Roomful of Teeth wows packed Kresge

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Grammy-wining a capella group Roomful of Teeth perform in 
Kresge Auditorium as the first Judson and Joyce Green
Guest Artist of the 2014-2015 academic year. 
LEANN BURKE / THE DEPAUW

Cheers filled Kresge Auditorium on Saturday as Grammy-winning vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth continued their world tour with a stop at DePauw.

With their a cappella skills succeeding Pitch Perfect, they had the audience in good spirits.

They were founded in 2009 and the members include Cameron Beauchamp, Dashon Burton, Martha Cluver, Eric Dudley, Estelí Gomez, Thomas McCargar, Caroline Shaw, Virginia Warken, and Brad Wells.

Their first debut album was released in 2012, titled Roomful of Teeth. It garnered high praise.

The New York Times reviewed it as “sensually stunning,” and Pitchfork celebrated it, saying, “it will send an unnamable thrill down your spine.”

Such acclaim earned them Grammy nominations for “Best Engineer for Classical Album,” “Best Chamber music/Small Ensemble Performance,” and “Best Contemporary Classical Composition.”

They were awarded a Grammy for “Best Chamber music/Small Ensemble Performance” at the 56th Grammy Awards. Annually they gather at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art.

After an honorable introduction from the Dean of the School of Music, the eight performers confidently walked onto the stage. With each stride. they basked in the crowd's excitement and energy.

Their opening song, “Amid the Minotaurs,” was filled with Inuit throat singing, yodeling, and polyrhythms. This song was featured on their 2012 album, as well with a couple of others that were featured on the set.

“Justice for You” was subsequently performed with a yodeling solo. “Send Apollo” was more of an attention-grabber, as it was written by a single band member, Eric Dudley. Its staccato notes among a mostly legato rhythm mimicked sounds of drums.

Their music projects yodels, grunts, cries, ululations and eclectic techniques created from musical traditions.

Audience members were then told to sit back and relax. For their next act, the troupe combined two songs, “I Have Stopped the Clocks” and “Runaway,” to create a relaxed, slow beat with slight humming and precise lyrics.

Within the intertwinted rhythms, chords constantly tensed and resolved themselves. The band aimed to create a serene audience atmosphere with this song. The fluidity between "Clocks" and "Runway" successfully made listeners feel at ease.

“Otherwise” combined traditional western opera with a variety of global singing styles. Dashon Burton, the bass-baritone voice in the group, served as the soloist for the song. His booming, majestic voice blended well with the different voice manipulation techniques provided by the remainder of the octet.

The group has studied Tuvan throat singing, yodeling, belting, Inuit throat singing, Korean P’ansori, Georgian singing and Sardinian cantu a tenore styles.

After a 15-minute intermission, the ensemble returned with a Caroline Shaw composition, accompanied by a short film of hers. The 28-minute piece constituted the performance's entire second half, and was titled Ritornello, which translates to “a long solo with music.”

The film featured folding paper and images of bridges in New York City; it would later progress into drawings of houses and other scribbles and abstractions.

The first two-thirds of the piece seemed reflective, but its final few minutes, the song shifted into a revealing major key.

Caroline Shaw's piece Partita won the Pulitzer Prize for Composition, in which she is the youngest person to win an award in that category.

Roomful of Teeth received a standing ovation. As they departed the stage to greet their supporters, they encouraged the audience to follow them on social media platforms such as Twitter (@roomfulofteeth) and on Facebook to stay connected with their tours and new music.