Singing can allow people to tap into memories once thought to be lost, reconnect with loved ones and so much more. This is why we sing. The St. Olaf Band, under the direction of Timothy Mahr, performs an arrangement of a sacred work by Claudio Monteverdi that required both singing and playing. The instrumental lines in "Adoramus te, Christi" mimic and enhance the vocal lines for a modern take on this Baroque classic.
Composer Eric Barnum took the Proverb, "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life," and ran with it. Barnum's choral work 'Wellspring' is in this week's Regional Spotlight. As times change, so do the stereotypes surrounding barbershop singing. Learn more about the barbershop community in Minnesota, and hear the Minneapolis Commodores perform at venues across the Twin Cities this summer. Watch its Golden Buzzer-winning performance that brought the judges to their feet.
When it comes to being a part of a choir, the benefits can be felt live or even virtually. A study that followed Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir shows how partaking in a choir -- even over the internet -- can have positive effects on mental health and social well-being. The Phoenix Chorale announced Monday that Christopher Gabbitas is taking over as its artistic director, succeeding Charles Bruffy, who led the choir from to Along with appearing on more than 30 albums with the King's Singers, Gabbitas is a two-time Grammy winner.
Enter the giveaway to win a copy of 'A Musical Celebration of Cantus. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn.
Their repertoire is rooted in church music, in which every interval can have meaning and harmony was once a matter for papal intervention. Christian monks sang in unison for nearly a thousand years before they allowed themselves a second vocal line, and then only in lockstep with the melody. Three-part harmony had to wait another three centuries, when English and French clergymen added a third or a sixth to the chord.
As late as the seventeen-hundreds, the tritone—a dissonant interval of two notes, three whole steps apart—was reviled as diabolus in musica: the devil in music. Wells, in his way, is like a Protestant Reformer, nailing his radical theses to the conservatory door. He belonged to the church before he rebelled against it.
- Writing about business: the new Columbia Knight-Bagehot guide to economics and business journalism.
- Album Release: Pablo Ortiz Choral Works | AS/COA.
- Navigation menu.
- Consciousness: Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist.
- PDF Album for the Young. No. 4. Chorale.
Growing up in Northern California in the nineteen-seventies—he is fifty-seven—Wells played violin, trumpet, and jazz guitar, and sang everything from barbershop to the Beach Boys. She liked her congregations to do the singing, not as a performance but as an expression of divine harmony. But the services did allow for occasional solos. By the time Wells was in high school, he was working as a paid cantor at churches throughout the area, practicing or going to rehearsals four hours a day and thinking of a career as a singer.
Tall and spare, with a shaved head and a trim beard, he still has something of the seminarian about him—a studious self-containment, a cerebral serenity.
- Associated collections :.
- More by Robert Schumann;
- Album for the Young, Op.68 • No.4 Ein Choral (Chorale).
He loved the discipline of Christian Science, he told me. And Wells had known a number of Church members who died after refusing medical treatment.
Mary Baker Eddy insisted on faith healing, though she took morphine for her own illnesses. Wells has a deep, oaky baritone that roughens to a grumble in its lower register. He tried speaking at a higher pitch a few years ago, when a voice therapist told him that his tone was causing vocal fatigue. As he talked, his hands moved over a laptop keyboard, splicing and shuffling a stack of vocal tracks on a pair of computer screens.
The other tracks were an amateur choir that his wife, Betsy Burris, had put together with singers from her Congregational church in Williamstown. The piece was part of an installation that Wells was creating for a restored Shaker village in Hancock, Massachusetts. When the recording was done, it would play on an endless loop inside an old silo. The Shakers, like the Christian Scientists, were believers too ardent for ordinary churches. Celibate by principle—they peopled their ranks with orphans and adoptees—they channelled their passions into religion, handicrafts, and music.
They went on to compose more than ten thousand songs, and invented a new kind of pen nib to aid in their transcription. The later hymns, often based on Appalachian folk tunes, are fairly conventional. But the early Shakers mistrusted fancy lyrics and fussy compositions, preferring wordless tunes like this one, full of the shuddering ecstasies that gave them their name. Those were the songs that Wells loved best. But along the way he switched from singing to conducting and composing.
Violinists can find full-time work in a string section; trombonists can earn their keep with the brass. Opera and solo work are the big exceptions. Their underlying technique, known as bel canto, is extraordinarily hard to master. First developed in the seventeenth century by the Italians—their clear, open vowels suited it perfectly—bel canto does a number of felicitous things at once.
One researcher at Ohio State argued that vibrato might trigger emotions in listeners because it simulates the sound of a voice trembling with fear. Above all, bel canto is loud. It carries long distances. An opera star, no less than a sumo wrestler or an N. Wells was not. And the result strikes him as both a practical and an aesthetic problem. Choral singing tends to mean one thing: a clear, straight tone designed to blend seamlessly with others.
It can be an exacting skill, capable of great beauty and refinement. Here was music that broke all the rules of Western choral singing. The women were technically belting, like Broadway singers—pushing their chest voices up into the range of their head voices—but they took it much further. The sound was nasal, emphatic, transfixing—closer to Arab ululation than to the smooth sonority of an American choir. At first I was thinking, No, no, no.
But the end result is that the range of colors and timbres gets more and more narrow. The great project of twentieth-century music was to liberate instruments from their prescribed sounds, Wells says, citing the Dutch composer Louis Andriessen. W hen Wells founded Roomful of Teeth, in , he began with a set of strict conditions, like a biologist designing a study. The group would sing neither the standard choral repertoire nor songs from other vocal traditions.
He remembers reading a review of it in Gourmet that fall. Wells began by commissioning pieces from two composers: Judd Greenstein and Rinde Eckert.
Digital Sheet Music: Schumann - Chorale Op. 68 No. 4 in G Major
He persuaded MASS MoCA , a contemporary-art museum housed in an old mill complex five miles from Williams, to host a three-week residency, capped by a concert. Then he arranged for experts in yodelling, belting, and Tuvan throat singing to come teach their techniques. All he needed now was some singers. Are we going to learn to throat-sing that quickly? Will the music be written in time? Will it make any sense? I thought, Yeah, sure, I like those Bulgarian singers. I like to yodel. I knew a lot about Beethoven string quartets. Each singer had to perform a classical piece and a nonclassical piece.
Like Shaw, he was convinced that the group was a bad idea. Wells first had him sing through some standard choral pieces. Because it was written for a stringed instrument, the part was torture to follow. It was like translating Russian into English while singing a tune for the first time. Singers tend to be either the worst musicians in the room or the best. Some are content to sing the same five or six operas over and over, never bothering to learn another. But those who specialize in new music, or in thorny twentieth-century pieces, have to be as adept as they are adventurous. Voices have no frets or keys to place the pitches; no brass or wood—impervious to running noses—to make the sound.
Wells invited pop and musical-theatre performers to audition, as well as classically trained singers, but only the latter had the right technical chops. It was like an advanced-musicianship test from grad school. The eight singers who made the cut were all in their twenties. Four were trained instrumentalists: Shaw was a violinist, the soprano Martha Cluver was a violist, the bass Cameron Beauchamp played trombone, and the tenor Eric Dudley studied piano.
As for Griffin, he had trained as both a singer and a composer, but he thinks it was something else that got him in. Because that openness and bravery may be the primary thing about this group. Tall and piratical, with a man bun and a pointy beard, Stafylakis studied piano as a boy in Montreal then dumped it for heavy-metal guitar.
Some—like Eve Beglarian and Julia Wolfe—were accomplished professionals. Others were promising newcomers, plucked from more than four hundred applications to the American Composers Forum. Wells had spent the previous day introducing them to the vocal techniques that his group had learned in its decade together. Death-metal singing, or supraglottal laryngeal constriction, was the latest addition to the list.
Composing for Roomful of Teeth, Wells says, is like writing for a pipe organ with multiple stops: an instrument that approximates the sound of many others. How constricted is the larynx, and how does air pass through it? Which frequencies are amplified or attenuated? All those things are just basic physiology, and they manifest in different ways around the world. There are Swiss yodellers, cowboy yodellers, and polyphonic Pygmy yodellers in the forests of the Congo. To some composers, this is wonderfully liberating. Well, these guys can do it. Later that week, Stafylakis and the others would sit down with the singers one by one and take notes on their individual ranges, skills, and timbres.
Album für die Jugend, Op.68 (Schumann, Robert)
Most choirs ignore such differences or try to smooth them over—to sound like a single voice. Just a few scattered passages. Not yet. Kargyraa is the most famous of the throat-singing techniques from Tuva, in southern Siberia. Like death metal, it involves activating parts of the larynx that usually lie quiet—in this case, the ventricular folds that flank the vocal cords.
By tightening the throat and pushing air through it, Kargyraa forces these folds to vibrate at half the speed of the vocal cords, producing two notes at once: the fundamental pitch and a groaning sub-harmonic below it. The Tuvans, like the Sardinians, like to imitate their livestock; Wells once saw a film of a camel herder comforting a rejected calf with Kargyraa.
The singers cupped their tongues, circled their lips, and narrowed their throats, creating high, whistling overtones. It was mesmerizing, but they could only sustain it for a few moments. But there are exceptions. The more ravaged the voice, the more beautiful it is said to sound. But every style, no matter how harmless, uses different muscle groups and breathing techniques, different tongue, throat, and mouth positions. Switching between them can be exhausting, and even dangerous if the singer lapses into poor technique. Brittelle needed sixty-four drafts to get it right.
The balance between innovation and polish, individuality and blend, can be hard to find. Learning new techniques is unnerving for professional singers. And Roomful of Teeth sometimes feels like one too many sharp musical minds in the same room. Others would like even tighter collaboration. It got to the point where they were saying, Caroline, maybe you should just take a break and check your phone sometimes. The school had just hired her to coach students and present compositions.
Thin-boned and petite, with sharp eyes behind oversized glasses, she had the high-strung yet unruffled quality of a bird on a wire. Yet she feels like a bit of an interloper at Juilliard, the land of bel canto. Shaw grew up in Greenville, North Carolina, both at the outskirts of classical music and at the heart of it.
Her mother was a trained singer and Suzuki-violin instructor. Shaw started playing at age two, on a Fruit Roll-Ups box with a paint stick for a neck. Her church-choir conductor later became the director of the organ department at Indiana University. When Shaw first moved to New York, in , after graduating from Yale, she went from dance company to dance company, offering to play for their rehearsals.