Roomful of Teeth to share musical virtuosity with students, community

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The human voice in all its glory and capacity will be celebrated during the upcoming visit to Bowling Green State University by Roomful of Teeth. The eight members of the a cappella vocal project are this year’s Hansen Series artists in residence.

They will share their fine vocal craftsmanship, exuberant embrace of international vocal techniques and wide-ranging repertoire with community members and students at BGSU’s College of Musical Arts and Bowling Green High School, and cap off their visit with a free concert at 8 p.m. on Feb. 23 in Kobacker Hall at Moore Musical Arts Center.

In addition to the concert, the public is invited to attend their master class in voice, from 4:30-6 p.m. Feb. 22 in the Conrad Choral Room at the Wolfe Center for the Arts, and in composition, from 7:30-9 p.m. that evening on the Kobacker Stage. The ensemble will also participate in an open panel discussion from 10:30-11:30 a.m. Feb. 23 in Kobacker. 

Founded in 2009 by Brad Wells, the group won a Grammy for its debut album, “Roomful of Teeth.” The album featured “Partita for 8 Voices” by member Caroline Shaw, for which she won a Pulitzer Prize, becoming one of the first and youngest women to win a Pulitzer in music.

The singers gather annually at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams, Mass., where they’ve studied Tuvan throat singing, yodeling, belting, Inuit throat singing, Korean P’ansori, Georgian singing, Sardinian cantu a tenore, Hindustani music and Persian classical singing with some of the world’s top performers and teachers.

Redefining choral music, their polyphonic sound sometimes employs words, sometimes tones, to achieve a dense soundscape and an effect reviewers have called “hypnotic and intensely moving.”

An important part of their mission is commissioning works from leading new-music composers, including Caleb Burhans (who has performed on BGSU’s New Music Festival), Anna Clyne, Fred Hersch, Wally Gunn, Sarah Kirkland Snider, Missy Mazzoli and Ted Hearne.

A look at some of their recent projects and collaborations illustrates the breadth of their interests and commitment. They include “The Colorado,” a music-driven documentary film that explores water, land and survival in the Colorado River Basin (featuring former Kronos Quartet cellist Jeffrey Zeigler and Wilco’s Glenn Kotche); collaborations with NOW Ensemble, Kanye West and the American Contemporary Music Ensemble; performances with the Seattle Symphony featuring Luciano Berio's “Sinfonia,” appearances at new music festivals in the United States, Mexico and Canada; and partnerships with over a dozen higher education institutions across the country.

The Dorothy E. and DuWayne H. Hansen Musical Arts Series Fund was established in 1996 to bring to the campus and the Bowling Green community significant representatives of the musical arts to share their talents with undergraduate and graduate students in the College of Musical Arts and with residents of the community.

Dorothy Hansen is an alumna of the College of Musical Arts, while DuWayne Hansen is a former chair of the Department of Music Education.