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Third Practice

Washington, DC         

Third Practice is a professional chamber vocal ensemble that seeks to bring the beauty of the human voice to new and broader audiences. Its mission is to bridge the gap between traditional classical and contemporary music through thoughtful and adventurous programming that explores the close connections between today’s music and the music of the past. Third Practice is named after a term for the late style of composer Claudio Monteverdi, in which he is said to have fused elements of the older "first practice" with the contemporary "second practice," creating a rich new musical language.


 Since its founding in 2012, Third Practice has established itself as a leading voice for contemporary vocal music. Its opening benefit concerts of David Lang’s little match girl passion raised thousands of dollars to fight homelessness in the local community. During the spring of 2013, Third Practice sang alongside The City Choir of Washington as the echo chorus for the world premiere of Sir John Tavener’s Three Poems of George Herbert. A year later, the group enjoyed a further collaboration with Great Noise Ensemble and the Children’s Chorus of Washington for the performance of Louis Andriessen’s tour-de-force oratorio, La Commedia. The ensemble’s artful singing won plaudits from the press, commending their "evocative heavy lifting" (Anne Midgette, The Washington Post) and "first-rate" musicality (Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim, The New York Times). The Third Practice concert experience endeavors to equip listeners with the tools necessary to engage with unfamiliar works through informed programming and in-concert discussion. This approach endeavors to illuminate the inner workings of the music while tearing down barriers that too frequently discourage a first-time listening experience. In creating a safe performance space for listeners to experience new music, Third Practice seeks to build a larger audience for vocal music in Washington and beyond.

Antonio Lotti – La Vita caduca

While Antonio Lotti’s modern fame lies primarily with his sacred vocal works, his output includes works in a variety of genres, including operas and instrumental works. The madrigal La Vita caduca, with its expressive word-painting and frequent shifts in texture, timbre and meter, displays the full compass of his compositional prowess. After only seven bars of his signature superimposed suspensions, he immediately departs into the first of many short scenes meditating on the brevity of life.

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Joshua Bornfield – Beatis videamus

Third Practice commissioned Joshua Bornfield in 2014 to compose a work to be performed alongside Monteverdi Vespers of 1610. His piece replaced the penultimate movement, firmly embedding itself within the larger early Baroque work. The resulting product, Beatis videamus, gives a strong nod to both the form and language of the Monteverdi while carving a distinct and unified musical language.

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excerpts from the little match girl passion by David Lang

David Lang’s pulitzer-prize winning vocal work, the little match girl passion, mixes Hans Christian Andersen’s classic tale with Bach’s monumental St. Matthew Passion to create a work that is as unique in concept as it is direct in message. Each singer is asked to play percussion as their own accompaniment, painting the cold, barren landscape in which the protagonist suffers and dies. These clips are from Third Practice’s premiere concerts, with all in-concert donations to help the local homeless through their own winter trials.

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