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 Oriana Frequently Asked Questions

  Q: What does Oriana mean?

A: The name Oriana was a poetic reference to Queen Elizabeth I of England. Seeking a name that evoked a classic sound without specifying an era, director William Chin drew the name from the Triumphs of Oriana,a sixteenth-century collection of madrigals with the common refrain:

Then sang the shepherds and nymphs of Diana,
Long live fair Oriana.

Q: What is a cappella music?

A: Literally translated from the original Italian, a cappella means "as in the chapel." It refers to the medieval musical practice of using unaccompanied voices in church music. The colloquial definition has evolved to mean "without instruments."

A cappella singing is one of the most difficult of musical forms, because the human voice has no built-in reference for pitch. With no reliably tuned instrument, like a piano, to depend on, a cappella singers must have a highly developed inner ear to retain proper pitch, and even more important, to stay in tune with other members of the ensemble.

Strictly speaking, any chorus that performs without instruments is singing a cappella, but the current popular surge in a cappella music generally refers to smaller ensembles of 3 to 8 or 9 members singing a variety of music. Some well-known examples are England's The Kings' Singers, Quink from the Netherlands, the Bobs (American), and, of course, The Oriana Singers. All of these groups perform a kind of a cappella referred to as "one-on-a-part" meaning that, unlike a large chorus, each line of music, or part, is performed by a single performer.

Q: What is that Ear doing all over everything?

A: The Oriana Singers call their logo the Listening Ear (TM). It was developed by designer Josh Vizek for the ensemble's tenth anniversary in 1989. The Listening Ear alerts people that here is something worth hearing. A different version of the ear was first used on the cover of the ensemble's tenth anniversary cassette; the stylized logo version thus connects the ensemble's first ten years with their future. Watch for the special TwentYears logo in 1999!

Q: Are you guys the same Oriana I've seen elsewhere?

A: The name Oriana has turned out to be a very popular one. We are the only Chicago-based choral or musical group of that name. There are other Oriana-named choirs around the U.S., in Canada, and in England. You can find some of them and a few people named Oriana on the Web.


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