This past weekend, I attended my first festival sponsored by the Contemporary A Cappella Society of America. It was a great experience that I blogged about here. The culminating event of the weekend was a professional showcase concert featuring The Sing-Off favorites Afro Blue and a vocal quintet from Genoa, Italy called Cluster. In their American debut performance, Cluster took us all on an amazing ride. Their penultimate performance at the end of their set was this exquisite arrangement of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah".
This video doesn't quite do the performance justice, but you can still get a sense of the masterful way that Cluster uses contemporary jazz harmony to add tension and texture to various moments in the piece. When the group finished this rendition and the video ends, they received the first completely organic standing ovation of the night.
At the concert's after-party, I told front man Erik Bosio that his arrangement is the best I've ever heard of that song in any setting, and I've heard quite a few. He was flattered and said, "Everyone in America is so nice!"
I hope this video stays up on YouTube. Watch it while it is there. If you like what you hear, check out Cluster's website where you can buy their CD's and buy a score of this arrangement.