Roomful of Teeth to Visit Williston

The Grammy award-winning ensemble will teach techniques and perform from their diverse repertoire
Photo by Bonica Ayala of Bonica Ayala Photography, courtesy of Roomful of Teeth
Photo by Bonica Ayala of Bonica Ayala Photography, courtesy of Roomful of Teeth

Members of a Grammy award-winning ensemble will bring their unique sound to the Williston Northampton campus on October 20 as part of an hour-long workshop with the school’s choral ensembles.

Roomful of Teeth will teach the Caterwaulers and Widdigers new techniques, talk about their process, and perform a private concert for the students.

“I’m hoping the students’ idea of a choir or vocal ensemble can be expanded in a way they’ve never thought about,” Director of Choirs Joshua Harper wrote in an email about the visit. “This ensemble defies every genre line for singing, and what they do is very groundbreaking and very fresh.”

Roomful of Teeth is an eight-voice ensemble that was founded in 2009 and incorporates singing traditions and techniques from around the world. In their biography, they note that their repertoire includes such styles as Tuvan throat singing, yodeling, Sardinian cantu a tenore, Hindustani, Persian classical, Inuit throat singing, and Korean P’ansori.

The group’s self-titled debut album was released in October 2012 and won a Grammy Award in 2014 for Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance. The album includes four movements of “Music for Partita for 8 Voices,” which was written by ensemble member Caroline Shaw and for which she received a 2013 Pulitzer Prize.

Roomful of Teeth is currently working on “The Colorado,” a documentary film that explores water, land, and survival in the Colorado River Basin. This year, they will have appearances at new music festivals in the U.S., Mexico, and Vancouver, including a concert at Mount Holyoke College’s McCulloch Auditorium on October 19 at 8 p.m. Their newest album, “Render,” was released April 2015 on New Amsterdam Records.

During their visit to the Williston campus, Roomful of Teeth will perform a few pieces from their repertoire for the students and will teach the choral ensembles some of the extended vocal techniques they have studied during annual residences at Mass Museum of Contemporary Art. At the end of the hour, they’ll hold a question and answer session about being professional singers and composers.

“Their outlook on how to use the human voice as an instrument is unbelievable, and the rewards and press they have received echo this,” noted Mr. Harper. “They also recently backed up Kanye West at in Los Angeles at the Hollywood Bowl for a two night performance—they’re huge right now.”

Williston Northampton Choral Ensembles Upcoming Concert Dates:

Songs of My Soul
November 13, 7:30pm
Phillips Stevens Chapel

Songs of Then and Now: A Choral Coffeehouse
February 26, 7:30pm
Phillips Stevens Chapel

Songs of Love and Betrayal
May 24, 7:30pm
Phillips Stevens Chapel

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