Roomful of Teeth, the ensemble of Grammy-winning vocal titans led by Williams College faculty member Brad Wells, returns to its summer home at MASS MoCA to create new works and hone techniques, culminating in a knock-out performance. Roomful of Teeth takes the Hunter Center stage on Friday, August 19, 2016 at 8pm.
For its annual residency at MASS MoCA this summer, Roomful of Teeth invites four composers to write new repertoire for the group that incorporates their cumulative study of vocal techniques: vocalist, composer, and Guggenheim Fellow Toby Twining; celebrated American trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire; musician, composer, and former member of The Books Nick Zammuto; and writer, librettist, musician, performer, director, and 2009 composer alumnus Rinde Eckert (who was at MASS MoCA this winter with a stunning work-in-progress showing of The Aging Magician). The group will also study death metal techniques with Androo O’Hearn of the Texas-based group Shaolin Death Squad.
Roomful of Teeth was pioneered in 2009 by Wells as an experimental vocal ensemble with the intention to “mine the expressive potential of the human voice.” The group is made up of eight vocalists, including Wells, whose vocal exploration knows no boundaries. They’ve learned from the masters of Tuvan throat singing; Korean p’ansori; Sardinian Cantu atenore; Georgian singing; yodeling; and many additional global techniques, resulting in a polychromatic sound that intertwines time-honored singing traditions with the world of contemporary classical music. The ensemble released its eponymous debut album in 2012 and a second studio album, Render, in 2015, and performed The Colorado, a music-driven, multimedia documentary project that explores the cultural history of the Colorado River Basin. In residency at MASS MoCA in 2014, under the working title Water Songs: Hay Ŧay G’am, Roomful of Teeth made its New York City premiere at the Met with The Colorado in May of this year. The group’s other recent endeavors include collaborations with NOW Ensemble and the Contemporary Music Ensemble, and performances with the Seattle Symphony, and Kanye West.
Roomful of Teeth has performed at Merkin Concert Hall, Lincoln Center, (Le) Poisson Rouge, National Sawdust, Town Hall Seattle, Carlsbad Music Festival, and Fusebox Festival, among others, and has received accolades from Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, The Village Voice, The Seattle Times, and The New York Times, which called the group’s performance of Caroline Shaw’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Partita for 8 Voices “precisely, joyously done.”
Roomful of Teeth returns home to MASS MoCA’s Hunter Center on Friday, August 19, 2016 at 8pm. Dinner is available from Lickety Split before and during the show. A full bar serves Bright Ideas Brewing beers and Berkshire Mountain Distillery spirits. Concert tickets are $16 in advance and for students, $22 day of, and $28 preferred. Tickets for all events are available through the MASS MoCA box office located on Marshall Street in North Adams, open 10am to 6pm every day, with extended evening hours to 7pm on Thursdays through Saturdays. Tickets can also be charged by phone by calling 413.662.2111 x1 during box office hours or purchased online at massmoca.org. All events are held rain or shine.