The vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth was founded in 2009 by Williams College music professor Brad Wells to explore the potential of the human voice. Since then, this ensemble has expanded both its repertoire and its reputation, winning a Grammy award in 2014 for its debut album “Roomful of Teeth.”
Performance Santa Fe brings Roomful of Teeth to St. Francis Auditorium on January 21 to present a variety of vocal works that were specifically commissioned by the eight-member ensemble. Audience members get a chance to hear pieces composed by Wells, Pulitzer-prize winning composer and Roomful of Teeth singer Caroline Shaw and composer Ted Hearne, who wrote his five-movement work “Coloring Book” for the ensemble in 2015.
Roomful of Teeth had its humble beginnings at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) in North Adams, Massachusetts when Wells, who serves as conductor and artistic director, brought together the eight singers he had auditioned and selected to be part of the group. The original members still comprise the group, which continues to meet in Western Massachusetts each summer.
“Our time together in North Adams is intense, but it’s also relaxing,” explains bass Cameron Beauchamp. “What’s great is it’s just us working at our own pace. The experience is like a think tank. We throw out ideas while learning new techniques and rehearsing.”
Roomful of Teeth has studied Tuvan and Inuit throat singing, yodeling, Korean P’ansori, Georgian and Persian singing, Sardinian cantu a tenore and Hindustani music techniques with some of the world’s top performers and teachers. “We’re not trying to master any of these techniques but rather be influenced by their sounds,” adds Beauchamp. “There are an endless number of sounds we want to explore in the future.”
While in Santa Fe, Roomful of Teeth will record a new album at The Kitchen Sink studio.