The holidays are a busy time of year for everybody. That includes venues like the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville where staff begin preparing for a season full of holiday cheer months in advance. Although 2019 is the first time in a long time the WAC actually doesn't have any performances the week of Christmas, there's plenty of fare to put you in the festive spirit in the weeks leading up to it. Whether visiting the theater is part of your family's annual traditions, or you've found the perfect early Christmas present, these upcoming offerings are just the beginning of the arts center's celebration of the most wonderful time of the year.
WHEN — 7 p.m. Dec. 5
COST — $12-$30
INFO — theswingles.co.uk
WHERE — 495 W. Dickson St. in Fayetteville
PHONE — 443-5600
WEB — waltonartscenter.org
First up, on Dec. 5, the Grammy Award-winning a cappella sensation The Swingles return to Fayetteville from London with a show full of traditional carols and nostalgic classics in "Winter Tales." The Swingles were founded in 1963 and the group's current lineup of young musicians last performed at the WAC as the headlining act at the 2016 a cappella festival VoiceJam. Member of the seven-piece, Edward Randell, answered a few questions for What's Up! ahead of their visit.
Q. What drew you to a cappella as a performance style?
A. I joined a jazz a cappella group in my first week at university, and was immediately hooked. I think it was the idea of getting to sing instrumental bass lines that blew my young mind. We're not a cappella purists in The Swingles, but there's something so immediate and intensely human about music made with voices alone -- it still touches me in a way nothing else can.
Q. What does to it mean to you to be part of the unique legacy of The Swingles?
A. It's an incredible privilege -- it was quite literally my dream job before I joined. There's nothing more thrilling than getting together with a group of former Swingles and singing one of the classic Bach fugues together. At the core of our approach, we still have the distinctive "Swingle sound" that has been there since the 1960s. On the other hand, we feel that part of what made the group so exciting back then was their inventiveness and originality -- so it's important that we keep the group moving forward artistically.
Q. While you're in Fayetteville, you'll also be participating in a master class with a high school a cappella group and an education show through the venue's Learning and Engagement team. Can you speak to what experiences like this -- sharing in the craft with other singers, helping to educate -- mean for you as an artist?
A. We tend to learn just as much as the high schoolers from the experience! The U.S. has so many great vocal music programs, and I usually come away humbled and energized by the level of talent we see. There's often a magic moment in master classes where you see the students start to take creative ownership of what they're singing, going beyond just the notes and rhythms to find an emotional connection to the music.
Q. The Swingles are known for pushing the boundaries of vocal music. But so much of holiday music is something people already know and have certain expectations for. Is creating a holiday show that is fresh and unexpected a unique challenge?
A. I think the fact that the tunes are so familiar gives us some license to play around and twist them into surprising shapes. We will definitely be showing our bolder, more innovative side, but it's fair to say that we're not above some good old-fashioned corniness when it comes to holiday music.
Q. What can we expect from the performance?
A. It's a very varied show: We want to take audiences on a journey from icy landscapes to fireside sing-alongs, classic carols to wintry original songs, with some year-round favorites among the holiday fare.
NAN What's Up on 12/01/2019
Print Headline: Music, Music And More Music