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In appreciation of Ives and Psalm 90

I’ll have many musical highlights from my 2022 Tanglewood residency — the soaring shouts of the chorus in Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances, finally feeling comfortable enough with pronouncing the Russian in Shostakovich’s Third, and the double bass entrance in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony that almost brings me to tears every time I hear it before we sing. That said, the most musically satisfying part of the weekend will be our performance of Charles Ives’ Psalm 90 as the prelude to the Beethoven Ninth on Sunday afternoon.

The piece itself, written in 1924, is primarily choral, accompanied by an organ, three racks of bells, and a gong. As a modernist composer, Ives is known for experimenting with polytonality, polyrhythm, and tone clusters… so I won’t lie, I was trepidatious upon learning it was on the program. A casual first listening verifies that, yes, many parts sound cacophonous to an ear expecting predictable cadences and chord progressions. In general, I don’t gravitate to modern pieces that revel in dissonance and gimmicks, and at first glance, Psalm 90 feels like one of those – obscure and intellectual just for the sake of being outrageous and challenging. But I read that Ives claimed this piece was “the only one of his works that satisfied him.” It took immersing myself in it to better understand its laudable cleverness and layered meaning.

First off, I’m a sucker for tone painting, be it lions leaping and worms crawling in Haydn’s The Creation, or the galloping horse in Schubert’s Die Erlkönig. Here, Ives even goes so far as to preview on the page who the musical dramatis personae are. The C major chord is “The Eternities;” a heavily dissonant chord is “God’s wrath against sin,” then followed by some mysterious chords for “Prayer and Humility,” and finally a quiet passage for “Rejoicing in Beauty and Work.” That low C from the organ plays throughout the entire piece, representing God’s constancy (and a great anchor for pre-tuning our tougher entrances.)

A-flat major on the bottom, then C minor, then E-flat major, then G minor…

Throughout, words like anger, wrath, destruction, and flood are accompanied by that heavily dissonant chord to communicate their accompanying ruin. But in preparing us for this piece, our conductor James Burton showed us that the notes in those dissonant chords actually have a very specific internal relationship. Take any three adjacent voices and they form a major or minor chord, laddering up by fifths. By the time you get to the top soprano note, it’s a half-step off of the bass note. Together it may sound like a mess, but it’s intentional and distinctive, and each voice can find anchors above and below to tune to and establish those resonances. Pretty clever, and it recurs throughout the piece despite the constancy of God’s C underneath it.

I underlined the words with stress to try and stay in time with everyone

In fact, what stands out about this piece is how unified and together the chorus must be, listening to each other, never being the first one in or the last one out. Take, for instance, the chanted verses. There’s no written pattern, no conducting… the chorus must feel the collective rhythm of the phrases and stay together. “The days of our years are three score years and ten…” in four beats… okay, go! It fits those verses: humanity musing and reflecting together.

Another innovative moment is in the middle of the piece, where the time between each note goes from 9 sixteenth counts… to 8… to 7, 6, all the way down to one, as the chorus further and further subdivides itself until we reach a giant cluster of notes (on “wrath,” no less)… then by 1 beat, 2, 3, 4, all the way back up to 9, we come back together and find unison. Sounds like there’s a message there, too.

There are other subtleties in the music too, like the verse about “from one generation to another… to another… to another.” The music gets quieter and “drifts,” like each generation inheriting from the previous but evolving… which again Ives notes in the text.

Out of this earlier recitation of chaos come the later verses, bringing us the others from the introduction: first prayer, then beauty. We basses chant on a C for almost the entire ending, mirroring the “God foundation on constancy” from before. There’s one mention of “evil” that sneaks in to interrupt the peace, like a bad memory briefly surfacing to interrupt one’s meditation… but the last few minutes of the piece construct this sublime ethereal beauty that hangs in the air as the chimes echo like distant church bells, with us getting softer and softer until the final peaceful Amen. It completes the journey of mankind causing our own downfall time and time again, yet pulling together to glorify the work we do as one. It’s a breathless experience that reaffirms my faith in humanity, that we will get out of the way of ourselves, each time I hear it.

James himself is conducting the piece for our performance, which has provided the opportunity to cue in specifically on his gestures and exhortations, rather than having to translate that to another conductor. I’m very much looking forward to sharing what should be a nice complement to the B9’s message of joy.

Tomorrow is my re-audition day

Tomorrow, around 6:15, I’ll walk into the chorus room at Symphony Hall. I’ll smile and turn to the panel of evaluators, and confidently answer their question, “What will you be singing for us?” with “Roger Quilter’s Dream Valley, from Three Songs by William Blake,” and give each of them a copy. I’ll stroll over to the accompanist and hand over another copy, and quietly sing the first two bars to set the tempo. Then I’ll take my place, music-less, and smile as the opening notes remind me of the key. I’ll wiggle my shoulders a little to get comfortable as I tilt my head downwards, opening the back of my throat and keeping my larynx correctly positioned. I’ll remember to breathe from my upper lungs not just my diaphragms for full breaths. And I’ll sing with a knowing smile, while hitting the breaths and phrase shapes and dynamics that I’ve been practicing over the last 4-6 weeks. I’ll put to use the extra coaching I received from a master class and private lesson, and be in the moment.

Once completed, I’ll turn for my music folder and pick up the Finzi excerpt we were asked to prepare. I’ll come in perfectly on time and sing the three minutes of high and low music across several key, tempo, and color changes, with great cutoffs. I’ll finish on my final low note with another smile.

Then I’ll receive one to two sight singing pieces to work through. They’ll be unfamiliar pieces, but straightforward enough in rhythm with some tricky intervals and tonality changes. I won’t get them all right and that’s to be expected while reading a piece, but I’ll do well enough to be pleased.

Finally, I’ll tackle the ear training session, naming intervals, singing middle notes of major and minor chords, picking out 4ths and 6ths from established tonalities. I’ll treat it mentally as a game, just like the app I was using to quiz myself over the last few months.

I write all this down because this is my affirmation to myself. This is the visualization I’ve run through in my head each night and each morning. I can see the room; I can hear myself singing; I can feel the sense of triumph as I finish my solo selection. It’s always been important for me to set goals and to visualize success, and I walk into this re-audition feeling confident and secure. A part of me fears the Dunning-Kruger effect, where less competent people think they’re better than they actually are. But I know how much I don’t know, and how much better people who have studied all their lives are than me. I don’t aspire to be the best. I aspire to be better than I was, and good enough to sing another three years with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus. We will see what tomorrow brings.

Transitions and Trust

The Tanglewood Festival Chorus is going through the same sort of uncomfortable transition that all organizations do when there is change at the top.  And, as with any such leadership transition, there is pain.  Pain from those asked to leave the organization.  Survivor’s guilt from those invited to stay.  Friendships tested as the community fractures into those in favor of the new world order, and those opposed, and those who don’t want to pick sides and just want to get back to work… and everywhere in between.  In the hullabaloo, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that many long-time members, who wanted to stay with the chorus but didn’t pass the re-audition, are hurting.  You have my sympathies. I know I may face the same situation next year after my re-audition.

Here’s the background, via some uncontested facts:

  • Most high-level auditioned musical groups require members to periodically reaudition to secure their continued participation in the group.
  • The founder and long-time conductor of our chorus, John Oliver, had ceased using the reaudition process during his final years running the chorus.
  • John Oliver retired.  After two years (and several candidates), James Burton was selected as the new head of the chorus.
  • About a year into his leadership, in the fall of 2017, James asked all choristers to participate in a “sing-in” by preparing and performing a short solo piece for him.  According to James, some people did well, some people did okay, some people did not do well.
  • Following the sing-in process, James reinstituted the reaudition process, with some sight-singing and music theory requirements beyond what John Oliver had asked for previously.
  • Dozens of choristers declined to reaudition.  Dozens more were told they did not pass the audition.  Those cut included several long-time members who have spent decades singing in the chorus and have many ties within the organization’s community.

From there, opinions diverge.  Did James Burton treat the cut choristers fairly?  Did he communicate the sing-in and audition requirements and rubric properly?  How high should the bar be for a volunteer chorus?  Were those cut shown the respect they deserve after contributing decades of their time and money to the organization? Why did he tell people not to worry last year when the Huffington Post asked if “a new broom sweeps clean,” if he was planning to remove so many members?

Rather than litigate the answers to these questions — given I have friends and fellow musicians on both sides of the issues —  I will instead point out what was lost in this entire process: Trust.

There’s a great business book by Robert Bruce Shaw called Trust in the Balance which talks extensively about the importance of trust when building successful organizations.  He talks about how easily trust can be lost, and that once a certain threshold of distrust is passed, every action and behavior serves to further validate the leadership’s untrustworthiness — it even becomes difficult for supporters not to question every action.  He says trust is built through three pillars: results, integrity, and concern.

James Burton and the organization have been strongly focused on the results pillar.  He has repeatedly emphasized his desire to achieve artistic excellence by making a world class organization even better.  As the conductor, he has defined ambitious performance targets and made decisions on how to pursue them, and many (but not all) singers have come to trust the results he’s achieved and the process he uses to get there.  He and the organization have also built trust by demonstrating concern: engaging with the chorus, building familiarity and dialogue, and showing confidence in our abilities.  But integrity, however, demands consistency between words and actions, and a level of openness that was not achieved through the re-audition process.  The callous form letter notifications and the sheer number of people failing the reauditions were alarming departures from  the reassuring impressions at the start of his tenure. None of the chorus members anticipated the depth of change coming until the snail mail notifications began arriving one by one in people’s mailboxes.

We’re in the middle of this trust deficit now.  Fortunately, many choristers I know have not crossed that “trust threshold.”  They recognize that mistakes were made, but can be corrected, and they continue to trust in James Burton’s leadership.  Many choristers I know have long since crossed the trust threshold, and no one can convince them that anything James does is good for the chorus.  Several of those choristers apparently went to the Boston Globe with their story, leading to the publishing of a terribly unflattering front-page article about the situation which I hesitate to even link here.  It’s filled with vitriolic comments from James’s most ardent detractors.  (Outlets such as the Boston Music Intelligencer presented a more balanced viewpoint.)

What do these articles do, besides helping to satisfy those determined to ruin the organization?  They further erode trust.  The Globe narrative is “management vs chorus,” which will increase suspicion and paranoia on both sides.  It impedes the open communication required between the two.  As a chorus member, I’m reluctant to talk to other chorus members about my opinion on the answers to those questions, lest I alienate another friendship.  It will take a while to work through all this with my peers… just like it has for every “Reduction In Force” layoff I experienced at other companies in my career.  These are not new problems for an organization in transition.  And they will fade over time.

Trust is a precious commodity; hard to win, easy to lose and lose fast.  The solution, Shaw advises, is to make a concerted effort to overcome that distrust, by eliminating trust-eroding practices, over-communicating intentions with uncharacteristic openness, and rallying around opportunities to demonstrate teamwork — in this case, our upcoming rehearsals and concerts.  If they can continue to realign actions and words, the management team can demonstrate its integrity and slowly win back the skeptics while preventing others from crossing that trust threshold.  And then we can truly get back to what we all want to do — outstanding performances of choral works with the BSO.


The Lotti Eight-Part Crucifixus

For this year’s Tanglewood season, I am fortunate to be on the roster for the second residency, which includes our chorus’s annual Prelude concert in Ozawa Hall.  The set of a capella pieces we are singing are a fabulous assortment of sumptuous harmonies, consonant and dissonant, all dancing around each other exquisitely.  The exquisite pieces will require diligent study, careful breathing, keen awareness of the other parts to tune to, and a close eye on our conductor James Burton as he leads us through it all.

Perhaps one of the most straightforward examples of this is one piece in the middle of the program: Antonio Lotti’s Crucifixus.  Composed just as Baroque music was evolving into a Classical period style, it is one of the best known works of sacred music that the Italian composer created. I’m told that many a high school choir has learned and performed it, since the notes themselves aren’t hard to sing.  It’s how you bring them together and infuse them with passion and sorrow all while staying technically accurate and attuned to the other parts that makes the piece so transcendental.

Spend three minutes listening to a recording right now, if you haven’t already:

This video is even more enjoyable because, by displaying the sheet music, you can see what’s going on.  I love how the voices build upon each other for the first minute, then maneuver around each other, passing themes back and forth, until the mournful finish.

Trust me, it is even more exhilarating to sing it, especially with a group of musically intelligent adults fully committing themselves to producing a beautiful sound.  Our first deep rehearsals of the piece with James Burton focused on bringing out those passages of tension, finding anchor chords that we can use to tune to other parts, and carefully working out some of the trickier intervals.  And, like with the Ravel, when he emphasizes the theory, and our mentality changes from “I’m singing an A” to “I’m singing the third of F major,” something clicks in the way the ensemble sings such that we stop clinging to our separate notes and lock the tuned chord in place.  (Though I have lots of “up arrows” pencil marks in my score written above notes that are easy to overshoot in several phrases.)

The final effect is magical… and we’re not even done working it.  If you can be out at Tanglewood this summer, try to catch our performance on July 20th at Ozawa Hall.

Transforming the Chorus through Ravel

The textless, mystifyingly ethereal chord progressions of Maurice Ravel are bringing the Tanglewood Festival Chorus together in a way none of us really anticipated.

Daphnis et Chloé is one of two concert runs I’m privileged to participate in this 2017-2018 winter season. Instead of ballet dancers sharing the stage with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, it will be us from the Tanglewood Festival Chorus.

Now officially on the job for almost a year, our conductor James Burton shared some touching words with us before a recent rehearsal.  He explained that others have told him that wherever he’s conducted — and he has quite a curriculum vitae to his name — the choirs have a certain character to them that is distinctly imparted by his leadership… but that he hadn’t really achieved that yet with the TFC.  However, with the Ravel, he felt we were finally approaching how he wanted us to sound for the first time since he took over.

Part of the reason for that is that Daphnis et Chloé has no text to distract us.  Without us trying to stick the landing on German consonants, we’re left with aahs and oohs.  There’s no choice but to focus on the tuning and the quality of the sound we’re producing.  So to that end, he’s been encouraging us to find a nice choral blend, with instructions like, “Sing to the volume of the person next to you,” or riding us until we’re all making the same open /a/ vowel with the same resonance and color (“loosen your lower jaw,” “basses you’re too dark, bring the sound forward to make it brighter,” “think of the sound resonating both in front of and behind your head”).  He’s also challenged the “leaders” in the chorus (“leaders, you know who you are… and if you’re not a leader, you know who they are…”), asking them to pull back and do more listening than leading.  You have to understand, we’ve historically sung intentionally as ~120 soloists and “averaged to a blend” as part of our unique powerful sound.  We may know our parts cold but may not have internalized how we fit into the whole.  James is chipping away at that history in favor of this newer style, and it’s hard work for him and for us.

This be-one-with-the-group mentality is especially needed for this piece, because we are effectively just more instruments in the orchestra, instead of our usual starring role as a featured chorus!  Just listen to how you can sometimes barely tell the chorus is singing.  Since we have to think more like orchestra members, we already have to blend our entrances with other instruments and cross-fade with the orchestra dynamics — except, of course, during the impressive 3 minute a cappella section featured in the middle of the piece.

One of James’s most profound comments was while rehearsing that a cappella section:  “You are all singing the right notes, but you’re still not singing an A flat major chord.”  And he proved it by asking us to then sing an A flat major chord, which *was* in tune.  When we as singers get too focused on our notes and intervals (“okay, a major third up, then down a tritone, up another third…”), we lose the tuning with the rest of the chorus — and we hear it when he stops us and asks us to sing the chord by name.  For this piece in particular, we have to think in terms of chords.  James has been identifying mental stopping places where we should be thinking “this should sound like C major… this should sound like F# minor…” and so forth.  I can’t explain why this improves the sound so much, but it does.  For example, there’s a G7 major chord that always sounds like a tone cluster because each part arrives on it from a different direction… but once he had us think of it as a G major chord, suddenly this radiant sound burst forth that we’ve never achieved before, and that frankly I’ve never heard cleanly in any recording.

Though this is my first time singing the entire Suite, there are chorus members who have sung this piece ten times. I’ve been reminded by no fewer than three singers that “the BSO and TFC won a Grammy for singing this piece,” almost as if that exempts us from James’ criticism regarding our tuning efforts.  He’s challenged us with high expectations, and we’ve seen glimpses of it in rehearsals when we don’t resort back to our automatic pilot habits.  At one point he said, “Can you sense that we’re not singing this the way you’ve always done it?” and there was a forceful, almost grimacing “YES!” acknowledgement from everybody in the room.

Long-time TFC members who attended the Saturday Schumann performance, at the concert the week before this Ravel series, praised us for our diction, for our dynamics, for our tone, and for our focused singing.  But a few lamented wistfully that “it doesn’t sound like the TFC I know any more.”  I’ve witnessed this with so many leadership transitions: be it a new choral conductor, a new orchestra conductor, a new department head, or a new pastor, when there’s a new sheriff in town, the world changes.  It’s okay to mourn the past for a little while, but then you move forward, and as a follower decide if and how you’re going to embrace the vision set forth by the new leader.  And for the TFC, the Ravel represents perhaps another step in embracing a new vision of how a chorus should sound.


Starting Fresh with Schumann

“How many of you have sung either of these pieces before?” James Burton, choral director of the BSO and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, asked all of us at the first rehearsal.

Only a few knew the Nachtlied, and no one raised a hand for the Neujahrslied. “Wow – take a picture,” someone muttered. Given the breadth of choral experience and the longevity of many TFC members – some who’ve been singing with the TFC since its founding in 1970 – having a new, noncommissioned piece from an established composer is… well, it’s liberating.

So far in James Burton’s tenure, we’ve had to spend a lot of time unlearning old habits and erasing old markings. Singing conventions that John Oliver established, remixes of part roadmaps, and predefined dynamic and tempo alterations have almost been distractions during rehearsals. (We learned early on in James’ tenure not to interrupt rehearsals with questions like, “We always took an eighth rest out of this whole note, should we still do that?”)

None of that is present for these Schumann lieder. That means we get to discover these rarely performed pieces on our own terms, and collectively apply our musicianship rather than lazily relying on “how we’ve always done it.”

A great example was one moment in the first morning orchestra rehearsal, in the Neujahrslied. The chorus and orchestra come together in a series of solid chords after furtively creeping through a mysterious fugue. When we first performed it, it was… fine. Then Andris Nelsons asked the orchestra to hold back on the volume and play their part with long, sustained notes — call it un poco maestoso (a little majestic). He then asked the chorus to sing espressivo (expressively and dramatically), so that we would stand out in the foreground against this tapestry created by the orchestra.

This matter-of-fact correction, unwritten anywhere in the literal music itself, completely changed the character of that moment. It was like looking into an old Viewmaster and seeing a 2D slide jump to life in 3D. And that was just one adjustment in over an hour of adjustments, notwithstanding all the similar tweaks that James Burton put in place during the hour before we joined the orchestra. It was a completely engaging, satisfying rehearsal, basking in the expertise of learned leaders and a top-notch orchestra even as we contributed our part.

The result should be an enjoyable performance for audience members now going through the same process of discovery that we did, as these sumptuous pieces come to life.

Podcast #4: Belshazzar’s Feast with the TFC

In this episode, we commemorate a performance of William Walton’s composition, Belshazzar’s Feast, as sung by the Tanglewood Festival Chorus out in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts in July of 2017, under the preparation of our new choral director James Burton and one of the chorus’s favorite orchestral conductors, Bramwell Tovey.  While I personally didn’t get the chance to sing this concert, I did get to spend the weekend out there listening to many of my friends in the chorus rehearse and internalize this piece, and give a phenomenal performance on that Sunday afternoon.

So to capture the love and joy poured into preparing this piece, on the weekend before the concert I interviewed four chorus members about the experience.  I’ve also included appropriate clips from the final performance.

I hope you enjoy listening to everyone’s insights as much as I enjoyed talking to them and witnessing their work that weekend.  My thanks again to Diane Droste, Joy Emerson Brewer, James Gleason, and Diana Gamet for taking some time out of their Tanglewood residency to talk to me.

You can hear a playback of that performance on website here.

Resurrecting Mahler’s Second Symphony

It’s that time again.  Time for Bass 2’s in the back row to bust out the low B-flats and the high G’s.  Time to explore a dynamic range that starts at pppp and ends at ffff.  Time for the Tanglewood Festival Chorus to sing Mahler’s 2nd, the “Resurrection” symphony!

We’re performing this Friday, for the opening night performance of the 2017 Tanglewood season out here in the Berkshires.  As I write this, we have one run-through left before the concert itself. And I’ll make the bold claim that we’ll be more prepared to sing this piece than we have in perhaps two decades, thanks to the prep work by new TFC chorus director James Burton and BSO conductor Andris Nelsons.

Like my last experience unfamiliarizing myself with the Mozart Requiem, the Mahler is extremely well-known piece to our chorus, which means once again we’ve had to unlearn what we’ve previously learned.  I personally have found myself slipping into muscle memory and old habits if I’m not actively concentrating on being present, and singing what we’ve been taught over the last several rehearsals.  In this respect, one of James’s comments was particularly insightful — he suggested that if we weren’t actively taking part, we were “just singing along.”  Guilty.  In fact, I’d argue that a good portion of our chorus (myself included) has been “singing along” to familiar pieces for at least the last couple years, if not longer.

And what has he been teaching us, this time around?  New tricks for staying in tune during the a capella opening, like singing the e-flats and a-flats almost too sharp.  (James: “You’re playing this too safe.  You’re comfortably sitting back in the middle of the note and that’s why your pitch sags later on.)  Physical reminders, like “showing the audience your eyebrows” and various hand and body movements in rehearsals to connect our bodies to the music.  Enunciation notes so our German sounds like, you know, German — so that words like entstanden aren’t split up into three separate unnatural-sounding syllables.  Being aware of the other choral parts so that we tune to create a unified sound, rather than focusing solely on our own line.  The effect has been revelatory.

The preparation has not been without its minor conflicts.  Sometimes Andris will ask for something that seems to conflict with James’s preparation.  Andris may ask for a stronger legato, but James will remind us that we need our “gorilla accents” on each note.  (James had us actually making deep gorilla grunt noises in an earlier rehearsal to really emphasize the connection between our diaphragms and the marcato accents.)  Or Andris might appear to be asking for a darker sound from us, when James and our diction coach Livia Racz have been reminding us to keep the sound more forward in our mouths.  In cases like both of these the answer is frequently that “Both are right.”  The marcato should not sacrifice a sense of horizontal connectedness. The darker sound Andris wants is actually a deeper, more supported forceful call that doesn’t require going back into the throat to achieve.

Like the Busoni piece from earlier this year, it’s tempting to question why we spend so much effort for what is effectively less than 10 minutes of stage presence at the end of a much longer piece.  But the answer comes at every performance — that pouring out of your soul from the whispered choral entrance at the beginning to the total catharsis of the end, with gongs and chimes and brass and organ all combining to an apotheosis of gorgeous sound… it’s one of those life experiences that can’t be duplicated anywhere else.

Podcast #3: Daughters Discovered with Kristen Wylie

In today’s episode we explore a great feel-good story – especially if you’re a parent.  Who among us when singing, or when hearing your son or daughter singing, hasn’t at least daydreamed of that singing happening on a big stage, with audiences cheering, on some sort of national tour.  (Maybe you remember Susan Boyle?)  That’s part of the appeal of shows like The Voice, or American Idol, or the “Golden Buzzer” of America’s Got Talent.

Now what if Susan Boyle is a tween, and you’re her mom…?

In this session, I’m interviewing Kristen Wylie, a friend and actually a former coworker of mine.  She is the mother of two daughters: 12 year old Amanda, and 9 year old Katie, from Franklin, Massachusetts.  Her two daughters had been taking singing, acting, and dancing lessons, and really enjoyed performing.  On a whim while in New York, they joined several hundred other girls during an open call for the third national touring production of Annie.  Listen to the interview to hear their own rags-to-riches story, and maybe get a vicarious thrill for the next time you dream of your voice being discovered.

Here are some links to the clips I’ve included in the episode, if you want to hear more than just the clips:





Podcast #2: Chris Reichert and Singing Barbershop

In this episode we explore Barbershop Quartets.  If you sing primarily in a classical chorus, like I do, you may not be as familiar with the ins and outs of Barbershop Quartets.  So for this topic, I interviewed a close friend of mine whom I’ve known for decades, Chris Reichert.  Chris has a lot of talents, but in the world of singing he’s a great interviewee because he’s made the transition from a capella singing to choral singing to Barbershop Quartet singing.

Here are some links to the full versions of the clips I included in this podcast.  Go check them out and enjoy the full songs!

  • The first ringing clip is 2 minutes into this YouTube version of No No Nora by “Four Voices.” As a bonus, it shows a running spectral analysis that highlights the amazing extra 5th tone created by the overtones.
  • The other ringing clip is 2 minutes, 41 seconds into this full clip of Stars and Stripes Forever by Acoustix.
  • The brief clip from Sure on This Shining Night, one of Barber’s Four Songs, comes from the Cambridge University Chamber Choir recording on the album Barber: Choral and Organ Works, directed by Timothy Brown.
  • The Foolish Over You tag is one of many downloadable learning tracks available at
  • The women’s chorus singing barbershop style is a clip from the YouTube channel, from the 2014 International Convention in Baltimore.  That selection was for the 3rd place finalists, the Harborlites Chorus, about 3 minutes into the clip.
  • When Chris talked about hearing amazing stuff at the Internationals, one of the performances he pointed me to was The Westminster Chorus, who won the 2015 International Chorus Championship.  This excerpt is from their performance of Seize the Day, from the musical Newsies.  Definitely go watch that, and then watch them do A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes.
  • The comedic performances that Chris referred to was this performance by Main Street, whom he saw live at the International Competition.  Check out the full performance of “20 years from now”, where they take several modern songs and “barbershop them” here.
  • Even though the audio isn’t as good, I had to sneak in a Dapper Dan’s performance of Coney Island Baby.  Do yourself a favor and just watch the whole thing with video, below, because I just love the physical comedy that they interject into their performance.