her board is already in tune with the idea. Read more.
April 12, 2012
Toronto Vocal Arts Festival
A cappella festivals are happening all over and this weekend its the Toronto Vocal Arts Festival. They have major headliners The Swingle Singers, New York Voices and Canada's own The Nylons along with weekend classes and workshops. More info.
April 11, 2012
Microsoft's Tweet Choir
I missed this when it first happened but here is the "Tweet Choir", a group of a cappella singers who performed as part of the keynote speech by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer at the recent CES convention in Las Vegas.
April 9, 2012
Review - Stile Antico
The Independent (UK):
If you want proof of the extent to which ‘early music’ is now enshrined in our culture, look no further than the packed Wigmore Hall on Easter Sunday, where the a cappella group Stile Antico were singing Renaissance motets which not so long ago would have drawn a small cohort of sandalled beardies and flower-maidens.
Since the Tallis Scholars paved the way back in the Seventies, the a cappella sphere has become thronged with fine groups, from the Gabrieli Consort to the Cardinalls Musick, from The Sixteen to I Fagiolini, with the young ex-Oxbridge Stile Antico being the new kids on the block. They’ve twice been Grammy-nominated, their CDs regularly win awards, and Sting chose them as partners for his ill-advised foray into Elizabethanism.
Stile Antico’s performance style is the polar opposite of I Fagiolini’s flamboyance. Working without a conductor, they operate like chamber musicians: all you have to watch is them quietly changing places between numbers, in their black-clad semi-circle. But to spend 70 unbroken minutes in their company, revelling in the warmth and balance of their bass- and contralto-rich sound, is pure delight.
April 6, 2012
April 4, 2012
Tim Hauser Remembers Ross Barbour and Bob Flanigan
The Manhattan Transfer founder on the last of the Four Freshmen
The passing of Ross Barbour this past August was duly noted and, I must say, it carried a bit of a sting. The end of an era always carries that bite of reality that causes one to pause and reflect. Ross was the last surviving member of the Four Freshmen, and his passing fell so quickly after his partner Bob Flanigan, who passed in May. Bob was the signature voice of the Four Freshmen, and Ross was the group’s founder. My first introduction to one of my favorite vocal groups occurred in 1955, when WNEW played their single “Day by Day.” The musical bar was much higher in those days, so they were not looked upon as a jazz group, but rather a pop group. After all, “Day by Day” was a hit single.
What was it about the Four Freshmen that so captivated me back when I was 13? I didn’t know much about vocal group history, but certainly had enjoyed the big-band groups like the Pied Pipers and the Merry Macs. I also liked the Mills Brothers and the Four Aces. But the Four Freshmen were different. They were, for want of a better term, modern. I can’t find any other way to describe that sound. I purchased “Day by Day” at my local record store and played that 45 over and over. The flip side was “How Can I Tell Her.” It was as beautiful as the A-side, and that cut too got its grooves worn. That sound really got to me—the way those voices moved around inside the harmony was like nothing I had ever heard.
April 3, 2012
Wheelchair-Bound Boy Ignored by School Choir
Being different is part and parcel of being a kid with cerebral palsy. But for Alex Wilson, being different has come to mean being ignored. In a photo that has gone viral on Facebook, Wilson is the boy in a wheelchair placed a full set of bleachers away from his school's choir.
Mom Arla Jan Wilson originally posted the photo to her Facebook page with the disclaimer that she doesn't like to vent. But the sad photo, so simple and yet so startling, has become a lightning rod for parents across the nation who are more than happy to vent on Alex's behalf. What happened at the multi-school choral performance at the Georgia high school was wrong. Unfortunately, it's not uncommon. Read more.
April 2, 2012
The Muppet Glee Club
I've had a crush on Miss Piggy for many years now so I was delighted to learn of this great clip of the Muppets singing a cappella. Miss Piggy sings lead (or course).