Episode 155: The L.A. Choral Lab
Air date: 3.9.2016
In 2014, composer and pianist Michael Alfera was struggling with life choices and had an epiphany while hiking with a friend. He’d been looking for a new path in his life and his friend asked him some version of that telling question, “What would you do with your life if money wasn’t an issue?” In answering, Alfera’s truth tumbled out - he would start a choir. Inspired by the clarity of pursuing a crazy idea, he dug out some numbers of the many professional singers he knew around Los Angeles. “Would you be interested in being part of a new choral ensemble?” was his elevator pitch, and nearly every person he contacted said that they’d love to sing in Alfera’s group. Over and over, he heard singers say that although they had many opportunities to sing, they missed the kind of challenging, mostly a capella choral music they’d sung in college and that they just didn’t have a place to do it. Clearly, the interest was there on the part of the performers, but would there be an audience for a new choral ensemble in Los Angeles? Just two years later, the group, given the ambitious name the L.A. Choral Lab, does several concerts a year and is going strong. As conductor and musical director, Alfera curates the repertoire to suit the 22 mixed voices that comprise its members and selects pieces that represent the many variations of choral music from different eras in history. But it’s L.A. Choral Lab’s stated mission to break with the staid, familiar tradition of choral music and focus on works from new composers and inventive, unconventional performance spaces to give “unique, transformative performances” that make the group exceptional. The L.A. Choral Lab is ensuring that choral music has relevance in the new millennium.