Saturday, April 5, 2014

London to Hold Inaugural A Cappella Competition

A cappella singing is a fascinating genre of music. A cappella means “in the style of the church” in Italian, and it harkens back to the earliest forms of western music in medieval Europe, plainchant (of which Gregorian chant is part) and later organum, which were unaccompanied liturgical singing. Yet, a cappella singing can embrace some of the most current trends in music, limited only by the capabilities of the human voice.

St. John’s, Smith Square, originally an Anglican church in London, was firebombed in World War II and left to stand as a ruin with a gaping hole in its roof for over 20 years. It was restored as a concert venue in the 1960s and now, in a nod to the genre’s ecclesiastical roots, is set to host the inaugural London International A Cappella Competition. The competition features groups from the British Isles, Continental Europe, the Scandinavian Peninsula, and the USA. Originally planned to celebrate British composer Sir John Tavener’s 70th Birthday, it was reorganized as a memorial, and features a mixture or Renaissance polyphony and recent compositions. The renowned early music singers The Tallis Scholars open the festival, and Lady Maryanna Tavener presents the awards at its close.

I am happy to see a new competition a cappella singing, though I do not see this inaugural event as much more international than the World Series. I expect in future years that we will see more competitors from outside Europe who will bring their own mixture of old music and new music to this exciting competition.

No comments: