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In a career spanning two decades, the New York-based composer and recording artist Toby Twining has "set a standard for the stylistically unrestricted exploration of voice music...using elements as diverse as jazz improvisation, contemporary classical pointillism and repetitions, ethnic throat singing, doo-wop, yodels, vocal sound effects and a few utterly unclassifiable techniques that are uniquely their own" (The Los Angeles Times). His forthcoming album, Eurydice, culminates years of vocal music innovations Twining has made since the runaway success of his 1994 debut, Shaman, which propelled him to acclaim well beyond the world of new music, including numerous appearances on Garrison Kiellor's A Prairie Home Companion. Cantaloupe Music will release Eurydice on February 22, offering an utterly different but equally joyful alternative to the a capella music currently at the center of mainstream pop culture.
The album's emotional terrain spans from the energy and promise of youth in Playing in the Waves and Yes! Yes! Yes! (whose groove-oriented style recalls Shaman) to the ominous, wormhole-like Eurydice's Fall. "I want to make music with vocal sounds and harmonies that are truly inventive, but accessible for anyone open to listening," says Twining.
Eurydice began as a score for Sarah Ruhl's play of the same name, directed by Blanka Zizka and produced for the Wilma Theatre in Philadelphia in 2008. The play reinterprets the classic myth of Orpheus, telling the story from Eurydice's point of view and including a reunion with her father in the underworld.
Composing for four singers and a cello, Twining delights in this underworld, which he found to be the perfect environment - quirky, funny and dangerous - for a variety of surprising vocal effects: tremolos, overtones and ingressive croaks. He employs a male soprano, Eric Brenner, for an unaccompanied solo in The Book. The String Room is an eloquent solo for cello with vocal accompaniment, punctuated by tall, languid jazz chords and vivid overtone singing. In "Orpheus at the Gates", a forty-part operatic aria depicts Orpheus' transformation from self-absorbed composer to heroic lover.