Roomful of Teeth
Feb 14 2016
“Besides having the visceral appeal of beautifully produced vocalism, the repertoire often shows antecedents in traditional hymns, folkish songs, and the Beach Boys while spiraling into uncharted harmonic galaxies and timbres.” David Patrick Stearns, The Philadelphia Inquirer
A Grammy-winning vocal ensemble dedicated to mining the potential of the human voice, Roomful of Teeth creates new, beautiful, and meaningful music with the human voice. Led by artistic director Brad Wells, the band has perfected such wide-ranging techniques as Tuvan throat singing, yodeling, belting, Inuit throat singing, Korean P’ansori, Georgian singing, Sardinian cantu a tenore, Hindustani music, and Persian classical singing—all to create their own unique sounds.
The eight-voice ensemble continually pushes the horizon of the music of the human voice. In 2015, Roomful of Teeth’s released their new album, Render (New Amsterdam Records). Dubbed “both beautiful and groovy as hell” (The Thoroughfare), the album features debut recordings of works by William Brittelle, Caleb Burhans, ensemble tenor Eric Dudley, Wally Gunn, Missy Mazzoli, and Brad Wells.
Interview with Brad Wells, Artistic Director
FringeArts: What was the initial inspiration for Roomful of Teeth?
Brad Wells: I had wanted to create a new kind of vocal ensemble since encountering Meredith Monk and the world of new music in college. The idea gradually clarified over the years as I fell in love with various styles of singing from around the world.
FringeArts: How has the group grown artistically over the year?
Brad Wells: As with any musical group that works together for years, we’re now in our sixth year, the group has become tighter and stronger as a musical organism. What I didn’t expect, I’d say, was how much great music has been written for the group and how quickly it has connected with audiences.
FringeArts: How do you approach putting together a program?
Brad Wells: We go for variety as well as a sense of direction and coherence. I like to take a deep dive with a one composer, if possible—perhaps a larger work that lasts half the evening. And then we’ll juxtapose that with a variety of shorter works by different composers that show off some of the great vocal and emotional range of the group. It makes for a concert that, I think it’s safe to say, is exciting, sometimes moving and never boring.
FringeArts: What makes you excited about the work you are doing now and which the group did on the new recording, render?
Brad Wells: It’s thrilling to feel like we’ve built a musical house that lots of people can enter—either as creators or as listeners. We love making music from within the ensemble—exploring the seemingly endless possibilities of how the voice can move us – and we love bringing all sorts of composers and teachers in to broaden our vision and make more amazing music.
Photo by Bonica AyalaGet Tickets