January 31, 2014
Reason to Smile: Roomful of Teeth Wins Grammy
Roomful of Teeth has been wowing North County audiences for years with its popular annual residencies at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. Now, the whole world knows what the buzz is about.
On Sunday in Los Angeles, Roomful of Teeth, which was founded in 2009 by Williams College artist-in-residence Brad Wells, won a Grammy.
The a capella group blends non-classical vocal traditions from around the world. The New York Times described its eponymous debut album in 2012 as "sensually stunning."
The octet, which brings together artists scattered around the country, was nominated for three Grammys. It won for Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance.
Congratulations to the ensemble. The linked article includes an interview with founder Brad Wells.
January 27, 2014
Pentatonix sells out
Did this really have to be? Pentatonix does a commercial for a sugary cereal that I wouldn't feed my kids in a million years. #shameful
Lucky Charms ingredients - (Oats, (Whole Grain Oats, Flour), Marshmallows (Sugar, Modified Corn Starch, Corn Syrup, Dextrose, Gelatin, Calcium Carbonate, Yellow 5 & 6, Blue 1, Red 40), Artificial Flavor, Sugar, Corn Syrup, Corn Starch, Salt, Calcium Carbonate, Artificial Color, Trisodium Phosphate, Zinc And Iron (Mineral Nutrients), Vitamin C (Sodium Ascorbic), A "B" Vitamin (Niacinamide), Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B1, Thiamin Mononitrate), Vitamin A, (Palmitate), A B Vitamin (Folic Acid) Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Vitamin E (Mixed Tocopherols) Added To Preserve Freshness.)
Elizabeth Banks to Direct 'Pitch Perfect 2'
Elizabeth Banks will make her feature directorial debut with Pitch Perfect 2, the sequel to Universal and Gold Circle’s hit 2012 musical comedy.
Banks, who also co-starred in and produced the original, is returning in the same capacity to the sequel. Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson, who also starred in the original, are likely to return, according to insiders.
"Elizabeth originated the idea for Pitch Perfect and was instrumental in making the first film such a huge success,” said Universal Pictures chairman Donna Langley. “She brings an enormous amount of energy and experience to everything she works on and we’re thrilled that she is making her feature directorial debut on Pitch Perfect 2.”
January 25, 2014
A cappella Grammy nominations
The Grammys are this Sunday and as usual a cappella music is well represented. The experimental and immensely interesting vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth leads the way with three nominations:- Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance, Best Classical Engineered Album, and Best Contemporary Classical Composition for group member Caroline Shaw's "Partita For 8 Voices." New York Polyphony is nominated for "Times Go By Turns" in Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance. The Sixteen is nominated in Best Choral Performance for "Palestrina: Volume 3" and Ladysmith Black Mambazo is nominated in Best World Album for "Live: Singing For Peace Around The World".
January 23, 2014
Joseph Shabalala has retired
The founder of South African group Ladysmith Black Mambazo is to take a back seat at the age of 73, their manager has announced. Joseph Shabalala, who performed at a memorial concert for Nelson Mandela last month, will "enjoy the fruits of his hard work".
He will not take part in the choral groups's forthcoming three-month tour.
The group shot to fame when they recorded the Graceland album with Paul Simon in 1986. They have won three Grammys and are nominated for a fourth at Sunday's ceremony in the US, for their album Singing For Peace Around the World. Shabalala will stay at home in South Africa.
Ladysmith's manager Xolani Majozi said: "Because of his age we want him to relax a bit, not to be involved in intensive tours. "He can still perform, but we don't want to overwork him. We think he has done his part," he added.
A number of Shabalala's sons continue to perform in the 12-strong group, along with one of his grandsons.
His birth name is Bhekizizwe Joseph Siphatimandla Mxoveni Mshengu Bigboy Shabalala.
January 16, 2014
Home Free's Chris Rupp interview
Chris Rupp, Home Free founder and baritone is eyeball-deep in living his crazy life. His a cappella country music five-some Home Free sang on the Today Show this morning while their debut Columbia recording album 'Crazy Life' was being released on ITunes today. Due to pre-sales, from the moment it was released, the album has been roosting in the top spot on the ITunes Country Album Chart. On the eve of the release, Rupp shared in a phone interview from New York last night some of the incomprehensibly grand insanity that has become his life.
"I guess I'm kinda the glue, the guy that keeps us all together," said Rupp with a mixture of pride and Midwest-'tweren't -nothin'-understatement. "It was me who started the group in college [13 years ago]. Back in high school, I'd been just blown away when I heard acapella music, by the power of what just the human voice could do. By college, I thought, 'This is what I want to do."
January 8, 2014
Pasadena's Singing Scientists
Los Angeles Magazine:
If one of your New Year's resolutions was to finally see a gang of rocket scientists drop their lab coats and perform an angelic rendition of "O Holy Night," you're in luck. On January 7, the Pasadena Symphony Association kicks off 2014 with Epiphany, a Choral Celebration of Winter, featuring Pasadena City College's Donald Brinegar Singers in concert with Pasadena's Jet Propulsion Laboratory Chorus. The JPL Chorus of singing scientists was formed in early 2012, in partnership with the Pasadena Symphony Association, and is comprised of nearly fifty JPL employees—scientists, engineers, administrators, and software developers—who happen to be talented at singing in addition to crunching numbers and solving equations. Read more.
January 7, 2014
London A Cappella Festival
It gets bigger every year and this time the London A Cappella Festival presents The Real Group, The Swingle Singers, House Jacks, Songmen, Time Ensemble and The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir. There are also workshops and classes and once again the event should be big fun.
January 5, 2014
Want Perfect Pitch? You Might Be Able To Pop A Pill For That
In the world of music, there is no more remarkable gift than having perfect pitch. As the story goes, Ella Fitzgerald's band would use her perfect pitch to tune their instruments.
Although it has a genetic component, most believe that perfect pitch — or absolute pitch — is a primarily a function of early life exposure and training in music, says Takao Hensch, professor of molecular and cellular biology at Harvard.
Hensch is studying a drug which might allow adults to learn perfect pitch by re-creating this critical period in brain development. Hensch says the drug, valprioc acid, allows the brain to absorb new information as easily as it did before age 7.
"It's a mood-stabilizing drug, but we found that it also restores the plasticity of the brain to a juvenile state," Hensch tells NPR's Linda Wertheimer.
Hensch gave the drug to a group of healthy, young men who had no musical training as children. They were asked to perform tasks online to train their ears, and at the end of a two-week period, tested on their ability to discriminate tone, to see if the training had more effect than it normally would at their age.
In other words, he gave people a pill and then taught them to have perfect pitch. The findings are significant: "It's quite remarkable since there are no known reports of adults acquiring absolute pitch," he says.