World music choir to perform June 11

Village Harmony Alumni Ensemble, a world music choir led by Larry Gordon and guest leader Helle Thun from Denmark, presents a concert in Hillsboro Center at the Congregational Church on June 11 at 7:30 p.m.

The Alumni Ensemble includes 18 college-aged Village Harmony veterans, many who have sung and traveled with Village Harmony for many years. The program features Nordic folk music and kulning, American shape-note songs and contemporary compositions, South African songs and dances, and the French chanson “Au Travail Suis” and part of the Mass based on it by Renaissance composer Johannes Ockeghem.

Helle Thun from Copenhagen, Denmark, is one of the few classically trained singers who also works extensively with folk and traditional music and vocal improvisation. She trained both in voice and in acting and also studied musicology at University of Copenhagen. She has a strong background in Swedish and other Nordic folk styles, and is especially renowned as a performer and teacher of kulning. Kulning has long been used as a means to communicate with the voice over long distances. It is an archaic style of singing/calling, still used in traditional Swedish folk music. Traditionally it was employed outdoors, to call animals or to communicate with other people over long distances. The singing is intense, concentrated and piercing.

Johannes Ockeghem (1410-1497) was the most famous composer of the Franco-Flemish School in the last half of the 15th century, and is often considered the most influential composer between Dufay and Josquin des Prez. His mass Au Travail Suis is based on his own highly lyrical chanson using that text, and the melodic motifs from the chanson pervade all the four vocal parts of the mass. Being a renowned bass singer himself, his use of wide-ranging and rhythmically active bass lines sets him apart from many of the other composers in the Netherlandish Schools.

Harmony is an umbrella organization based in Vermont dedicated to the study and performance of singing traditions from around the world. Each summer they sponsor ten ensembles like this one, both in New England and numerous foreign countries. Each group shares common traits: a powerful, natural, unrestrained, vocal sound; a remarkable variety of vocal styles and timbres, as appropriate to the many varieties of ethnic and traditional music; and the visible, vibrant community among the singers and audience as they share in a joyous celebration of music.

Suggested admission at the door is $10, $5 for students and seniors. For more information, call 464-3015.

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