Sotto Voce Vocal Collective (2018): Jessie Downs, Gabrielle Carr, Helen Lowry, Blake Hurlburt, William Zino, Brien Henderson (photo credit Saffi Rigberg)

Sotto Voce Vocal Collective is a performing vocal ensemble that aims to promote awareness of both the capabilities of the human voice and the diversity of composers living today. Through regular rehearsal and performance, we strive to bring excellence to the presentation of little-heard contemporary vocal music.

The ensemble has been recognized by organizations such as Opera America (for our “Living Voices” tour in 2018), and received mentorship from the foremost contemporary vocal ensemble today – the U.K.’s EXAUDI – through workshops with soprano Juliet Fraser and programming guidance from director-composer James Weeks. The ensemble has presented shows in collaboration with several other new music ensembles, including The Syndicate for the New Arts and Null Point. In 2020-21 they branched into the world of opera production with the premiere of Jessie Downs’s The Second Sight.

The members of the group come from a variety of stylistic backgrounds and bring passion about “living music” to their interpretations. The group’s aesthetic interest is in works that are both inspired by traditional approaches to the voice and present the voice in experimental formal contexts. Our core repertoire celebrates the organic, delicate, and ineffable nature of the voice, but the specific themes and styles of our programs change from season to season.

The group also aims to perform works primarily by under-represented living composers. In particular, we can proudly say that at least 50% of the music on any given program is by womxn composers. Additionally, programs are structured in unique formats that aim to highlight the beauty of and draw new audiences to often under-appreciated works. Past concert formats include an interactive opera, a minimalistic coffee house jam, and a poetic monologue-driven narrative concert. Sotto Voce also offers educational workshops that seek to familiarize students with the instrument with which we are all born.

Since their founding in Summer 2016, the group has premiered 16 new works, including 2 recent commissions written specifically for our voices. Featured composers have included Girilal Baars, Carola Bauckholt, Eve Beglarian, Antoine Beuger, Chaya Czernowin, Jessie Downs (Artistic Director, soprano), Julius Eastman, Nomi Epstein, Reiko Füting, Ethan Hayden (former baritone), Eva Maria Houben, Alex Huddleston (operations director), Brien Henderson (former bass), Porter James, György Ligeti, Sylvia Lim, Alvin Lucier, Osnat Netzer, Pauline Oliveros, Kala Pierson, Enno Poppe, Lauren Redhead, Kaija Saariaho, Jamie Leigh Sampson, Marianne Schuppe, and James Weeks.