Singing in harmony: Acapella group VOCES8 comes to Grass Valley | TheUnion.com

Singing in harmony: Acapella group VOCES8 comes to Grass Valley

The hills will be alive this Sunday night with the sound of VOCES8, an acappella singing group of eight members who will take the stage for InConcert Sierra.

The British ensemble are highly regarded the world over, and are paying their first visit to Nevada County to launch their new tour. The performance will take place at the Grass Valley Seventh-day Adventist Church on Osborn Hill Road.

So popular are they, InConcert Sierra Associate Director Brett Bentley said, "We have people coming from south of Bakersfield, throughout the Bay Area, from Nevada and around Sacramento, just to hear VOCES8 since we are one of their few west coast concerts."

Crossing the pond

Having never visited the region, VOCES8 tenor Sam Dressel said the group is looking forward to arriving in the Gold Country.

"We are excited to visit. It's always nice to [visit] somewhere new, but especially when it's an area with such a lot of history, culture and beautiful nature. We will have time to go out and explore, which is great!" said Dressel.

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Arranging for VOCES8 to come to Grass Valley presented a series of challenges for Ken Hardin, artistic director of InConcert Sierra, but the labor was purely of love.

"VOCES8 has been on my radar for some time as they are all the rage in the vocal music world," said Hardin. "[I'd] spoken with their artist reps to let them know of my interest, and I was delighted when we were offered the opportunity — back in early 2016 — to book them for the 2017-18 season. Much negotiating and arranging of schedules later, they'll soon be here!"

The event also finds InConcert temporarily deviating from their traditional third-Sunday schedule, and Hardin hopes the calendar adjustment won't confuse attendees.

"We were faced with scheduling issues," he said. "Then the word came from VOCES8 that they would only be able to offer us an Oct. 22 booking. At that point our choice became inevitable!"

The journey of VOCES8

VOCES8 began about 12 years ago as a group of friends who had varied backgrounds in singing, most of them having sung in youth choirs.

"They entered a competition in Italy just for fun and ended up winning it, and the career of Voces8 began!" said Dressel.

One original member — co-founder and Countertenor Barnaby Smith — remains while the departure of previous singers opened the door for Dressel and his colleagues. "Everybody else has joined along the way when previous members decide to move on," he said.

The group's career seems to be on an upward trajectory, with the ensemble traveling around the globe and entertaining audiences in such renowned venues as Royal Albert Hall in London, Cité de la Musique Paris, and Tokyo Opera City.

They have collaborated with an extensive lineup of celebrated artists, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and violinist/artistic director Hugo Ticciati among them.

VOCES8 are passionate about arts education and are the flagship ensemble of charitable group VCM Foundation, a choral music foundation that reaches over 40,000 students per year through education outreach programs.

The founder of VCM, Paul Smith — a former VOCES8 member — even wrote a book called The VOCES8 Method which is utilized by about 3500 schools throughout the UK.

Dressel feels fortunate for his group's success. When asked what he considers the high point of their career he jubilantly said, "Happily, there are many to choose from! My first ever trip to the States in 2013 was a highlight; I had never been before.

"And our newest member, Eleonore Cockerham, is now in the same position! This is her first visit to the USA and this will be her first American concert."

What can audiences expect from the performance? "Stunning beauty," said Hardin, "and an uplifting musical experience from a group that not only performs to the highest degree of technical perfection, but also brings a quality of 'heart' or emotion to their performance."

He continued, "People have always been fascinated by the possibilities of the voice as the basis for a musical ensemble, and all the variety that is possible in this arrangement.

"Composers and performers alike continue to find new ways to use the singing voice to express the myriad emotions we encounter when facing the world from day to day.

"Any new group like VOCES8 that finds its own voice and style to accomplish this, and does it so well, is not only relevant to acappella performance, but is essential to the ongoing evolution of the genre."

Jennifer Nobles is a freelance writer for The Union and can be contacted at jenkrisnobles@gmail.com.

KNOW & GO

WHAT: InConcert Sierra presents VOCES8

WHEN: 2 p.m. Sunday.

WHERE: Grass Valley Seventh-day Adventist Church, 12889 Osborne Hill Rd., Grass Valley.

TICKETS: $35 General Admission/Youth 5-17 free with adult (call 530-273-3990 to reserve youth tickets)

Advance tickets available online at http://www.inconcertsierra.org. Online purchases incur $4 fee.

INFO: http://www.inconcertsierra.org