July 30, 2012
Do people of different races have different voices?
Is there such thing as a Caucasian, Asian, or African voice? And could you actually identify someone's race just by listening to him or her? Admittedly, the whole notion of race is nebulous to say the least — it's a concept that blends physiological and social differences indiscriminately. But there are still scientists trying to study the actual physiological differences between different racial groups. And one of those differences is how we sound to each other.
The moment you try to study the actual physical differences between races, you run into trouble. The data gets tangled pretty quickly because genetic makeup doesn't always match up with how you look. Sometimes the data are statistically tangled, since any physiological characteristic of a race, from height to skin color, will overlap with characteristics of other races. And when you start to look into the question of vocal differences, you run into sociological tangles as well. Humans are talented, and often unintentional, vocal mimics. We've always been unconscious mimics, which is how language spread around in the first place. So it's pretty much impossible to find such a thing as a completely uninfluenced voice.
July 27, 2012
On set with the cast of Pitch Perfect
Here's a puff piece on GLAM website on the upcoming a cappella movie Pitch Perfect. Sorry to say but I'm not feeling good about this at all. Cut it out with the nerdy stereotypes will ya!
July 26, 2012
Rosanne conducts a cappella choir
A former Bob, a Vantastic, a former Chanticleer, an m-pacter and 16 other singers from the Los Angele Master Chorale "sing" the Star Spangled Banner as conducted by Rosanne Barr. Ouch!
July 24, 2012
Gareth Malone to make US version of The Choir
British choirmaster and broadcaster Gareth Malone, self-described as an "animateur, presenter and populariser of choral singing" will be bringing his successful BBC TV series The Choir to the US. The series focuses on teaching choral singing to people who have no experience of singing and has been a huge hit in England. Gareth also founded the Military Wives Choir which has had several number one hits in the UK. The US series will be on the USA network and will begin in February 2013.
July 23, 2012
Barbershop Harmony Society announces new CEO
Twenty-three-year member Martin “Marty” Monson was named to the post after an extensive search process conducted by the Barbershop Harmony Society’s Board of Directors and the search firm Genovese, Vanderhoof & Associates. Nearly 60 candidates, many with extensive musical and association management experience, were considered for the position.
Marty is currently president and owner of Visual Communication Advisors, a strategic planning consulting firm. Prior to that, he was vice president of business development for Glowpoint, a telecommunications and teleconferencing company.
“I am honored by the opportunity to serve the Barbershop Harmony Society in this capacity,” Marty said. “I’m eager to get started.” Marty has been president of the Hilltop, Minn. Chapter (LOL) of the Barbershop Harmony Society for the past five years. His leadership has helped to significantly grow membership and transform the Hilltop chapter (and its Great Northern Union chorus) into one of the Society’s most dynamic organizations.
July 17, 2012
Prison choir takes choral gold
An a cappella prison choir from Ohio took gold in the World Choir Games' gospel and spiritual categories.
July 16, 2012
Cincinnati helps stranded Indonesian college choir
An Indonesian choir stuck in Cincinnati after a traveling mishap forced them to miss the World Choir Games was embraced by city residents determined to open their hearts and wallets to get the singers to perform and then to return them home.
The effort to help the 49-member Gema Chandra Cendrawasih University Choir from Papua, Indonesia, included impromptu performances, thousands of dollars in donations, and, finally, a 2,400-mile bus ride, all so the choir can catch a flight home.
The group had purchased round-trip tickets between Jakarta and San Francisco, where it planned to buy round-trip tickets to Cincinnati but had only enough money for one-way tickets. The choir missed its scheduled performances at the World Choir Games because of travel delays in Jakarta. It arrived in Cincinnati shortly before the closing ceremonies Saturday with little money, nowhere to perform and no way back to San Francisco.
Knowing how far the choir had traveled to sing, organizers arranged for it to do just that on Sunday, at a church and in the lobby of a downtown convention center. Social media helped spread the word, and a few listeners grew to an audience of several hundred people. The generosity extended to people's wallets. The donations brought the singers to tears. Read more.
July 14, 2012
'Fifty Shades Of Grey' helps sell a cappella
File this under Strange Bedfellows. The crazy-huge success of E L James' Fifty Shades erotic trilogy — which as of late May stood at more than 10 million sales in all formats and 60 physical printings, according to publisher Vintage Books — has made quite the impact in ... classical music, of all things.
Consider this: Thomas Tallis' wondrous 40-part motet Spem in alium, written around 1570 and recorded by The Tallis Scholars more than 25 years ago, has bounded up the classical charts, thanks to its mention in the first installment of Fifty Shades.
This unexpected rebounding has been enough of a high/low cultural collision that Peter Philips, the very proper and rather starchy founder and director of The Tallis Scholars, has actually issued a statement about it. "I haven't read Fifty Shades of Grey," Philips said, "but I am most grateful to the author for introducing so many new listeners to the musical sensation that is Thomas Tallis's Spem in alium. Written during the reign of the first Queen Elizabeth it features 40 individual voices singing in Latin that combine to a thrilling climax for the words 'respice humilitatem nostram' (be mindful of our humiliation)." Read more.
July 12, 2012
New singing contest - Quartets
Here's 2006 Harmony Sweeps national champs Hi-Fidelity on last night's Tonight Show with Jay Leno as they perform in the new reality show Quartets.
July 11, 2012
Von Trapp children tour China
Well look who has grown up since last I saw their publicity photos. The Von Trapp Children, the great-grandchildren of Captain von Trapp, continue the tradition of family harmony singing (usually a cappella), and are keeping very busy. They are about to embark on a summer tour of China and will be performing at Carnegie Hall in the fall as a guest of the New York Pops.
July 10, 2012
What a show!!
Wow - two Harmony Sweepstakes National Champs sharing the stage. The Idea of North and Moira Smiley and VOCO are performing together at the Festival of Voices on Thursday evening. The event is in Hobart, Tasmania and features a week of top notch vocal performances and workshops.
July 8, 2012
Ringmasters win barbershop gold
Congratulations to Ringmasters who won gold last night in Portland, Oregon and are the new International Champions of the Barbershop Harmony Society. Musical Island Boys won silver and A Mighty Wind won bronze. With Ringmasters hailing from Sweden and Musical Island Boys from New Zealand the Society is really living up to the international moniker of the event. The Ambassadors of Harmony won the chorus competition with Great Northern Union second and Kentucky Vocal Union third.
July 6, 2012
Pentatonix releases EP
Here's the latest video from Pentatonix of a cover of Nicki Minaj's "Starships" which is on their new digital only EP release "PTX Volume 1." The title sold over 18,000 units in the first few days and debuted on the iTunes top 10. Unlike previous Sing-Off winners they don't seem to have a deal with Sony which I thought was the prize for winning.
Conspiracy of Beards
Heard this piece on NPR today on The Conspiracy of Beards, an a cappella ensemble that sings Leonard Cohen covers exclusively.
July 5, 2012
Our Oregon vacation
The family and I are back home after a terrific vacation and we are tanned, relaxed and recharged. We were in Oregon, a wonderful state with a wide variety of natural features and environments. Starting from San Francisco we drove up to Reno, Nevada and then headed north on Hwy 395 and into the high desert. I highly recommend this route as you travel thru some truly remote and stunningly beautiful scenery. For an Englishman the concept of “no gas station for the next 100 miles” has always been fascinating and we figured that in the 300 miles driven one day we passed thru less human habitation than in our neighborhood. Most of the towns had fewer inhabitants than our cul-de-sac. (25 people).
We then arrived at Bend which has been transformed in recent years from a mill town to a hip resort area perfect for outdoor enthusiasts with top notch skiing (Mt Bachelor (a dormant volcano) was open for skiing this July 4th weekend) and plenty of hiking, whitewater sports, golfing, rock climbing and cycling etc. It is also surrounded by interesting geological formations such as lava caves, petrified forests, volcanic lakes and obsidian flows which we explored over the several days we were there.
One of the coolest thing on our trip was when we were driving thru the remote Warm Springs Indian reservation we decided to try and find ice cream for the kids. So we wandered down a side street when we stumbled upon the annual pow wow, an event with about 3,000 folks with us being almost the only non-native Americans present. There were hundreds in full costume and the dancing was continuous and amazing to watch. We stayed for several hours and the kids were entranced. The old West is still very much alive as when in Reno the Rodeo (the third largest in the country) was in full swing and the Silver Legacy where we stayed was the event hotel so there were (real) cowboys (and girls) everywhere. Then a few days later we were surrounded by real live Indians.
I really did feel like I was in a movie from my childhood (the Ponderosa Ranch is also near Reno) and the natural beauty of the west is still a great inspiration for me.
The photo above is of my kids at Smith Rock where we did a day hike along the river. This spot is popular with rock climbers and we saw many dangling from the steep walls.