Vox Virtual, An International Music Festival, Is About To Launch Vocal ensembles that normally would be touring the summer festival circuit have organized a virtual concert series. Groups hail from 10 different countries including the U.S., Zimbabwe and France.
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Vox Virtual, An International Music Festival, Is About To Launch

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Vox Virtual, An International Music Festival, Is About To Launch

Vox Virtual, An International Music Festival, Is About To Launch

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/903152244/903152245" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

NOEL KING, HOST:

A new international music festival called Vox Virtual launches this weekend. Singers come from all over the world, including Armenia.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NUBAR")

NAIRYAN VOCAL ENSEMBLE: (Singing in non-English language).

KING: ...Ireland...

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DULAMAN")

ANUNA: (Singing in non-English language).

KING: ...And Zimbabwe.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "INGOMA")

INSINGIZI: (Singing in non-English language).

KING: These groups all face the same dilemma - how do you reach audiences when you're stuck at home? Here's NPR's Elizabeth Blair.

ELIZABETH BLAIR, BYLINE: Vox Virtual is the brainchild of the Dutch Icelandic group Olga. Singer Philip Barkhudarov lives in Reykjavik. He says since almost all of these groups have had their in-person shows cancelled, it didn't take much to get their fellow artists onboard.

PHILIP BARKHUDAROV: Because we have a lot of friends in different groups and ensembles around the world. And then one thing kind of led to another, and we realized, wow, this can be a big thing.

BLAIR: One of the groups in the lineup is based in Kansas City. Isaac Cates & Ordained. Barkhudarov became a fan when he found a video of one of their performances that blew him away.

BARKHUDAROV: But it starts with the "Lacrimosa" from the Mozart Requiem.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

ISAAC CATES AND ORDAINED: (Singing in Latin).

BARKHUDAROV: And it's just this really cool reimagining of that piece and then connecting into a whole new piece of music.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

ISAAC CATES AND ORDAINED: (Singing) And stay with me always...

BLAIR: Barkhudarov shared the video, and pretty soon he and Isaac Cates connected. Turns out Cates already knew of Barkhudarov.

ISAAC CATES: Most choir babies - I call them (laughter); choir geeks, nerds, whatever you want to call us, which I'm proud to be one - tend to know of different ensembles that are doing things and are kind of always listening for great, inspiring, you know, new music and things of that nature.

BLAIR: Isaac Cates says he's honored to be one of the groups representing the U.S. in Vox Virtual.

CATES: To kind of promote unity and people coming together and from different countries - it's just a beautiful thing.

BLAIR: Most of the performances in the festival will be pretaped, including a collaboration between Olga and the French group Les Itinerantes, doing an a cappella version of Dolly Parton's "Light Of A Clear Blue Morning."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LIGHT OF A CLEAR BLUE MORNING")

LES ITINERANTES AND OLGA VOCAL ENSEMBLE: (Singing) I can see the light of a clear blue morning.

BLAIR: Barkhudarov says, if ever we needed some light, it's now.

BARKHUDAROV: I mean, we have to just deal with what the universe gives us. I can at least sing in my shower, and that makes me a little bit happy every day (laughter).

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LIGHT OF A CLEAR BLUE MORNING")

LES ITINERANTES AND OLGA VOCAL ENSEMBLE: (Singing) I can see the light - see the light...

BLAIR: The vocal ensembles will also be giving workshops on vocal technique and composing, the group from Zimbabwe will give a dance class, and the group from Armenia will show how they incorporate sign language into their performances.

Elizabeth Blair, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NUBAR")

NAIRYAN VOCAL ENSEMBLE: (Singing in non-English language).

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