The blurb tells that there are many choral groups all over Minnesota (I had no idea):
Is there some kind of weird vocal vortex in Minnesota? The state turns out so many excellent choral groups — at the school, church and professional levels — that it can arguably be dubbed the choral center of the U.S.
Cantus went professional in 2000 and has cut 15 albums on its own label. Unlike some choral groups who specialize in one style of music, Cantus prides itself on diversity. Just take a look at the three songs its members chose for this concert.
“Wanting Memories” is a song steeped in African-American culture, written by Ysaye Barnwell from Sweet Honey in the Rock. “Zikr,” composed by A.R. Rahman — the same guy who scored the hit movie Slumdog Millionaire — has roots in the Sufi tradition, where deep chords and repeated phrases signal a slow burn toward religious ecstasy. And the group closes with German composer Franz Biebl’s gorgeous “Ave Maria,” a signature piece for the group that blends traditional plainsong (or chant) with delicate melody and voluptuous harmonies that ascend heavenward.
I was really impressed with this set. “Wanting Memories”was very pretty all the way through. From what I can tell there are two “bass’ singers who hum the melody while the others sing different parts with various harmonies. (There’s also a shaker keeping rhythm, but that doesn’t count against the acapella in my opinion). In the middle of the song, the basses stop the humming and sing along (in a fugue style). The absence of those droning sounds is a dramatic change in the song. They resume the hums and end the song like it began–beautifully.
“Zikr” has incredibly low bass notes–they are genuinely impressive. There is an occasional drum that adds some Sufi authenticity–but the sound like they have been singing in this style their whole lives. It’s really impressive that they are doing something that seems so unlike the Minnesotans that they are. The end of the song speeds things up a bit which is a very cool sound added to a very cool song.
In introducing “Ave Maria” they explain that they started in 1995 with four guys. They expanded to 7 so they could perform this piece. This turns out not to be the traditional Ave Maria. It is very different indeed–with a traditional Latin (not Latin America, but Roman Latin) feel. And here again there is the amazing deep voice of the bass and some amazing tenors.
It’s amazing how different they sound in each of these three songs–their range is tremendous. There’s a comment in the blurb about the beauty of the human voice and that is really the case here–their voices are pristine and beautiful. It’s a marvelous Tiny Desk.
[READ: July 20, 2013] Squish #7
I love the Squish books. They’re funny and quick and often teach you a thing or two. I also love that most of the characters are named after real microbes. And each issue also has a Super Amoeba comic book scattered throughout.
As this book opens, we see Small Pond, where Super Amoeba lives. Something flies out of the sky and crashes into the pond.
As with every time Squish reads this book though, he is interrupted, This time it’s to go to school. His friend Pod is drowsy walking down the street. He was up late working on his top-secret project. Squish asks is he can help, and Pod says yes–give him Squish’s Twinkie.
At school the teacher is showing them about acids and bases. The kids are bored until he pours vinegar into baking soda and they all wake up.
The next day on the way to school, sneaky Squish takes a bite out of his Twinkie. So that when he offers it to Pod, Pod refuses.
But when Squish gets to school, his stomach starts to gurgle and he turns green (literally).
Back in Small Pond, the citizens are all getting sick too. First it was the dog who drank from the pond, but soon everyone is getting sick. Very sick.
The next morning, Squish feels better. But then he has a Twinkie and washes it down with some OJ and then he throws up in the car. So they go to see Doctor Gastrotrich (a real microscopic creature). The arrows note that it is covered with Cilia which are hairlike and that the gastrotrich’s nickname is “Hairy Back.”
The Doctor sees nothing wrong with Squish, so he’s going to do some tests. Which leads Squish to do the one thing that no one should ever do–self diagnose! After putting in his symptoms, the computer tells him he has parasitic black death amoebitis. Which is fatal.
He tells everyone that he is dying and prepares his will.
Could that be it, or could the problem be something much simpler.
I looked up to see if the “problem” that Squish has could really be a scientifically interesting problem, but I don’t think it is–although it is probably gross.
The end pages of the book include fun science with Pod and tell you to try the baking soda and vinegar trick with milk and orange juice too, to see what happens.
I thought that this was the latest Squish, but I see that book 8 came out in the Fall. Hooray! More Squish.