VoXX (Voice of Twenty), formerly known as Ave Maris Stella, is a highly regarded a cappella vocal ensemble based in midcoast Maine that performs varied programs of mostly early music. Repertoire covers a wide range of time periods (from Medieval through Twentieth Century) and styles (from chant to polyphony and far beyond).
The group likes to bring unusual works to Maine audiences, yet more familiar music by such renowned composers as Byrd, Dufay, Monteverdi, Palestrina, and Josquin is also a large part of the group's repertoire. VoXX performs in many languages and styles, from English to Italian to Latin to Spanish, and from sacred to secular to humorous. The group has become well known for its work to educate audiences through extensive program notes and spoken introductions.
Former Music Director Elena Hamilton said, "It's a challenge to put a specific label on what we do, but that's what makes our experiment so interesting. We pride ourselves on the diversity of music we perform. It spans thousands of years, encompasses many languages, including some that are pretty obscure - such as Georgian - and represents a wide range of styles. For our audiences, we've found that our concerts have something for almost everybody who loves vocal music."
Indeed, in addition to the expected liturgical works, VoXX sings Sephardic songs, madrigals in many languages, and selections from far-flung locales. While the focus is on early music, the ensemble has also delved into appropriate settings by contemporary composers such as Arvo Part, Francis Poulenc, Maurice Durufle, the Hungarian Lajos Bardos, the American Morten Lauridsen, the late Kenneth Leighton, and John Tavener. While the group mainly performs a cappella, appropriate instrumentation (recorders, percussion, strings) is occasionally added.
Founded early in the twenty-first century, VoXX is unusual in that it is a collectively run, all-volunteer organization. Membership is by audition; singers share the responsibility of bringing music selections to the group. They also take turns teaching and leading.
VoXX has developed a loyal following, and has performed as part of the VanderKay Summer Music Series in Blue Hill, at Belfast by the Bay and as part of St. Margaret's Church Music Series in Belfast, and at various venues around Maine including Merrill Auditorium in Portland, the Henry Knox Mansion, the Camden Opera House and Public Library, St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Camden (the group's "home" venue), St. Denis Catholic Church in Whitefield, First Church and the Free Library in Belfast, Elán Fine Arts Gallery, the Opera House and Union Hall in Rockport, as part of the Rockland Public Library's music series and the cities of Portland and Lewiston.