About two weeks ago a friend of mine posted a video on Facebook from an acapella group called Voces8.
Now, I was a choir rat back in the day. I sang in the various school choirs from fourth grade through high school and occasionally in college, though as an undergraduate I did most of my singing in a band because everyone in college should be in a band. It’s a lot of fun and requires no talent, or at least it didn’t when I signed up. I spent much of my time in grad school in a touring choir, performing all over western Pennsylvania and occasionally as far away as New York City. It’s been a while since I’ve done more than sing along to the various CDs and YouTube videos that I play these days – and even that is not as often as it used to be – but there is a certain amount of muscle memory that you retain from all of that.
I was absolutely floored by this group. They have a lot of videos on YouTube and by this point I’ve probably listened to them all. I’ve certainly tried, anyway. They perform a lot of church music from the Renaissance and forward, as well as more recent stuff – both modern composers and modern popular music. They do a version of Danny Boy that is just heartbreaking. These people are really, REALLY talented.
They also do this:
Do you know how hard that is to do? It’s not just the singing, though it is that too. It’s the stopping and starting at the same time. It’s the fact that they’re lined up in a circle facing away from each other, with no outside conductor to lead them. None of the groups I’ve been in would have even thought to attempt that.
They’re a British group so I had resigned myself to the fact that they were never going to be performing anywhere near southern Wisconsin but when I checked their website it turned out that they were coming to a venue not all that far from me on Sunday.
The concert was sold out, however.
So I grieved for a bit, and then called the venue last weekend to see if I could get on the waitlist. There wasn’t anyone there when I called, but I left a message. Can’t hurt; might help.
Monday I called back and asked the polite young person who answered what, realistically, were the odds were that I’d move up the list and get tickets. “Well,” he said, “to be honest, not good.” There were a lot of people in front of me. Oh well. It was worth a shot.
And then two days later I got a message on my answering machine saying that there were two tickets in my name if I wanted them and I should call them back to let them know. I don’t know whether they had a rush of cancellations or just decided to squeeze in more seats, but at that point I was not about to ask.
I damn near set fire to the phone line calling them back at speed. I spoke to a different polite young person who took my name and information and emailed me a confirmation. “How much are the tickets?” I asked when she was done. “Oh, they’re free. We just need reservations.”
Well things are looking better and better, aren’t they?
The concert was everything I hoped it would be and then some.
Kim and I ended up sitting front row center, maybe ten feet from where they were on the stage, which is probably not the best place to be acoustically but was plenty for me. They performed for about an hour, plus two encores. It was beautiful music, from incredibly talented people.
The lovely thing about being fans of musicians who are not MegaStars is that you can actually talk to them afterward. They hung around in the hall outside the venue after the concert and they were very gracious about speaking to this middle-aged fanboy. They signed one of the CDs I bought (I always like to buy CDs directly from the artists if I can, since they get more of the money that way, and you can’t sign an mp3 now, can you?) and they were all kind enough to chat briefly and let me take selfies with them.
Sometimes you need a reminder that there is beauty in this old world.
If you ever get a chance to see Voces8 in concert you should go. I’ll probably see you there.