After three years of well attended performances at MASS MoCA in 2009, 2010, and 2011, Roomful of Teeth returns to perform what is quickly becoming an annual sold-out favorite on Friday, August 31, at 8 PM in the museum’s intimate Club B-10. Roomful of Teeth is a vocal octet that embraces the full spectrum of non-traditional vocal practices and develops new compositions through an ongoing commissioning project. Founded in 2008 by Williams College music educator, conductor, and singer Brad Wells, the ensemble is built upon the idea that any singer can learn any “non-native” singing language, regardless of his or her background. Roomful of Teeth incorporates an ever-widening circle of singing styles and invites composers to develop new works for this new model of vocal ensemble. For this year’s work-in-progress concert, Roomful of Teeth will perform work by young composer Missy Mazzoli, who Time Out NY calls “Brooklyn’s post-millennial Mozart”.
Roomful of Teeth is founded upon the notion that the membranes that separate one vocal style from another are wholly permeable. Brad Wells says singing styles are “audible fingerprints”, as they serve as markers of the human diaspora on the original instrument, the voice. He believes that the vocal techniques required to create these diverse fingerprints can be taught to anyone despite cultural, ethnic, and musical background. Wells hopes to “bring the full range of human voice back together for a family reunion” by incorporating and overlapping varied singing techniques from around the world into one ensemble of performers.