Vancouver Symphony Pops

New York Voices

Dates 21 and 22 April 2006, 8pm Venue Orpheum Theatre Reviewer Ed Farolan

New York Voices

I'd like to avoid words like "fabulous, fantastic, marvelous" -- words I've used many times in past reviews. Maybe "unique and sublime," perhaps "eclectic" would be the more appropriate words for New York Voices after listening to the ensemble's premiere performance on 21 April.

Sometimes a capella, but mostly with the backing of the VSO, they brought the Vancouver audience, mostly baby boomers or older, down memory lane with songs from the Beatles, The Mamas and The Papas, Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, and other pop singers of the sixties and seventies. Their style and concept go back to the way songs were sung in the good ol' days with groups like the Manhattan Transfer, The Four Freshmen, the Supremes and Brazil 66. Their style is rooted in jazz, R & B, and Brazilian.

Their repertoire in last Friday's performance included original arrangements from such haunting Beatles' hits as "Because" and "I'll love you more" (which was sung as an encore a capella); an interesting "California Monday" (an amalgamation of "California Dreaming" and "Monday, Monday" from The Mamas and The Papas); the funny interpretation of Paul Simon's "Me and Julio Down by the School Yard" and the unforgettable "Mother and Child Reunion".

I would have wanted to hear other songs from their Brazilian album Paquito d'Rivera or other Beatle hits like "Hey Jude,""Yesterday," and "Yellow Submarine," but what can you do in an hour and a half concert?

This Grammy Award-winning vocal ensemble was formed by Darmon Meader, Peter Eldridge, Kim Nazarian, Caprice Fox, and Sara Krieger in 1987. Only Meader, Eldridge and Nazarian remain from the founding group; the fourth member, Lauren Kinhan, joined in 1995.

Conductor Jeff Tyzik, who also played the trumpet, reminded me of band leaders of old like Tommy Dorsey and Glen Miller who not only conducted but also played brass instruments. In fact, other than being vocalists, Meader also did sax as did the piano-playing Eldridge. It would have been better, though, if the piano had been placed in front instead of the back because when Eldridge played and sang, he was hidden from the audience and we couldn't see him.

I'd say this was a really neat show. The full-house Vancouver audience, young and old, loved the show and gave the group an enthusiastic standing ovation. The group has toured and continues touring all over North and South America, Europe, and Asia. I hope they come back to visit us again and shower us with their brand of entertainment.

© 2006 Ed Farolan