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New York Polyphony's Living Room Madrigal

For New York Polyphony, it's location, location, location. The four-man vocal ensemble thrives on music from the Renaissance, much of it designed for cavernous, reverberant spaces. Think voices soaring through arched cathedrals. But madrigals by Flemish composer Orlando di Lasso, with their more intimate storytelling vibe, are suited for smaller venues — like, say, the living room of New York Polyphony bass Craig Phillips.

Rehearsing at his home, the singers can hear each other in fine detail and concentrate on pronouncing words the same way at the same time.

"To have four guys who have very different instruments — you know, alto, tenor, baritone and bass — coming together and sounding as uniform as a string quartet, we have to work quite hard on uniformity of vowels," countertenor Geoffrey Silver says.

You can watch the group sing through Lasso's "Matona mia cara," in which a German soldier woos a maiden, above. And to watch New York Polyphony sing more and talk about rehearsing, check out our new series In Practice.

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.