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Straight Tone Choral Tradition (Specific Ensembles?)

Hi everyone,
I've read through about a thousand threads here debating straight tone vs. vibrato. Many people all over the internet and in casual conversation cite the "European tradition" when explaining that certain groups sing with a straight tone. It's how they're taught, I'm told. But my searches yeild nothing specific.
In short, can anyone tell me exact names of choral ensembles (anywhere in the world, not just Europe) or entire countries or regions that are taught specifically in the straight tone style? I'm not looking for "The Baltic countries are taught this way" (too vague), but which choir specifically? A school name? Where does everyone get the idea that choirs sing straight tone in Europe? Not saying they don't, just saying I haven't been able to find anything.
I should note too, that I'm really looking for something that might show this is a cultural thing. The Eric Whitacre Singers often sing straight tone, and they're based out of London, but that's one ensemble under one (American) conductor. I'm not sure that really shows that straight tone singing is a cultural thing in that area. There are also a few choirs in the states (St. Olaf, and even professional groups like Chanticleer) that often sing straight tone as well, but these do not show that it is a cultural thing to do so. I'm specifically looking to show some "proof" (if there is any) that other contries and regions sing predominantly in the straight tone fashion, thus needing some specific sources (name of ensemble, schools, etc.).
Thanks in advance for your help.
Replies (13): Threaded | Chronological
on February 8, 2013 1:01pm
Thank you, everyone.
John, to answer your question, yes, I am completing my master of Choral Conducting degree at CU Boulder and I've been asked by my professor, in preparation for my oral exams, to come up with "proof" (essentially) that the European tradition is to train choirs sans vibrato. As I mentioned in my initial post, a simple google search reveals that this is a commonly held beleif and yet I can find no real proof that this is true (perhaps that was my professor's intention).

All of your comments are helpful. It seems that the only "cultural" proof that vibrato was ever not universal was during the pre-classical era. Obviously during my oral exams I can't simply say, "Arabic and South Asian ensembles sing without vibrato." It's not enough. I need specifics. Perhaps a scholorly book that would mention this.
Anyway, I know this is a tough one and it's been an englightening search.
Thank you all for your help.
on February 8, 2013 2:22pm
Jay:  Thanks for the clarification.  Just to confuse things further, I've actually never heard it said or read anywhere that "the European tradition is to train choirs sans vibrato"!  Not even boychoirs are uniformly trained, with the Vienna boys using a lot more vibrato than Kings College, for example.  So I'm curious where your professor came up with that statement.
In case it helps you going into your orals, my late wife took a geology course in college in which both the grad assistants were preparing for their doctoral orals.  And one of the questions on a geology exam was asking for the definition of "Isograd."
Well, she simply couln't remember, so she wrote, "An Isograd is someone who maintains standard temperature and pressure during his doctoral orals."  And when she got the exam back, the professor had written, "This is completely ridiculous, but I'm giving you half credit because it's so clever!!"
So be sure to remain at standard temperature and pressure!
All the best,
Applauded by an audience of 1
on February 13, 2013 3:55am
In Australia, most choirs which sing exacting coontemporary compositions and / or early music favour a straight tone. I favour it too. Last year I took my choir Wayfarers Australia on a 5 month tour of Asia and Europe. While we were in Russia, we attended a choral festival / competition. It soon became clear that eastern Europe favours a much fuller sound, with some vibrato, for all styles of music - even Eastern European children's choirs sounded like fully-blown adults. It looks as though how people sing is cultural, based on centuries of tradition, dependent on where you live on the planet. 
on February 13, 2013 5:02am
I am reading a lot of conversations about this topic. Some people have referred to Barbershop Singing as Straight toned singing. Like many other people on this thread, I don't believe that anybody teaches straight toned singing rather they teach how to lessen the vibrato on certain songs. Even going back to Ancient Times the recordings that I heard were not completely straight toned but had much less vibrato than some of the songs that we hear today.
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