Part of: Fast Forward
Lead support for the 125 Commissions Project is provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Additional funding is provided by members of Carnegie Hall's Composer Club.
Roomful of Teeth is a Grammy-winning vocal project dedicated to reimagining the expressive potential of the human voice. Through study with masters from vocal traditions the world over, the eight-voice ensemble continually expands its vocabulary of singing techniques and, through an ongoing commissioning process, forges a new repertoire without borders.
Founded in 2009 by Brad Wells, Roomful of Teeth gathers annually at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) in North Adams, Massachusetts, where the members have studied with some of the world’s top performers and teachers in Tuvan throat singing, yodeling, Broadway belting, Inuit throat singing, Korean pansori, Georgian singing, Sardinian cantu a tenore, Hindustani music, Persian classical singing, and death metal singing. Commissioned composers include Rinde Eckert, Fred Hersch, Merrill Garbus (of tUnE-yArDs), William Brittelle, Toby Twining, Missy Mazzoli, Julia Wolfe, Ted Hearne, and Ambrose Akinmusire, among many others.
With pianist-composer Tigran Hamasyan, potent jazz improvisation fuses with the rich folkloric music of his native Armenia. Tigran is one of the most remarkable and distinctive jazz-meets-rock pianists of his generation. His fresh sound is marked by an exploration of extended time signatures, charged dynamics, and an affinity to the grind of heavy metal.
Hamasyan has earned many accolades, including the top piano award at the 2013 Montreux Jazz Festival and the grand prize at the prestigious 2006 Thelonious Monk Jazz Piano Competition. He has recorded on various labels with his electro-acoustic powerhouse trio, as well as the Yerevan State Chamber Choir for his 2015’s project Luys i Luso.
Hamasyan’s latest album, The Ancient Observer, is his second solo album and his sophomore recording for Nonesuch. Conceptually, it is a poignant album that focuses on the art of observing with influences that range from classical Baroque dance to J Dilla–esque hip-hop grooves. “An Ancient Observer is presenting the observation of the world we live in now and the weight of our history we carry on our shoulders that is influencing us even if we don’t realize it,” he says. “This album is the observation of influences and experiences I’ve had.”