New York Polyphony: Think of a barbershop quartet on steroids!

We set aside our weekend work, dropped our son to play disc golf with his cousins and headed to a Sunday afternoon concert at the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Grass Valley to see New York Polyphony perform to a packed house.

The performance, one of InConcert Sierra’s “Third Sunday” concerts, was spellbinding. New York Polyphony are fast-rising stars on the classical music scene.

When it comes to all-male singing quartets, most people might think of a barbershop quartet.

New York Polyphony is far more sophisticated than that. Their “rich, natural sound” and relaxed-yet-sophisticated style is entrancing. The melodies are often from medieval times but performed with a contemporary touch.

The group also discusses the origins of their music, providing an educational touch along the way. They are smartly dressed in dark ties, white shirts and charcoal-colored suits.

Works included “Ave Maria Mater Dei” (William Cornysh, c. 16th century); Mass for Four Voices (William Byrd, 1540-1623), and from “King Henry VIII’s Songbook,” “Green growith the holly.” The program is here.

We often bring our elementary school-aged son along, though he missed today’s performance. We saw one of his schoolmates there, however, and he was enjoying it fully.

The group consists of Geoffrey Williams, countertenor; Steven Caldicott Wilson, tenor; Christopher Dylan Herbert, baritone: and Craig Phillips, bass. Herbert is Martha Stewart’s nephew.

Like other world-class performers who visit the Sierra Foothills, they had praise for the region — and today’s weather. They said they enjoyed their stay in Grass Valley, including a dinner at the Owl Grill & Salon steakhouse and lodging at Grass Valley Courtyard Suites.

Under Artistic Director Ken Hardin, InConcert Sierra provides a diverse and exciting lineup. It features more casual classical music performances, as well as a mix of “rising stars” and accomplished performers. Most of them tour internationally.

Nowhere is Hardin’s ability to pinpoint and land the fast-rising stars more apparent than with the program featuring New York Polyphony.

The story about InConcert Sierra in our current issue is here.

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