Vocal Area Network is dedicated to the advancement of vocal ensemble music in the New York City area.

Our goal is to establish Vocal Area Network as the center for vocal ensemble activities and information in New York by providing a home for the growing community of professional and avocational ensemble singers and their audiences. We offer services and produce events to meet the needs of that community. Your participation and support are most welcome.

The advancement of vocal ensemble music

There's a lot of ensemble singing going on in the tri-state area. But you'd be hard-pressed to know that by looking at the general media. Opera and pop singing get decent coverage, but ensemble singing--professional and avocational--gets short shrift. Yet, thousands of people in and around New York are involved in singing, for money or for pleasure (and in many cases, both). Vocal Area Network aims to provide a focus for all this activity--a home for vocal ensemble music, where singers and singing groups can find each other, free of the clutter of other cultural and avocational diversions.

The New York City area

Vocal Area Network focuses on vocal ensemble activities in and around New York City, including the five boroughs; Long Island; Westchester, Rockland and the Hudson Valley; northern and central New Jersey; and southern and western Connecticut. We welcome visitors from around the city and around the world.

About the vocal ensemble community

A "vocal ensemble," in our view, is a group of musicians whose primary instrument is the human voice. Although voice is the primary instrument of the vocal ensemble, it need not be the exclusive instrument. Today, the term a cappella has been stretched, sometimes ambiguously, beyond its original meaning of "without instrumental accompaniment." The "vocal ensemble" label, however, applies comfortably whether a group performs unaccompanied (in the traditional sense of a cappella) or with instruments. Vocal Area Network prefers the term "vocal ensemble" because it is both inclusive and flexible. If a group has a least one singer, it probably qualifies as a vocal ensemble for our purposes.

The "vocal ensemble community" includes professional and avocational singers (individually and in groups of all sorts), along with the audiences and organizations that support them. Though this community is clearly large and active, its visibility is often overwhelmed by the maelstrom that is the New York music and culture scene. Vocal Area Network aims to remedy that situation, in the near term through its menu of information and service offerings and in the long term by creating a physical home for vocal ensemble music.

About VAN services

Today, we deliver focused information services for the vocal ensemble community in and around New York City via our web site at www.van.org. These information services include:

  • Concert Calendar: Listings for vocal ensemble performances in the New York area.
  • Choir Directory: Information on over 300 choirs around the tri-state area.
  • Choir Auditions: Choir audition ads, all in one handy place updated throughout the season.
  • Info Exchange: Ads from groups and individuals; ads for services and opportunities.
  • Links Collection: Our gateway to vocal ensemble resources on the web.
  • VAN Store: Selected books and CDs of interest to the vocal ensemble community, available via Amazon.com. Referral fees help support VAN.

The web site is managed by Steve Friedman, Founder and President of Vocal Area Network. A lifelong resident of New York City, Steve managed to escape for four years to get a BA in Music from Yale in 1982. Since graduation, he has gamely resisted the temptation to make music his full-time focus, instead opting for a tenuous balance amongst technology, ensemble singing and Vocal Area Network. He currently sings with the St. Michael's Choir, a nine-voice professional ensemble on the Upper West Side. Steve was a founding member of the Douglas Frank Chorale, a ten-voice professional ensemble, and sang on the group's well-received recording of The A Cappella Singer; He has also sung with the 92nd Street Y High Holidays Choir, male sextet Angelus, The Dessoff Choirs, The 92nd Street Y Chorale (and its successor groups, The Mannes Chamber Singers and Cantabile), Cerddorion, The Yiddish Chorale and The Concord Symphonic Choir. He was a founding member of the vocal ensembles Pieces of Eight and The Usual Suspects, for whom many of his vocal arrangements were written. In the 1990s, he was a frequent participant in The Western Wind's vocal ensemble workshops, where more than a few of his works have received their debut performances. He founded Vocal Area Network in 1995. VAN made its web debut in March, 1996. PANIX graciously provides web-hosting services for Vocal Area Network.

About VAN events

Though Vocal Area Network is not currently producing events, we have done so in the past and may do so again in the future.

Vocal Area Network events include our own distinctive Vocal Nexus events (multiple groups, food, retail); traditional concert performances produced by Vocal Area Network; performances produced by other organizations in cooperation with Vocal Area Network (e.g. Margie O'Brien's Voice Emporium); and social and musical gatherings to encourage supportive networking among singers and groups.

Vocal Area Network Vocal Nexus events typically featured several vocal ensembles spanning a variety of styles from early music to jazz to street-corner doo-wop. Our past Vocal Nexus events:

October 29, 1995
Central Presbyterian Church
593 Park Avenue (at 64th Street)
New York City

  • The Trembles (pop / jazz trio)
  • The Kingsmen (college a cappella from Columbia University)
  • The Salomone Trio (early music)
  • DuoVoce (two voices together)

October 27, 1996
St. Jean Baptiste Community Center
184 East 76th Street
New York City

  • Club Spanky (quartet sounds of the 50s and 60s)
  • The Counterparts (college a cappella from the University of Pennsylvania)
  • DOO WA ZOO (modern a cappella in motion)

March 8, 1997
St. Jean Baptiste Community Center
184 East 76th Street
New York City

  • Harmonytryx (seven women)
  • Talisman (six men)

We complemented the musical performances with great food and sales of vocal ensemble CDs and related merchandise. The result: a rewarding experience for performers and audience alike, and a great opportunity for singers to network with each other.

Events under consideration for the future include:

  • Informal social gatherings for members of the vocal ensemble community
  • Workshops
  • Symposia on topics of interest to the community
  • Competitions
  • Improv night
  • Amateur night / open mic
  • Experimental night (harmonics, throat singing, etc.)
  • Live from Vocal Area Network
  • Private parties
  • Madrigal dinners

If you're interested in helping produce events, contact Steve Friedman.

Your participation and support

Vocal Area Network information-sharing services are provided free of charge for the benefit of the vocal ensemble community. We welcome contributions of news, calendar listings, choir audition ads and ads for the Info Exchange. We also encourage you to share your ideas about services and events you'd like to see from Vocal Area Network.

You can support Vocal Area Network by spreading the word. Downloading, printing and distributing the VAN card is an easy way to do that. (See the Spread the word page for more information about the VAN Card.)  Good old word-of-mouth works pretty well, too. If you sing in a group, encourage your leadership to submit calendar listings, update audition ads and keep our Choir Directory current. Our information services are most useful if they are accurate and up-to-date. And, your purchases of books, CDs, sheet music, audio equipment, clothing and computers through our affiliate links (found on our home page) help support VAN at no cost to you.

And if you've gotten value from the information and services provided on the site, consider becoming a Sustaining Member to help defray the costs of running the site. Details can be found on the Sustaining Membership page.

Welcome, and enjoy!