Surbhi Bharadwaj

The Yale Institute of Sacred Music will sponsor a free concert on Saturday in Battell Chapel featuring the a cappella group Roomful of Teeth and the Dublin Guitar Quartet.

Roomful of Teeth was founded in 2009 by Brad Wells MUS ’98 ’05. The ensemble’s 2012 eponymous debut album was nominated for three Grammy Awards, receiving the award for Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance. One piece that appears on the album, “Partita for 8 Voices,” was written by ensemble member Caroline Shaw MUS ‘07. For this piece, she became the youngest person to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Music.

“Roomful of Teeth is without a doubt one of the most exciting ensembles in the world of new music, and they have already helped redefine what a solo vocal ensemble can be and sound like,” said Jeffrey Douma, professor of choral conducting at the School of Music and conductor of the Yale Glee Club.

In addition to Shaw, many other Yale alumni are members of the ensemble. Abigail Lennox MUS ‘07, Virginia Kelsey MUS ‘13 and Dashon Burton MUS ‘11 are all graduates of the ISM’s vocal program. Members Eric Dudley MUS ’03 ’04 ’11, Estelí Gomez ’08 and Eliza Bagg ’12 are also former Bulldogs.

“Roomful of Teeth represents a really interesting amalgamation of Yale ISM and Yale School of Music alumni,” said Marguerite Brooks, professor of choral conducting at the Yale School of Music.

Douma added that School of Music faculty are proud that many of the group’s alumni studied at Yale.

Roomful of Teeth’s style is inspired by voice techniques like yodeling and Inuit throat singing. According to its website, the group’s mission is to “reimagine the expressive potential of the human voice.”

The voice ensemble will perform alongside the Dublin Guitar Quartet, an Irish quartet that primarily plays contemporary classical music. The quartet has performed with well-known composers such as Philip Glass and Sofia Gubaidulina.

Saturday’s program contains a variety of contemporary classical pieces, including “How Little You Are” by Nico Muhly, a composer from Vermont. Muhly’s piece was specifically arranged for these two ensembles.

According to Melissa Maier, the ISM’s manager of publications, communications and external relations, “the ISM invites guest artists whose work is connected to the Institute’s mission of engagement with sacred music, worship and the arts.” Roomful of Teeth was chosen to perform this year because, according to Brooks, “They are superb! They are innovative, foster new music, integrate extended vocal techniques, and collaborate with a wide variety of composers from around the world.”

The ISM brings in guest choral ensembles each year. Last November, the ISM featured the Danish National Vocal Ensemble.


Marisol Carty |

Marisol Carty was Arts Editor from 2021-2022 and previously covered Music. She double majors in Economics and Philosophy.