Union St & 8th St
New Bedford, MA 02740
A Village Harmony Teen World Music Ensemble returns to New Bedford on Friday, July 6, at 7:30 pm in the First Unitarian Church sanctuary on Union Street. Twenty-five brilliant, teen singers from nine states plus France will deliver an eclectic mix of Appalachian and original shape-note songs, traditional Shaker hymns, songs from Zimbabwe, South Africa, Bulgaria, and the Occitan region of southern France, songs of social struggle, and a stunning work by Estonian composer Urmas Sisask. Ensemble members will accompany some songs on folk instruments. This high-energy concert will get listeners folk music juices flowing before the New Bedford Folk Festival which begins the next day. Members of the New Bedford Harbor Sea Chantey Chorus and the First Unitarian Church will host the ensemble during their visit. Suggested admission at the door is $5-$15.
Each Village Harmony ensemble develops its own unique sound with a different, international team of leaders. All share common traits: a powerful, natural, unrestrained, vocal sound; a remarkable variety of vocal styles and timbres appropriate to the ethnic and traditional music; and a visible, vibrant community among the singers and audience as they share in a joyful celebration of music. Village Harmony, a non-profit, umbrella organization based in Vermont, promotes the study and performance of ethnic singing traditions from around the world. For more than twenty years, they have organized teen ensembles each summer in New England and ensembles for mixed-age and adult singers in numerous foreign countries. For information visit www.villageharmony.org
This group will be led by Larry Gordon, Brendan Taaffe, and Heidi Wilson. Before the singers begin their tour, special guest, Bulgarian singer Tatiana Sarbinska, will teach songs featuring the powerful and arresting, hard-edged Balkan vocal style, lively, irregular rhythms, and dissonant harmonies.
Brendan Taaffe’s original compositions blend American hymnody with a broad range of influences. “Like Stars Our Bones Shall Fly” joins Isaac Watts’ beloved text, ‘Now shall my inward joys arise.’ with a traditional Bulgarian melody in 7/8 meter. Taafe bases other songs on traditional melodies from Kentucky. He will also lead songs from his work with singers around the world, including a medley of Zimbabwean church choruses and the Occitan French song “La Cambra es Alendada”.
Taaffe, also a visual artist, will help the group create a moving panorama, a “crankie”, illustrating a song, in a revival of the 19th Century entertainment best exemplified by the New Bedford Whaling Museum’s “Voyage Around the World” soon to be exhibited in full for the first time in nearly fifty years.
Heidi Wilson, a singer-songwriter from central Vermont, has taught with Village Harmony since 2012. She will bring a diverse set of songs from the United States including social justice songs of struggle and cultural change, an 1830’s Shaker hymn, sea shanties, and her own originals. Wilson will also bring a pair of traditional Swedish songs celebrating the sunshine and blossoms of summer.
Larry Gordon, founder and co-director of Village Harmony, brings broad experience in New England and ethnic, vocal ensemble traditions and folk dance. Through extensive travel, he developed an international network of relationships with people who conserve, perform, and teach these traditions. This network enables Village Harmony to organize opportunities for groups such as these teens and for the audiences they will entertain.