The Grammy-winning vocal ensemble, “Room Full of Teeth,” presented by the Candlelight Concert Society, performed beautifully at the Smith Theatre in the Horowitz Visual and Performing Arts Center at Howard Community College on Saturday, April 9.
Room Full of Teeth’s performance is a unique experience which CCS’s audiences have come to expect. The group uses their voices as instruments. There is no band, orchestra, piano or even a rhythm instrument. Instead, Kathryn Radakovich, Katy Avery, Mingljia Chen, Virginia Kelsey, Steven Bradshaw, Thann Scoggin, Thomas McCargar and Cameron Beauchamp, who cover five octaves, use their wonderfully resonating voices to entrance the listener. Sometimes they do sing actual words, but the the soloist is backed up by the others in the group substituting for traditional instruments.
No one can say that the sounds coming from the stage are not those of very talented vocalists. At times, listening to them is like listening to a lullaby in a foreign language. You do not really hear the words or understand them, yet you still appreciate the soothing sounds.
Room Full of Teeth’s performance is a unique experience which CCS’s audiences have come to expect.
That is not to say all the numbers were tranquil. Some reflected sounds of the street, like “Montmarte” by Judd Greenstein. Another piece was Greenstein’s “Run Away” which is poetry sung with the others in the group providing the musical accompaniment.
Peter Shin’s “IV. I’m happy (reprise),” from his longer “bits torn from words,” reflects his Korean background. “Vesper Sparrow” by Miss Mazzoli mirrors “birdsong with Sardinian overtones.” Most relaxing was Brad Wells’ “Render” which he wrote in a cottage in Vermont. It was a perfectly peaceful reflection of nature.
The major piece of the night was group member Carolne Shaw’s “Partita for 8 Voices.” Like most of the pieces, this masterpiece was written for Roomful of Teeth. The selection won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Classical Composition and received the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for music. Shaw was the youngest composer to win that award.
There is a inscription on the score. “’Partita’ is a simple piece. Born of a love of surface and structure, of the human voice, of dancing and tired ligaments, of music, and of our basic desire to draw a line from one point to another.” The piece has five movements with the sounds of square dance, folk hymns, and Inuit sounds. It was dessert for the ears.
Roomful of Teeth is headed abroad but will soon be back home in the United States. If they appear in your area, I recommend you see them perform especially if you enjoy classical and experimental music.
Running Time: One hour and 30 minutes with one intermission.
Room Full of Teeth performed on April 9, 2022 at Candlelight Concert Society, Smith Theatre, Horowitz Visual and Performing Arts Center at Howard Community College, Campus Dr, Columbia, MD 21044.
Cuarteto Latinoamericano will be appearing on Saturday, April 23, 2022 and the American String Quartet with composer and pianist, Octavio Vazquez on Sunday, May 22, 2022. For those who were set to see Dénes Vájon, Piano last month, that concert will now be held on Wednesday, June 1, 2022. All concerts are at the Smith Theatre. For tickets for these concerts go, to this link.