Roomful of Teeth performs at Butler


The members of Roomful of Teeth pose for a photo. Photo courtesy of Bonica Ayala/Bonica Ayala Photograpy.

This past weekend, Butler University hosted Roomful of Teeth as the choral singing group performed and visited with students to talk about composition and singing techniques.

Roomful of Teeth is a Grammy award-winning vocal band dedicated to reimagining the expressive potential of the human voice. Consisting of eight members, the group was started by Brad Wells in 2009.

The unique band attended Convocation last Thursday,  a class with composition students that evening and a Chorale rehearsal on Friday, along with their concert at the Schrott Center for the Arts that evening and a master class on Saturday morning.

“The intention of Roomful of Teeth is to expand the voice in different healthy ways,” Wells said. “What we study is not association, but inspiration toward making our own works.”

The group is known for traveling around the world to study techniques of singing with some of the world’s top performers. Some of these techniques include: Tuvan throat singing, yodeling, Broadway belting, Inuit throat singing, Korean p’ansori, Georgian singing, Sardinian cantu a tenore, Hindustani music, Persian classical singing and death metal singing.

Eric Stark, the director of choral activities and professor of music at Butler, collaborated with Roomful of Teeth to find the perfect date for the band to visit Butler. This way they could be present for not only a concert, but could be involved with students during classes as well.

Stark said he believes the experience of different vocal techniques will assist the students in their future expeditions.

“Our students are preparing for the future and are preparing for their careers and lifetimes as artists,” Stark said. “None can really say what challenges they will face.”

The unique experience helps students learn aspects of different singing techniques with the inspiration of cultures from around the world.

As such, Stark said they are “focused on developing choral art for the future…[by] experiencing vocalism traditions that are considered to be outside the canon of Western art and music”.

On Friday, Chorale students had the opportunity to have class with the vocal band, rehearsing a piece named “Quizassa” which they performanced with the group that evening at their concert.

Rachel Spodek, a junior and member of the Butler Chorale, said she enjoyed her first-hand experience with Roomful of Teeth.

“I think the biggest thing I got from the experience was the joy of working with non-traditional styles of singing and being able to appreciate the styles of other cultures,” Spodek said. “Roomful of Teeth is so passionate about all the styles they perform and the cultures that they get to work with. They did a great job of communicating their enthusiasm with us.”


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