The art of a capella

Linda Saholt

News Review Correspondent

A cappella, singing without any technical enhancements, including musical instruments, is an art form seldom seem these days. Vocaldente, a group of five young men from Germany, is reviving the art nicely. The group performed at Indian Wells Valley Concert Association’s last concert of the season on April 23.

They sang beautifully, but because of the sheer size of the Parker Performing Arts Center, they had to break their no-enhancements rule and put microphones around the front of the stage. They performed about five or six feet back, so the mikes picked up the whole group, not individuals.

The harmony was sublime, and they accompanied themselves with a wide range of sound effects produced with voices and bodies, like finger-snaps, cupped hands, clapping, hoots and breath control.

Their first number, “Let’s Misbehave,” was silky smooth, with a definite doo-wop back beat. One group member described their sound as “100-percent organic.”

The five were Tim Ole Joehnk, countertenor; Tobias “Tobek” Kiel, first tenor; Jakob Buch, second tenor; Johannes “Johnny” Gruber, baritone/mouth percussion and Tobias “Tobi” Pasternack. They all hail from Hanover, a small town in Germany.

Their particular style might be better suited to a smaller, more intimate venue. They also had the unenviable task of following the extremely popular “Rhythm of the Dance,” IWVCA’s fourth concert, which earned a 9.9-percent average (out of a possible 10) rating from audience members. That’s the highest rating ever, according to IWVCA Business Manager Carl Helmick.

few concerts would be able to follow that act. As it was, Vocaldente did remarkably well, earning a partial standing ovation after two curtain calls and an encore.

Yes, they did sing several songs in German. They also sang the ever-popular “Does Your Chewing Gum Lose its Flavor” and “Thank God I’m a Country Boy.” Their rendition of “Yesterday” was exquisite. On some songs, Vocaldente members called for audience participation, like singing along or clapping in time with the singing.

Other songs included “The Wanderer,” “Footloose,” “Rosanna,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” a medley of Michael Jackson tunes and a medley of Justin Bieber songs. Some of the artists represented included Elvis Presley, Ray Charles, Lionel Ritchie and Freddy Fender and Queen. The performance was spiced up with choreography and entertaining stories and quips. Vocaldente was clearly having fun.

This was listening music, not dance music, so the group’s versions tended to be smoother, more laid-back and less “peppy” than the originals. Their version of “The Prayer of the Children,” was gorgeous, with all five singers in the finest harmony of an evening of fine harmony.

Their closing number was a very Latin version of “Conga,” and their encore piece was “Roseanna.”

“I thought they were very talented, not only in their music, but also in their comedy and dance,” said Helmick. While the auditorium was not quite as full as with “Rhythm of the Dance,” it was still respectable.

Story First Published: 2013-05-01