The final installment of Arts & Lectures’ Up Close & Musical Series showcased the unique and innovative vocal project Roomful of Teeth. A group of talented individuals, the eight core performers are classically trained vocalists and instrumentalists who utilize timeless techniques — including opera, mouth music, and throat singing — to deliver a sound unlike anything else in the current music scene. The program included “Partita for 8 Voices,” written by Roomful’s own Caroline Shaw, containing spoken word repetition, calculated gasps, and fractured breaths to create a refrain both ominous and hauntingly beautiful. From simple canons in which the artists utter phrases such as “up and around” to the repetition of obscure throat sounds, “Partita” is a chilling listening experience.
Other noteworthy pieces included Rinde Eckert’s “Cesca’s View,” showcasing soprano Estelí Gomez’s yodeling skills (a technique truly unexploited and worthy of listening) and Brad Wells’s “Otherwise,” featuring bass-baritone Dashon Burton’s insane vocal range. What makes Roomful so audibly interesting is that these performers turn themselves into instruments, and at times it seems impossible that their respective sounds are in fact vocalizations. Hahn Hall was the perfect venue, fostering an up-close experience that was unforgettable and leaving the audience wanting more.