My review of Roomful of Teeth is up at SFCV!
With its name alone, Roomful of Teeth sets the mind on edge. The notion of a roomful of teeth is unsettling; no matter how you wash the blood off or put the teeth in jars or pretend they’re dinosaur teeth, it’s an undeniably visceral image, perhaps a name more suited to a metal band than a vocal ensemble.
And though the solo voice repertoire has Sprechstimmed, screeched, and swooped all the way through the 20th Century, the common mode of music for voices in harmony is still overwhelmingly pretty, excluding most other interesting ways to compose and perform. The vocal octet delivered none of that monotony: It finished up Trinity Wall Street’s Twelfth Night Festival on January 5 with a program of new works, embracing the dissonances with a grin.
Trinity Director of Music Julian Wachner introduced the program as “mostly wordless,” but Partita for 8 Voices, the first piece, began with a flurry of spoken English words. Line drawing instructions by artist Sol Lewitt combined with square dancing calls into a jumble of syllables that finally transformed into a joyfully belted American vowel that would make most choir directors’ hair stand on end. (Most choir directors are not directing Roomful of Teeth, and everyone is better off for it.)