Update: Roomful of Teeth (2 Pieces of new music for voices)


[Posted by BR; once again, apologies for the somewhat tangential nature of this topic]

In late June, I posted about the inaugural concert of Roomful of Teeth, a new vocal ensemble founded by my friend, Brad Wells, who teaches in the Music Department at Williams College. My 7-year old son and I went to hear them, and the concert was absolutely wonderful. Brad and his ensemble are engaged in a fascinating collective experiment, investigating what new forms of musical expression might be made possible by integrating (in individual singers, and in the ensemble as a whole) vocal styles that have originated in different regions of the world: such as Tuvan throat singing (in which a single singer produces multiple pitches simultaneously) and yodeling (indeed, one of the highlights of the evening was a performance by master yodeler Kerry Christensen, who was brought in to train the ensemble members). The ensemble has only been together a very short while (and they are only beginning to write and commission pieces for themselves) so clearly this inaugural show gave only a hint of what they might eventually (be able to) do, but what I heard convinced me that this is an artistic project worth following. And despite being a bit tired because of the fairly late hour of the show, my son still thought it was “pretty cool,” which — coming from him — is high praise indeed! Brad has just posted videos of two of the pieces online, and I wanted to share them with you here. (Brad is the one conducting.)

Roomful of Teeth performs Judd Greenstein’s “AEIOU” at Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. Greenstein wrote the work for the ensemble during this year’s residency; this is the premiere performance.

Ensemble member Caroline Shaw wrote Passacaglia for the group. The text is by Sol Le Witt, courtesy of Mass MoCA.

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