News and Notices
Don Collins, professor emeritus of choral music education at the University of Central Arkansas, is basking now in the glow of an award he recently received – induction into the Hall of Fame of the Arkansas Music Educators Association, presented in recognition of his outstanding support and contributions to music education.
People who recognize his abundant skills were not surprised by the award, for during a span of 40 years the primary emphasis of his professional career, since he completed his graduate work at Florida State University in 1970, has been to support and promulgate educational principles that would keep young men singing as their voices changed during through puberty.
But the Harmonics, part of Stanford for almost two decades, are about as musically big as a small set of student voices could be. The group’s penchant for creative risk has been galvanized by departing music director Charlie Forkish, ’11, who over the last three years has driven the Harmonics into such technologically edgy territory that they’ve gotten national attention.
One part of Forkish’s arsenal is Auto-Tune, software with the ability to correct vocal flaws by processing the audio to make singers sound pitch-perfect. Producers also can create an assortment of effects. Last year, the Wall Street Journal devoted a story to how controversial the use of mechanized tricks had become. The article spotlighted the Harmonics’ use of Auto-Tune in live performances as a catalyst for debate about what should be considered authentic a cappella.
Dainava, a Chicago-based Lithuanian chorale, has prepared a special musical program featuring an authentic Lithuanian instrument, a reed pipe called a “birbyne,” in a unique program combining folk instrument and choral music traditions.
The performance will be held on Saturday, Jan. 23, at 7 p.m. at the Lemont High School Performing Arts Center, 800 Porter St., Lemont, IL.
Geraint Llyr Owen, 13, a member of Llandaff Cathedral Choir, Cardiff, performed a solo in Pie Jesu at the Celebrating Karl Jenkins concert at the Wales Millennium Centre in November.
The concert was broadcast on the Welsh language channel S4C and the clip was posted on the internet.
Distinguished Concerts International New York saw it and invited Geraint to perform the same piece in a Martin Luther King Jr Day concert in the Avery Fisher Hall in the Lincoln Centre on Broadway on Jan 18.
There are now more choirs in the UK than fish and chip shops, and a spate of television programmes about choral singing – including Last Choir Standing and the two award-winning series by choirmaster Gareth Malone – suggest that, as Wyatt puts it, "singing together is so much more than making a noise with voices." In the future, he says, "someone will figure out how it works its magic in the brain."
Choral singing can measurably improve physical health. In a paper in the new issue of the Journal of Applied Arts & Health, specialists identify half-a-dozen ways in which it can improve our mental health, from improving cognitive function to social confidence.
Performance Today on Jan 8, in its weekly feature of 21st century composers, included excerpts from the “Kontakion on the Nativity of Christ,” an Orthodox Christmas choral concerto, along with comments from its composer Richard Toensing. The “Kontakion” was performed by Cappella Romana, with conductor Alexander Lingas, St. Agatha’s Catholic Church, Portland, Oregon.
The program is archived and can be heard online. To listen, go to http://performancetoday.publicradio.org/, click on Program Archive, Jan 8, Hour 2.
Performance Today is carried by roughly 250 stations in the U.S. and territories, and has a weekly listenership of around 1.3 million.