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The Grammy Award-winning New York Voices, called “the most exciting vocal ensemble in current jazz” by The Boston Herald, will perform in concert 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 1, at the Williams Center for the Arts.

Tickets cost $4 with Lafayette ID and $18 for the public. They may be purchased by calling the box office at 610-330-5009.

New York Voices will give a free workshop on a cappella singing 4 p.m. that day at the Williams Center.

“To collect such quality voices in one group is rare enough, yet the real trick of New York Voices is how well they mesh,” notes the Herald. “New York Voices pull out a project so inspired it makes one wonder why no one has thought of doing jazz vocal renditions of Simon’s most memorable tunes before,” writes Billboard Magazine of the group’s acclaimed recording Sing, Sing, Sing.

The vocal ensemble’s interests are rooted in jazz, but often Brazilian, R&B, classical, and pop influences are included with equal creativity and authenticity. From jazzy improvisations to swing, from show tunes to Afro-Brazilian rhythms, New York Voices commands a wealth of idioms and vocal styles, placing the group at the forefront of today’s contemporary a cappella scene. Often compared to Manhattan Transfer and Lambert Hendricks and Ross, New York Voices has found its own groove — dynamic ensemble singing, close-harmony coloration, and an unusually wide array of composers from whom it draws inspiration: Ellington to Jobim, Paul Simon to Ella Fitzgerald, the Beatles to Basie and beyond.

The group was formed in 1987 by former Ithaca College students Darmon Meader, Peter Eldridge, Kim Nazarian, Caprice Fox, and Sara Krieger. They were part of an invitational alumni group formed to tour the European jazz festivals in the summer of 1986. In 1989, they signed their first record deal and released a self-titled debut album. The group received rave notices and quickly received domestic and international recognition in the jazz world. From 1989-94, New York Voices released four CDs and brought on Lauren Kinhan after Krieger stepped down in 1992. In early 1994, Caprice Fox left the group, fixing New Voices as a quartet. The group currently performs with three instrumentalists as well: pianist Andy Ezrin, bassist Paul Nowinski, and drummer Marcello Pellitteri.

Besides its own CDs, New York Voices has made many guest appearances on recordings and live performances that have earned critical acclaim and demand in a variety of musical settings. These include the Grammy Award-winning collaboration, Count Basie Orchestra with New York Voices, Live at Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild, the contemporary classic The Ancient Tower, Heirs to Jobim, Don Sebesky’s I Remember Bill, Jim Hall’s By Arrangement, A Love Affair — the Music of Ivan Lins, Irving Berlin’s Louisiana Purchase, and many more. New York Voices has performed with a number of influential jazz artists, including Ray Brown, Bobby McFerrin, Nancy Wilson, George Benson, and others.

In 1997, NYV recorded New York Voices Sing the Songs of Paul Simon, exploring and using a variety of styles to express new turns on this singer-songwriter’s popular songbook. In 2001, the group released Sing, Sing, Sing, offering its own version of the Big Band songbook. As reviewed by Don Heckman of The Los Angeles Times, “the title track quickly lays down what to expect from the balance of the program: complex, interwoven vocal lines, interactive improvising and brisk ensemble accompaniment. And revivalist swing fans — both players and listeners — would do well to check out the Voices’ capacity to bring a contemporary quality to classic material without sacrificing the essence of either.”

New York Voices has appeared on the stages of Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, The Kennedy Center, The Blue Note (Japan and New York), Austria Opera House, and Zurich Opera House, among others around the world. The group has performed at many jazz festivals, including the North Sea Jazz Festival in Holland, the Montreal Jazz Festival, and the New Orleans Jazz and Blues Heritage Festival.

Along with its extensive concert performances and recording dates, New York Voices works in the field of education, giving workshops and clinics to high school and college music students. Individually, the four members are involved in a variety of projects, including solo performances and recordings, teaching, writing, and arranging.

The nationally recognized Performance Series attracts more than 10,000 people each season. It has been cited for performing excellence by National Endowment for the Arts, National Dance Project, Chamber Music America, Lila Wallace Reader’s Digest Fund, Pennsylvania Arts and Humanities Councils, and Association of Performing Arts Presenters.

The 2002-03 Performance Series at Lafayette is supported in part by gifts from Friends of the Williams Center for the Arts; by the F.M. Kirby Foundation; by provisions of the Alan and Wendy Pesky Artist-in-Residence Program, the James Bradley Fund, and the Ed Brunswick Jazz Fund; and by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, Pennsylvania Performing Arts on Tour, and New England Foundation for the Arts.

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