Jerry Bierschenk likes to work without a net.
“We have a lot of choral groups in the area, and I wanted to do something that was unique,” says Bierschenk, the director of choral ensemble Voices of Fort Worth. “I don’t believe there is another group in Fort Worth that sings only a cappella music. It is a unique craft.”
Bierschenk formed Voices of Fort Worth in 2012. A former director of the Texas Boys Choir, he heads the music department at Texas Wesleyan University.
“I was encouraged by one of my [Texas Wesleyan] students to form my own group,” he says. “He was interested in doing special music that was maybe a little more challenging than most choral singers could manage. So we put together a hand-selected group that could sing at a higher level.”
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The current ensemble, which has a roster of 12 women and 11 men ranging in age from their 20s to over 60, also moves around for its performances.
Early Renaissance music is the sound I have in my ear that I want this group to replicate. It has its own particular beauty and its own particular tone color.
A cappella music is sung without the use of musical accompaniment.
So there will be no instruments playing when Bierschenk and his 23 singers perform their Christmas-themed concert at Arborlawn United Methodist Church on Dec. 17 and at Marty Leonard Community Chapel on Dec. 18.
“Early Renaissance music is the sound I have in my ear that I want this group to replicate. It has its own particular beauty and its own particular tone color,” the conductor says. “We try to create an orchestra of voices. It’s a little bit different concept than when you have an instrument or orchestra supporting you.”
While the upcoming performances are inspired by the season, audiences should not expect an evening of the usual suspects done in a familiar way.
“It is not a traditional Christmas carol type thing with Joy to the World and Deck the Halls and all of that,” says Bierschenk. “What you are going to hear are some absolutely stunningly beautiful arrangements of Christmas music done in very classical settings.”
The works to be offered include some titles in Latin, and nearly all are from the distant past. But the arrangements of the works are by contemporary musicians, including a setting of Away in a Manger (one of the few recognizable titles on the program) by Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo, whom Bierschenk cites as a particularly outstanding arranger of choral music.
“We try to be very eclectic in our concerts and go through different historical periods,” says Bierschenk, who is a trumpet virtuoso as well.
“We search for venues that have the best sound. And for these two concerts, both rooms are acoustically phenomenal,” he says.
But despite the group having been around for a few years and reaching out to various communities in Tarrant County, Bierschenk says he would like to see it have a slightly higher profile than it currently enjoys.
“We hope people will come out and investigate the new kids on the block,” he says.
- Voices of Fort Worth Christmas: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 17 at Arborlawn United Methodist Church, Fort Worth
- Christmas at the Chapel: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 18 at Marty Leonard Community Chapel, Fort Worth
- $5-$15 each
- 817-713-4536; www.voicesoffortworth.com