What do you get when you mix 28 voices with a medley of percussion instruments? A Phoenix Chorale concert, of course! The Phoenix Chorale is going out with a BANG with their final concert series of the season, “The Rhythm of Life.” An exploration of musical cultures from various corners of the world, these concerts combine percussion and choral music through pieces from Finland, America, Korea, West Africa and Estonia. Sonja Branch, our featured performer, will be using an array of percussion instruments including the marimba, djembe, claves, shakere, shaman drum, and a traditional Korean kkyangari drum, just to name a few. Some of the singers will also be using instruments to accompany the repertoire.
One of the cool pieces on the program is called “Clapping Music” by Steve Reich. Artistic Director Charles Bruffy and Sonja will create rhythm with their hands, beginning in unison, and then Sonja will change her rhythm ever so slightly by moving one eighth note to the left every few measures until they are back in unison. As complicated as it sounds, here’s a video to help you visualize it. Imagine the three people on the left as Charles clapping, and the three people on the right as Sonja clapping. Pretty crazy, huh!
The rhythm in “Clapping Music” then segues right into Leonard Bernstein’s French Choruses from “The Lark.” Another interesting piece is Veljo Tormis’s “Curse Upon Iron” [Raua needmine]. This bone shaking, drum beating song is a little more intense than the choral music you may be used to. With an aggressive combination of striking the drum and singer’s voices chanting, you will feel the strong emotion of the music hit you. Listen to the State Choir Latvija singing it here:
This is only my second Phoenix Chorale concert series, and after being blown away after my first concert, “Chant & Beyond,” I am very excited to hear “The Rhythm of Life” this April. My choral background goes about as far as singing in 8th grade choir, but the sound of the Phoenix Chorale has absolutely caught my interest. I am especially looking forward to this concert because I think the percussion will add a host of rhythmic sensation! While the choral scene is still relatively new to me, I do come from a strong dance background and can’t wait to hear the musical pairing of voice and instruments come together–don’t be surprised to see me movin’ in my seat! Also, I think it will be cool to see the rhythm take life through the movement of the the percussion being played.
Speaking of instruments, I am very excited to see what they all look and sound like. I’ve heard that Sonja is an excellent percussionist and she has spent a wealth of time studying music in Africa. Sonja Branch and the Phoenix Chorale will bring you a concert so authentic, you’ll feel as if you’ve taken a two hour musical journey around the globe.
We hope to see you there to accompany us in our final concert series of the season. Get your tickets here, and experience “The Rhythm of Life”!
–Tori Bartolozzi, Marketing & PR Intern