Roomful of Teeth
ROOMFUL OF TEETH
Founded in 2009 by Brad Wells, Roomful of Teeth is a vocal project dedicated to mining the expressive potential of the human voice. Through study with masters from non-classical traditions the world over, the eight voice ensemble continually expands its vocabulary of singing techniques and, through an on-going commissioning project, invites today’s brightest composers to create a new repertoire without borders.
The ensemble gathers annually at Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MoCA), where they’ve studied Tuvan throat singing, yodeling, belting, Inuit throat singing, Korean P’ansori, Georgian singing, Sardinian cantu a tenore, Hindustani music and Persian classical singing with some of the world’s top performers and teachers of the styles. Commissioned composers include Rinde Eckert, Judd Greenstein, Caleb Burhans, Merrill Garbus (of tUnE- yArDs), William Brittelle, Sarah Kirkland Snider, Missy Mazzoli, Sam Amidon and Julia Wolfe.
Roomful of Teeth has performed at Merkin Hall, (le) Poisson Rouge, Town Hall (Seattle) and Carlsbad Music Festival (California), among others. The group regularly leads vocal technique workshops, master classes, improv-based workshops and concerts at colleges, elementary schools, high schools and community centers across the country. In August 2014, Roomful of Teeth was spotlighted at the International Federation for Choral Music symposium in Seoul, Korea (one of only three American vocal ensembles invited).
The project’s debut album, Roomful of Teeth, was released in 2012. The New York Times called it “sensually stunning.” Included on many Best of 2012 lists, topping the classical charts on iTunes and Amazon, even breaking into the top 10 on the Billboard charts, the album was deemed “fiercely beautiful and bravely, utterly exposed” (NPR); Pitchfork predicted “it will send an unnameable thrill down your spine”; and Textura declared, “The group re-writes the vocal rulebook.”
The album was nominated in three categories for the 2014 56th Annual GRAMMY Awards, including Best Engineer for Classical Album, Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance, and Best Contemporary Classical Composition for Caroline Shaw’s Partita for 8 Voices. The album subsequently received a GRAMMY for Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance. In April 2013 ensemble member Caroline Shaw received the Pulitzer Prize in Music for Partita, the four movements of which appear on the group’s debut album. An iTunes exclusive EP of Partita was subsequently released and ranked no. 1 on iTunes Classical charts.