forging new sonic dimensions from ancient melodies
In 2015 virtuosic early music vocalists Samela Aird Beasom, Christen Herman, and Susan Judy, and versatile classic/jazz-and-beyond composer/arrangers and instrumentalists Nick DePinna and Ross Garren had the good fortune of being introduced to one another, and the new exciting sounds of Voxfire were born.
Voxfire began as a professional vocal trio, each soprano coming from a traditional classical background. From the beginning, the trio had a passion for exploring different styles and sound worlds, whether it was chant and part songs from the Middle Ages and Renaissance or compositions newly written for them. They enjoyed turning their audiences on to fresh, new, and rarely heard music.
To high acclaim, Los Angeles-based Voxfire has appeared widely in the western United States and beyond, crafting original early music concerts for festivals and series as varied as the Santa Cruz Baroque Festival, the Arcosanti Foundation Concert series, the J. Paul Getty Museum series, and the Pasadena Conservatory of Music Mansions & Music series. The trio has released two albums of their early music material: “Songs to the Virgin” and a live-performance collection, “Echoes.” In the contemporary realm, their performances have showcased their virtuosic skills in works such as Benjamin Britten’s “A Ceremony of Carols” (sung one on a part), Steve Reich’s “Tehillim,” Martin Herman’s “In dulci jubilo,” and Edward Cansino’s “women in love.”
After sharing their distinctive and soulful sound with audiences for years – either unaccompanied or with instruments appropriate for the ancient and modern repertoire – they wanted to branch out, and thought it might be compelling to blend the “old” with the “new.”
Why not perform ancient music with modern instruments and harmonies?
In 2009 they began to realize this goal with the opportunity to do a concert highlighting songs from 14th-century Spain in collaboration with players of Middle Eastern instruments -- oud, Turkish clarinet, and hand drums. They were excited by the colorful sounds and invention that emerged from the marriage of East and West.
Entering the realm of improvisation was new and exciting.
The next step in their musical evolution was to go even more modern – both in instrumentation and the level of improvisation. They had an affection for the 14th-century songs they’d just performed, because the songs came from an interesting era – a time of relative religious tolerance, mixing of cultures and flourishing of the arts.
In 2015 they began working with composer/arranger players Ross Garren and Nick DePinna to explore ideas for arrangements, and all were ecstatic about what they were collectively coming up with – resetting and expanding their vocal lines while adding piano, harmonica, trombone, sax, percussion, layers of computer-generated riffs on their early music vocals…a lot of jazz, a dash of rock, a hint of experimental and who knows what else…in short, decisively non-14th century, absolutely genre defying.
Shattering notions and boundaries, the new Voxfire was born.
Samela Beasom - Christen Herman - Susan Judy - Ross Garren - Nick Depinna