"Renaissance Men 2016-17 Season Announcement"
by Renaissance Men
August 29, 2016
BOSTON, MA — Renaissance Men, Boston’s professional male vocal chamber ensemble, announces their 2016-17 season.
"Renaissance Men base diverse concert on turbulent year 1965"
by David Weininger, The Boston Globe
February 11, 2016
Boston is so richly stocked with choruses and vocal ensembles that it can be a mild shock to realize gaps exist in this crowded part of its artistic environs. But a couple of years ago, six guys, all freelance singers, found themselves running into each other at gigs and bemoaning the dearth of opportunities to sing in a male vocal group. Not a men’s chorus, of which Boston has several — including Boston Saengerfest, Apollo Club of Boston, and the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus — but a small ensemble to sing what Eric Christopher Perry calls “vocal chamber music” for men’s voices.
Naturally, they decided to do something about it. So was born Renaissance Men, a now nine-member ensemble whose identity embraces the dual connotations of its name...as Anthony Burkes Garza, Renaissance Men’s general director, pointed out during a recent interview, the phrase also indicates “someone who’s accomplished in a wide array of mediums. And we have such a diverse range of musical interests.” Some members sing in bands, another was brought up singing country music, still others have done barbershop. So for its second performance in November of the same year, the ensemble programmed a concert of hymn tunes, spirituals, and bluegrass, with some members playing banjo, guitar, and double bass in addition to singing.
This weekend’s concerts represent Renaissance Men’s most ambitious program to date. “RenMen 1965” explores an eclectic cross-section of music from the midpoint of a tumultuous decade, as an echoing of the resemblances between that time and our own. “I got to thinking how eerily similar things are now to what they were back then,” Perry recalled, referring to a fragmented social fabric and the strife around an emerging civil-rights movement. “Wouldn’t it be kind of interesting to program [a concert] that makes you think about these issues, using the music of that time?”
"RenMen Amuse and Edify"
by Geoffrey Whiting, Boston Musical Intelligencer
April 13, 2015
The nine-man vocal ensemble Renaissance Men (popularly known as RenMen) wrapped up its inaugural season with a pair of performances, April 10th at St. Paul’s Church, Brookline, and April 11th in Gordon Chapel at Boston’s Old South Church (this reviewer heard the latter). At pains to show that their name indicates their embrace of a multiplicity of musical genres instead of an exclusive devotion to Renaissance polyphony, their “Branches” offered a “journey from the church . . . to the tavern.” From the music library of the Harvard Glee Club, they drew on a gold mine of male choral literature: a single sacred anthem, folk song arrangements (one religious-themed), some gems of the German Männerchor tradition, and a group of drinking songs of various nationalities. The RenMen comprise tenors Kilian Mooney, Alexander Nishibun, Eric Christopher Perry (also conductor), and Peter C. Schilling; baritones Sam Kreidenweis, Dominick (DJ) Matsko, and Will Prapestis; and basses Brian Church and Anthony Burkes Garza.
My reaction to my first hearing of Renaissance Men was one of excited pleasure. In solos one can hear that these men, trained singers all, have quite individual voices, but when united they blend smoothly into a pleasing whole under Eric Christopher Perry’s unobtrusive but effective direction. Whether in compositions written expressly for male chorus or in arrangements, they move, amuse, edify, and entertain. Given the semi-neglect heretofore of much of this repertoire, I look forward to future RenMen seasons as they broaden and deepen their repertoire.
"RenMen Dispense Roots with Bitters"
by Brian Schuth, Boston Musical Intelligencer
November 11, 2014
Although the Renaissance Men have presented their share of older music in their brief existence, their Friday night concert at St. Paul’s Episcopal in Brookline emphasized the Da Vinci quality in their moniker. The program was entitled “Roots” and was meant to imply “roots music”—that is, the oldest strains in American popular music, from shape note to spirituals to bluegrass.
Nine in number, the Renaissance Men are at their most glorious when singing en masse. They produce a resonant, lustrous tone over which they have tremendous dynamic control. At their loudest they are imposing, overwhelming and impressive; at the other end of the spectrum, their quiet passages are delicate, transparent and assured. The space may be helping them out; St. Paul’s Episcopal in Brookline felt ideal. Very open, with a high chapel ceiling, it had a simple, square, low wood platform in the middle of the space—the sound was vivid and warm, without any excess echo to muddy things.