In our latest Meet the Artist interview, EXIGENCE Vocal Ensemble members Steven Berlanga (Bass), Monique Spells (Mezzo-Sporano/Alto), Kaci Timmons (2nd Soprano), and Mathew Valverde (Tenor 1) answered a few of our burning questions about EXIGENCE and the Sphinx Organization. Read on to learn more about the ensemble and what you can expect at their upcoming Presenting Series performance on February 2, 2023.
What does the mission of the Sphinx Organization to “transform lives through the power of diversity in the arts” mean to you personally?
Monique (Mezzo-Soprano/Alto): As creatives, we are not “one thing.” We mold, stretch, and transform as we learn, discover, and embody our art. The impact of the arts is unmatched as it touches what can’t always be seen but is certainly felt across class, race, and age. What can be seen is the manifestation of potential matched with passion and diligence. Sphinx reminds me that I’m not limited.
What has been your most memorable performance with the ensemble thus far?
Monique (Mezzo-Soprano/Alto): Our performance of the Seven Last Words of the Unarmed is unlike any other. I knew while learning the piece that it would be one of the most impactful pieces in our repertoire. We were fortunate enough to have Joel Thompson read his letter to the listener live before our performance of the piece and it struck such a chord with us all. It heightened the performance of each singer. This text has been masterfully set.
What can the audience expect at this performance?
Kaci (2nd Soprano): The audience can expect to be taken on an emotional musical journey; from the sacred spaces evoked by spirituals and motets, to the joyful and percussive Latin American grooves, to the visceral, gut-wrenching, yearning for freedom and social justice, and finally, arriving at the most prayerful and powerful of places music can deliver, hope. It is a ride like no other, and I have been blessed to be able to make this music.
What is your favorite piece to perform in your current repertoire and why?
Matthew (Tenor 1): Joel Thompson’s Seven Last Words of the Unarmed. This work is genius, powerful, sadly timely, so wonderfully composed for the voice, and continues to move me to tears every time. Having performed this work alongside the composer is an unforgettable experience.
How do you stay motivated while touring?
Steven (Bass): Social time with the EXIGENCE family, maintaining routines (exercise, practice, meditation/breathing, playtime), and connecting with loved ones at home.
Monique (Mezzo-Soprano/Alto): This maestro, these singers, this music, this mission … it’s enough. I’m so honored to be a part of this group.
What is one piece of advice you would give to aspiring artists?
Steven (Bass): Your output does not determine your worth. There is more than one way to be heard and hired. Spend time learning the business and finances surrounding your art.
We want to thank the ensemble members for their answers. Be uplifted on February 2, 2023, by the inspirational lyrics and stunning synchronicity of EXIGENCE Vocal Ensemble’s timely performance With One Voice.