The strange sounds of the Voca People invade Strathmore

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Entertainment,Music,Marie Gullard

Exactly who are these friendly aliens, chalk-white from head to toe except for cherry-red lips? They are the Voca People from the planet Voca, located somewhere behind the sun -- a place where all communication is made by music and vocal expression. And on Thursday evening, they will be interacting with audiences at Strathmore in an "other-worldly" program that most have probably never experienced in person and onstage.

The Israeli-based company members are not mimes, however. Nor do they speak any discernible language known to earthlings. The Vocas flawlessly mix a cappella harmonies to the rhythms of beat-box simulations of every orchestral instrument. It is not uncommon during a performance to envision, with eyes closed, an entire orchestra. The reality is that the ensemble is composed of only eight "aliens," each with a separate and delightful personality.

The aliens' creators are Lior Kalfon and Shai Fishman, and they currently have five ensembles touring the world. These two men have given birth to groups that create wordless music from Beethoven's Fifth to Madonna and Michael Jackson.

Fishman, as musical director and arranger, also creates new compositions for his aliens.

Onstage
Voca People
» Where: Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda
» When: 8 p.m. Thursday
» Info: $40.50 to $65; 301-581-5100; strathmore.org

"As a composer and creator, you always want to go for the original, to convey your creation and show audiences what you can do," he explained. "At the same time, you've got to be able to do songs that people know -- especially if the show is going to be an international success."

Because these shows tour internationally, Fishman must see to it that 40-plus performers are on the same page with the exact material. There are times when the troupes mix up their individual cast members, so it is his job to prepare everyone equally and individually.

"We owe a lot of the show's success to the personas of the performers," he continued. "They differ from company to company, but the story is always the same, and it's a good canvas to showcase their personalities."

"The lights come up, and everyone laughs," said Fishman. "Then we realize we may just have something here that people understand throughout the globe."

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Marie Gullard

Special to The Washington Examiner
The Washington Examiner