Thursday, July 12, 2007

long overdue post on the nordic voices

One of the most beautiful evenings I spent listening to voices live happened when I was in Taipei one summer. It was the summer after graduating from college, and even though I was traveling on the other side of the globe, I still toted a couple things that comfortably reminded me of school and my existence there.

At any rate, there were a couple performances that friends had bought tickets for during my trip. They were part of a choral festival in which various vocal ensembles from around the world performed. The first night featured a choir from Korea and a six-voice Swedish ensemble called Nordic Voices.

Nordic Voices

The programming of NV was really quite superb. It was mostly twentieth century works, concentrating on the latter half, with particular relish in programming aleatoric and humorous works. What also struck me was how beautifully trained their voices were. The first soprano, in particular, had an incredible, enveloping timbre, projection, and control. Memory being a fickle, nonetheless I have a visceral recollection of what it was like to hear that voice swell and it was unlike any evening that I spent in the company of name singers at the Met, for example. (Duly noted that the size of venue could not be more different, as well as the lack of accompaniment.)

The excellence of the concert notwithstanding, the most beautiful moment of the evening occurred at the final encore when the singers, holding bouquets, turned away from each other to face the audience in a line where the footlights would be if the stage had them, and sang a "norwegian lullaby" in the warmest tones of sleep imaginable. At the second verse, the dynamic warmed still further, ever softer, until it seemed even the lights hushed to hear the melody. It was an amazing evening.

I can't believe I was such a doofus (or in such a funk, take your pic) that I missed their concert at the National Gallery of Art last winter. Boo on me!

This, looking back, may have been one of the more important signs to me that maybe opera might not be the best fit for me (who knows until I'm in a production!). That isn't to say that it won't fit -- in fact, I think it will be a wonderful fit, at least temperamentally. But it's no longer the only option in my mind, and I think that's only a good thing.

School starts in a month and a half! I've already found a place to live and I sign the lease next week. Immense!

(I notice that there are some video clips of NV available. I'll try and do some html-fu when I get home so I can post them here!)

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