Singing groups

Don't let those pipes go rusty-belt out with a small group or a giant chorus.

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Date: December 2, 2009 6:24:53 PM EST
To: inyc@timeoutny.com
Subject: Singin’

Okay, this is a bit dorky, I know, but I miss singing in chorus and a cappella in high school and college. I figure since you can play stupid sports like kickball in NYC, there must be a singing group I could join. Is there?

Ten and Change
Ten years old and still going strong, this male contemporary a cappella crew is a “drinking group that sings, or a singing group that drinks.” That doesn’t make this fellowship of 10 to 16 young professionals unique—most of the dozens of a cappella groups found in New York City double as tippling clubs. But Ten and Change (info@tenandchange.com, tenandchange.com) sounds infinitely better than you and your drunk bros at karaoke, and the group is always looking for new members for performances big (like when they sang at Shea Stadium) or small (local drinking holes). “Candidacy is based on musical ability, blending, tone, solo ability,” says tenor Will Moller. It probably doesn’t hurt to be able to chug a little, too.
Recent playlist: “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours” by Stevie Wonder, “In the House of Stone and Light” by Martin Page

The Red States
Perhaps the best-known of NYC’s coed groups, the Red States (redacappella.com) have been making a cappella “cool” since 2007. “You won’t see us wearing glittery vests, top hats or doing jazz hands,” says artistic director Brian Chambers. “I’m trying to keep us in the pocket of 'dirty’ pop and legit rock.” The 13-member group belongs to the Contemporary A Cappella League (casa.org/league), a great place to start if you’re looking for opportunities to sing. On Thursday 14, check them out at Don’t Tell Mama (43 W 46th St between Eighth and Ninth Aves; 212-757-0788; donttellmamanyc.com; 8:30pm, $15 and two-drink minimum).
Recent playlist: “Just Dance” by Lady Gaga, “Use Me” by Bill Withers

Treble
Dropping notes since 1996, Treble (treblenyc.com) is “one of the strongest postcollegiate female groups in the country,” according to member Nicole Martinez. The group holds auditions on a rolling basis throughout the year for women who are serious about singing and “serious about making it fun,” says Martinez, and they perform everything from ’60s pop to modern indie rock in pubs or even Lincoln Center. The dozen members are heading into a busy spring season that features a singing trip to Memphis, so schedule your tryout (e-mail treblenyc@gmail.com) soon.
Recent playlist: “I Want You Back” by the Jackson 5, “Bust Your Windows” by Jazmine Sullivan

New York City Gay Men’s Chorus
You don’t have to be gay to join the city’s most energetic and massive male choral group (nycgmc.org), which has more than 200 members. You do have to be willing to “not only entertain, but inspire,” says member Matthew Levison—the group sings an eclectic mix of songs in support of causes like marriage equality, LGBT youth and the fight against AIDS. Auditions are held only twice annually, but you can catch the group in March, when it performs its second annual “over-the-top sing-along,” as Levison calls it, titled Big Gay Sing 2.
Recent playlist: “Single Ladies” by Beyonc

The Renaissance Street Singers
This open-air ensemble (streetsingers.org) is the only group of its kind in the world, according to director John Hetland, and it’s easy to believe him. It sings what Hetland calls “sacred music” from the 15th and 16th centuries at outdoor locations throughout the city for free, and demands nothing in dues from its members. The group of more than 20 vocalists belts out on the streets every other Sunday, all year long. Singers can try out if they “read well and sing with little or no vibrato,” says Hetland, in auditions held by appointment every Thursday evening in Chelsea.

Voices of Gotham
There’s no better way to establish your own a cappella group than to meet, greet and pry away a few members of this versatile male barbershop chorus—the Voices of Gotham (347-688-0059 , membership@voicesofgotham.org) encourage it. “We actively foster the development of quartets, small performance groups and soloists who perform as featured members of the chorus, as well as booking gigs on their own throughout the city,” says bass Steve Skolnick. Try out during any of the biweekly rehearsals, or, come mid-February, order a VoG Singing Valentine as a gift (voicesofgotham.org, $75).
Recent playlist: “Loch Lomond” by R. Vaughan Williams, “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison

Melodia
The classical and contemporary crew Melodia (melodiawomenschoir.org) entertains at big-time venues like St. Peter’s Church, Merkin Concert Hall and Symphony Space, and has been known to perform works specifically commissioned for the 30- to 40-member chorus of women. Accomplished conductor Cynthia Powell leads the group of excellent sight readers, “all of whom have some choral experience,” according to Powell,and the group is currently accepting new members (e-mail womenschoir@mindspring.com).
Recent playlist: “Stabat Mater” by Pergolesi, world premiere of “Notes Upon the Breeze” by Chris Lastovicka

The Choral Society of Grace Church
“It’s rare to find a chorus of our size and aspiration that does not employ paid ringers to bolster the membership,” says music director John Maclay of the nearly 150-member repertory masterwork chorus (thechoralsociety.org). Members range from 20 to 80 years old, with a median age in the early-thirties, and “recent graduates of major collegiate choral programs who are relocating to New York are particularly welcome,” Maclay says, though the next auditions are held in August. The group performs in the Village’s Grace Church (802 Broadway at 10th St; 212-254-2000, gracechurchnyc.org), with its next concert in April.

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