Mongolian throat singers a highlight in new song fest

Mongolian throat singers a highlight in new song fest
Mongolian throat singers Khusugtun can sing two notes at one time.

SINGAPORE - With sacred music from Estonia, throat singers from Mongolia who can belt out two notes at one time and Singapore's hottest a cappella groups, the Esplanade's new festival in December celebrates the power and range of the human voice.

Voices - A Festival Of Song runs from Dec 13 to 15, featuring six ticketed concerts and workshops as well as several free performances of folk songs and popular melodies.

Viewers are also invited to perform their favourites en masse at a singalong session at the Outdoor Theatre on Dec 15, with lyrics of radio hits projected karaoke-style on screens.

Tickets to concerts and workshops go on sale this Thursday.

Performers have been selected for "quality and uniqueness", says Esplanade programming officer Christel Hon. "This is something that no one in Singapore is doing. Yes, there are existing festivals for commonly known genres such as choirs and a cappella singing, but Voices goes beyond, featuring traditional ensemble singing, folk, a cappella, show choirs and more."

Among the biggest names featured is the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, which has an impressive 32-year history of performing with noted conductors such as Neeme Jarvi and Claudio Abbado. The choir has performed at the prestigious British musical showcase, the BBC Proms and won a 2006 Grammy Award for a recording of Estonian composer Arvo Part's music in the album Da Pacem, brought out by Harmonia Mundi.

Founder Tonu Kaljuste leads the choir on Dec 13 in a repertoire of sacred and secular music, including melodies from Part and fellow Estonian Veljo Tormis. Kaljuste leads a workshop on Western choral singing on Dec 12.

For many viewers, the biggest attraction might be recitals of the throat-singing tradition of Mongolia at the Esplanade Recital Studio on Dec 14 and 15. Five-member ensemble Khusugtun display the art of khoomii, which allows a vocalist to sing at least two distinct musical notes at the same time.

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