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In Practice: New York Polyphony

The four-man vocal ensemble New York Polyphony sings ancient music built for big resonant spaces. Since they can't just pop into St. Patrick's Cathedral any time they need to practice a renaissance mass, the group rehearses sometimes in the Jackson Heights home of bass singer Craig Phillips. There, in a modest-sized living room, they can hear every detail. "It's a very different experience rehearsing in a dry room and a small room," says tenor Geoffrey Silver. "You actually hear what you and your colleagues are singing, there's no watercolor wash over what you are doing."

When they practice, the band governs their voices — alto, tenor, baritone and bass — like a string quartet. They are four separate instruments working together, striving for a rich blend and uniformity when singing the vowels. "It's a very organic experience," Phillips says.

Credits

Producers: Mito Habe-Evans, Anastasia Tsioulcas; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; Production Assistants: Amanda Ameer, Nick Michael; Executive Producers: Anya Grundmann, Keith Jenkins

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Tom Huizenga is a producer for NPR Music. He contributes a wide range of stories about classical music to NPR's news programs and is the classical music reviewer for All Things Considered. He appears regularly on NPR Music podcasts and founded NPR's classical music blog Deceptive Cadence in 2010.