VoXX offers musical ‘History’ tour

Jan 03, 2019
Photo by: Jim Dugan Last summer, VoXX took advantage of the Beech Nut acoustics atop Beech Hill in Rockport.

The a cappella vocal ensemble VoXX: Voice of Twenty will welcome the new year with four performances of its annual January concert series, this year titled “A History of Sacred Choral Music.” The program focuses on western European music drawn primarily from the Roman Catholic and Anglican traditions.

Midcoast concerts will be presented Saturday, Jan. 12, at 7 p.m. in Union Hall, 24 Central St., Rockport; and Saturday, Jan. 19, at 7 p.m. at United Farmer’s Market of Maine, 18 Spring St., Belfast. Farther afield, VoXX will perform Sunday, Jan. 13, at 2 p.m. at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 234 French St., Bangor; and Sunday, Jan. 20, at 2 p.m. at Phippsburg Congregational Church. PHIPPSBURG CONCERT POSTPONED TO FEB. 10.

There will be pre-concert talks, starting a half hour before performance time, at all locations except Bangor. Admission is $15 (cash or check), and tickets available at the door at all venues.

The group's music director, Matthew Smith, said that the idea for this program came from interactions with dedicated VoXX audience members.

“At every concert, I have been struck by their curiosity and intellect; their interest in the music we sing fueled my interest to add an educational component to our program,” he said.

Helping educate audiences is as much a responsibility for VoXX as it is a fun musical journey for all to take together, he added. Maine’s rural culture is a rich one, but it means fewer professional choral groups are able to visit.

“VoXX is the only local ensemble I know of that sings unaccompanied choral music that dates from as far back as the 11th century right up to modern times and contemporary works,” Smith said. “The goal of this particular program is to help lift the veil on what can be seen as complicated and serious music.”

For nearly 20 years, VoXX has sung up and down the Maine coast, and now performs two scheduled concert sets per year, in January and in mid-summer. VoXX likes the challenges of unusual vocal music, yet more familiar works by such renowned composers as Britten, Byrd, Dufay, Holst, Josquin, Lauridsen, Vaughan Williams and Whitacre (not to mention Anonymous) also are central to the repertoire. VoXX mainly performs a cappella, but appropriate instrumentation (recorders, percussion, strings) is occasionally added.

VoXX is a collectively run, all-volunteer organization. Membership is by audition, and singers come from all walks of life. Members who so choose can share in the responsibility of bringing music selections to the group and may take turns teaching and leading. The group has built a strong following and is well known for its efforts to inform audiences through extensive program notes.

VoXX, which is available to perform by invitation, is currently seeking new members. For more information, visit voiceoftwenty.com or email info@voiceoftwenty.com.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.

The VoXX men perform an a cappella work in the historic Beech Nut stone hut atop Beech Hill in Rockport. (Photo by: Jim Dugan)
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