Britain's VOCES8 is, as promised, a vocal octet, composed of adults of mixed gender. The group's singing has been praised by Gramophone as "impeccable in its quality of tone and balance." For its smooth harmonies VOCES8 has been compared to the King's Singers, but its repertory generally skews toward mainstream, choral-vocal repertory rather than pop. VOCES8 was formed in 2005 and devised its name on the spur of the moment en route to a competition in Italy. The singers took on professional status in 2007. Of the eight original members, two remain. VOCES8 has an unusually vigorous touring schedule that has included top English venues such the Royal Albert Hall and Royal Festival Hall as well as the Shanghai Concert Hall, the Mariinsky Theatre Concert Hall, and a large number of American institutions. VOCES8 made three separate American tours (as well as one of Mexico and one of Singapore) during the 2017-2018 season alone. It has collaborated in performance with Baroque- and Renaissance-oriented performers such as violinist Rachel Podger and the ensembles Florilegium and L'Arpeggiata. After releasing its debut album, Evensong, on its own label in 2008, VOCES8 was signed to Signum Classics and released Aces High, a collection of pop arrangements including, among other songs, Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal." VOCES8 has also recorded for Decca, issuing one or two albums yearly through much of the 2010s. Its 2016 album Winter was a seasonal but only intermittently a holiday album, featuring music from Baltic minimalist composers as well as other contemporary works. VOCES8 has commissioned new works on several occasions; a new work by Jonathan Dove was scheduled to be premiered by the group in 2019. VOCES8 has a full schedule of educational appearances at British schools, and original member Paul Smith has issued a textbook, The VOCES8 Method. ~ James Manheim
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Classical - Released January 1, 2015 | Decca Music Group Ltd.
Moving from the Signum label to the major Decca, the British choir Voces8, indeed an octet, breaks into new territory with its debut release for the Lux label. The album, with its vaguely positive theme and its mix of Renaissance, contemporary British and American, and pop selections, is aimed squarely at Britain's substantial crossover market. But it departs from earlier easy-on-the-ears collections in several ways, and it's worth the time of anyone who likes virtuoso choral singing. Voces8 not only takes on the difficult octet vocal blend, they spice things up by using a pair of countertenors on the alto parts (this Lux shares with the group's earlier recordings). The shimmering effects that result are quite impressively controlled and even more significantly beautifully engineered in a pair of locations. Choirs have sung arrangements of the likes of Massive Attack and Ben Folds before, but it's not often that choral singing of this quality has been applied to them. The whole thing is so beautiful that the pieces of music do run the risk of seeming to run together, and an hour of pleasant aural surroundings may be what's on the mind of many buyers. But this release offers something a step above the basics.
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Voces8 in the magazine