By GUY D’ASTOLFO
Perpetuum Jazzile, a unique vocal ensemble from Slovenia, will make a stop in Youngstown as part of its current U.S. tour.
The 35-voice chorus will perform at Stambaugh Auditorium on Wednesday evening.
The act is no ordinary choral unit. Singing mostly in a capella style, it breaks down pop songs and reconstructs them in multiple parts, like an orchestra of voices.
But to fully understand Perpetuum Jazzile, it’s best to simply check out their videos on Youtube.com. Be sure to start with PJ’s version of Toto’s 1982 hit “Africa,” which begins with a simulated rainstorm, complete with thunderclaps.
The ensemble also covers songs by Lady Gaga, Abba and others with a similar sense of fresh-faced fun. Percussion and other instrumental sounds are all done by voice, as the choir has no backing band. Soloists are also highlighted in many numbers.
Peder Karlsson is the musical director of the ensemble, which was founded in 1983.
In a phone call last week from the airport in Charlotte, N.C., where his plane had just touched down, Karlsson talked about the appeal of Perpetuum Jazzile.
“There is an interest going on with TV shows like ‘Glee’ and the sing-offs,” he said. “Music in a choir is reaching out to a global audience. It has broader appeal.”
He quickly added, “But I don’t know many who do it the way we do it.”
Perpetuum has an ever-changing lineup, and takes its pick from the top young vocalists in Slovenia. It’s youthful spirit is evident at performances.
“They are professionals but still have that amateur spirit,” Karlsson said of his singers. “I can’t give them a score they don’t like to sing. They have a big heart and a real passion for music. They love being on stage and [it’s obvious] at every concert. We go on stage and sing uplifting, energetic and inspirational songs, so expect to be happy.”
Although Perpetuum does sing a few songs in Slovenian — just to give a picture of who they are as a people — the majority of each show consists of American pop songs, sung in English.
Perpetuum Jazzile, which is very well known in its native land, has toured the United States several times throughout its history, most recently in 2011.
The current tour included an appearance on the “Fox and Friends” TV newsmagazine Thursday.