June 28, 2013
Barbershop International in Toronto
Unfortunately I can't make it this year. Have fun fellas and happy 75th!
June 27, 2013
Circa’s How Like An Angel has gasp-inducing highlights
Aussie company Circa’s site-responsive work was staged in four British cathedrals for the London 2012 Festival. For this short run, part of the City of London Festival, it pitches up in the captivating St Bartholomew The Great.
It’s a perfect setting to pay reverence to the wonder of physical movement. The six performers show strength, balance and contortion skills on elevated platforms, aerial silk and pole.
A drop from the church’s top tier by one performer is a gasp-inducing highlight, while Rowan Heydon-White’s shows of strength are awe-inspiring.
All the acrobatics are fluid and passionately executed but fairly standard. The a cappella choral work that accompanies it, however, from collaborating vocal ensemble I Fagiolini, adds a thrilling dimension.
Singers pass through the promenade space filling the gathering twilight with choral pieces ranging from Thomas Tallis to Xhosa spirituals.
They add an ecstatic swell and sense of human vulnerability to the superhuman feats around and above us.
June 26, 2013
A Search for Harmony
New York Times:
Can choral singing really help people age well? Maintain their health and their crucial social connections? Perhaps find their way through grief and loss?
That’s a tall order, but the new film “Unfinished Song” quietly makes those claims. Opening in New York and Los Angeles on Friday, and then around the country, it struck me as predictably plotted but with several elements to recommend it:
a) Terence Stamp
b) Vanessa Redgrave
c) Ms. Redgrave, now 75, movingly singing Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors”
d) An energetic choir of other older singers, mostly recruited from actual community choruses in England.
You may recall “Young@Heart,” the 2008 documentary about a Northampton, Mass., senior chorus of the same name. Going strong since 1982, the group rehearses twice a week, has released three CDs and has given concerts around the world, most recently in Belgium and Holland.
You might expect performers over age 73 — the minimum age — to stick with memory-fanning songs of their youth. But Young@Heart is currently working on tunes by Yo La Tengo and the Flaming Lips.
“It exercises the brain. You have to learn stuff,” the choir director Bob Cilman said. “People work hard to stay in and continue. It’s probably good for their health.”
There’s some evidence that he’s right. Choral singing has been shown to strengthen neural connections, fortify the immune system and reduce stress and depression. “It seems to tinker with the chemicals in the brain in just the right way to make people feel better,” said Stacy Horn, author of the new book “Imperfect Harmony: Finding Happiness Singing With Others.”
As for the impact on older choristers, a 2006 study comparing singers in Washington, D.C., choruses for those over age 65 with nonsinging groups found that the singers reported better health, fewer falls, more activity and less loneliness.
Julene Johnson, a neuroscientist at the University of California, San Francisco, has done similar research in Finland, where choruses for all ages, genders and interests are ubiquitous. When she asked senior singers about their experiences, “they said they got emotional benefits, relaxation and social support” from participating, Dr. Johnson said. “It seemed to have a relationship with how highly they rated their quality of life.”
June 15, 2013
Voca People latest video
I like the Voca People but perhaps riding in elevators is not something they do on their planet..
June 12, 2013
The Ragtime Gals: I Wanna Sex You Up
Jimmy Fallon and his barbershop quartet "The Ragtime Gals" performed again this week this time singing the Color Me Badd classic "I Wanna Sex You Up." They actually sound pretty good.
June 7, 2013
Why Music Makes Our Brain Sing
New York Times:
Music is not tangible. You can’t eat it, drink it or mate with it. It doesn’t protect against the rain, wind or cold. It doesn’t vanquish predators or mend broken bones. And yet humans have always prized music — or well beyond prized, loved it.
In the modern age we spend great sums of money to attend concerts, download music files, play instruments and listen to our favorite artists whether we’re in a subway or salon. But even in Paleolithic times, people invested significant time and effort to create music, as the discovery of flutes carved from animal bones would suggest.
So why does this thingless “thing” — at its core, a mere sequence of sounds — hold such potentially enormous intrinsic value?
The quick and easy explanation is that music brings a unique pleasure to humans. Of course, that still leaves the question of why. But for that, neuroscience is starting to provide some answers. Read more.
June 6, 2013
New Rockapella video
Rockapella has released a new video of "Pretty Much You", a track from their new CD release "Motown and More." Twenty years on and we still love these guys!
June 5, 2013
'Imperfect Harmony': How Singing With Others Changes Your Life
When writer Stacy Horn was 26 years old, she was divorced and miserable. So she decided to audition for the Choral Society of Grace Church in New York. Horn made the cut and joined the community choir as a soprano.
She chronicles her 30 years with the group in a new memoir, Imperfect Harmony: Finding Happiness in Singing With Others. She talks with NPR's Ari Shapiro about how singing made her life more bearable.
Daniel Levitin, psychology professor at McGill University, and author of , joins the conversation to explain the science of group singing.
June 3, 2013
The Best/Most Ridiculous College A Cappella Names
The popular web site Jezebel has some fun with a cappella group names. Personally I enjoy a really bad fun which is probably just as well after presenting hundreds of a cappella groups over the years and now the collegiate groups have caught up with barbershop quartets in this department..