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VoXX presents winter concert series

Jan 10, 2020
VoXX: Voice of Twenty

Belfast/Rockland — The a cappella vocal ensemble VoXX: Voice of Twenty will present its annual winter concert series in four Maine venues (two local) in January and February. The group’s 2020 program is titled “Exiles and Outcasts” and features works from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. Pieces are linked thematically, chosen because the composer perhaps lived in literal exile, or was an outcast by virtue of religion, race, gender or sexuality; or because exile or alienation is the subject of the work.

The concerts feature works by Hildegard von Bingen, a 12th-century abbess and mystic; Carlo Gesualdo, whose turbulent life and idiosyncratic harmonies make him the archetype of this theme; Claudio Monteverdi, whose unorthodox use of harmony and modes led to public condemnation; Salamone Rossi, a Jewish composer who lived and worked in Italy in the 17th and 18th centuries; Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, whose homosexuality and mental health challenges place him as an outsider; and Paul Hindemith, whose music was labeled “degenerate” by the Nazis. Other works include a setting of the spiritual “My Lord, What a Mornin’” by African-American composer Henry Burleigh; works by Victoria, Dowland, Rusca, Distler and Rachmaninoff; and a setting of “Amazing Grace” that VoXX will ask the audience to join in singing.

VoXX will present two local performances of "Exiles and Outcasts" — Friday, Jan. 17, at 7 p.m. at the United Farmers Market, 18 Spring St., Belfast, with a pre-concert talk at 6:30 p.m.; and Friday, Jan. 31, at 7 p.m. at the Farnsworth Art Museum, 16 Museum St., Rockland, with a pre-concert talk at 6:30 p.m. Admission is $15, tickets are available at the door. For those younger than 18 and college students, admission is free.

Music Director Matt Smith said, "We wanted to tell some interesting and tragic stories about composers across the past 400 years. More importantly, we wanted to leverage the power of music to reflect on the feelings of exile that many people still face around the world."

VoXX (formerly known as Ave Maris Stella) was formed at the beginning of this century as a group of early-music aficionados who met and sang in each other’s living rooms. Since then the group has grown in skill and ambition, retaining its early music focus but expanding its repertoire to encompass other eras up to and including the contemporary. VoXX has sung up and down the Maine coast, and generally performs two scheduled concert sets per year, in January and mid-summer. VoXX likes the challenges of unusual vocal music, yet more familiar works by such renowned composers as Britten, Byrd, Dufay, Holst, Josquin, Lauridsen, Victoria, and Vaughan Williams (not to mention Anonymous) are also central to the repertoire. VoXX mainly performs a cappella, but appropriate instrumentation (recorders, percussion, strings) is occasionally added.

VoXX is unusual in that it is a collectively run, all-volunteer organization. Membership is by audition, and singers come from all walks of life: teachers and students, professionals and retirees. Members can share in the responsibility of bringing music selections to the group and may take turns teaching and leading. The group has built a strong following and is well known for its efforts to inform audiences through extensive program notes.

VoXX is available to perform by invitation. Visit or call 518-0609 for more information and specifics on its other winter shows in Brunswick and Bangor.


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