Black Sea Hotel – a dynamic a cappella trio who draw from the rich tradition of Balkan folk songs – will perform on Thursday, March 28, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Beacon Hill Friends House at 6 Chestnut St.
Formed in Brooklyn, N.Y., circa 2006, the trio of Willa Roberts, Sarah Small and Shelley Thomas reinterprets material from master singers, archival field recordings and large mid-century choral arrangements to create a unique, contemporary sound lauded as “otherworldly, haunting, even spellbinding.”
“We have a very dynamic style,” Roberts said from her home state of New Mexico, where she recently returned to live. “We’re only a trio, but people say we sound bigger than that.
“Balkan vocal music is known for being really piercing and strident, often sung as a melody in a drone with lots of dissonance,” she said. “Even if we sometimes depart from that, it’s always at the core of what we do.”
The unique harmonic blend of Black Sea Hotel is featured on Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble’s Sing Me Home, which was named “Best World Music Album” at the 2017 Grammies.
“It was such a delight to work with Yo-Yo Ma,” Roberts said. “He comes across as a magical being who is able to draw people into the process of making music by being inclusive, warm and disarming.”
Meanwhile, Roberts believes Black Sea Hotel’s songbook sheds light on women’s frequently diminished role in society at the time when the compositions were written.
“Some music we sing is hundreds of years old… and many songs are from female perspectives at a different time and era when women didn’t have as much agency in their lives,” Roberts said. “Yet somehow we can relate to it anyway. It’s the human experience we’re singing about.”
The concert will be the second event hosted The Autumn Salon, a Boston-based arts organization that curates intimate events in the spirit of the old world salon, where inspired hosts welcomed guests to share in meaningful evenings of culture and conversation.
“[It] provides an opportunity for members of the community to come together in carefully curated spaces to experience and learn about unique artists and cultural traditions from around the world,” said Christos Vayenas, a pianist-composer and founder of The Autumn Salon. Black Sea Hotel’s March 28 performance will be accompanied by wine and hors d’oeuvres. Tickets are $35, and can be purchased online at www.theautumnsalon.com/events. Space is limited so R.S.V.P. in advance.