by Florian Städtler from Stockholm/Sweden
If you’ve ever played or sung in a band yourself, you certainly know how difficult it is, to keep a group together over the years. People change, personal goals differ, members start to miss family life. Constant touring, recording and trying to make ends meet without losing artistic integrity take their toll.
Groups that are exceptionally talented and able to manage the challenge of functioning as an effective social system over decades are rare. But those who make this kind of socio-musical miracle happen, often turn into unique artistic phenomenons.
In the world of vocal and a cappella music, I’m thinking of pioneering icons like Take6, The Swingle Singers, The King’s Singers, Rajaton, Rockapella and the Swedish vocal music miracle, The Real Group.
Founded 26 years ago by music students Anders Edenroth, Anders Jalkeus and Peder Karlsson, they have developed into a role model for countless young a cappella ensembles from Europe and all over the world. As every long-term musical project, they had line-up changes, they had fantastic times and average years, sometimes they probably had to struggle to keep the project on track. But eventually, they managed to subordinate their egos to a common musical goal: A work of art called the The Real Group.
Today, the group keeps on surprising and innovating the scene. Last year, they launched The Real Community, a social network for vocal groups and singers. And very soon they will present the first a cappella online school, The Real Academy.
Which brings me to my first ever trip to Sweden’s capital, Stockholm: After 26 years as a baritone with The Real Group, Peder Karlsson decided to leave the group. If you ever had the privilege to meet Peder in person, I probably don’t have to tell you that he is a wonderful singer, an outstanding composer/arranger and a truly hilarious guy. He loves to teach and has passed on his experience and know-how to endless numbers of young, talented singers. Time spent with Peder is rewarding, inspiring and certainly good fun. And here’s the good news: Peder’s place on stage will be taken by Danish baritone Morten Vinther Sorensen. But Peder will stay on the scene, as he himself announced in his parting speech at Fasching Jazz Club last Sunday night: “I will become headmaster of a new music school, The Real Academy.” Peder, this sounds like another exciting, new chapter in your life.
Needless to say, the private farewell concert in Stockholm was a once-in-a-lifetime event, hard to describe by a humble blogger. Similar to the London Leaving Do of Swingles tenor Willy Eteson the week before, it was a family and industry meeting alike, full of musical surprises, special guests and vocal music of the highest imaginable level. The Real Group presented a repertoire of classics and current arrangements, bringing back former soprano Margareta Bengtson and featuring new baritone Morten Vinther Sorensen. When Margareta sang the original “En Sommar”, both singers and audience couldn’t hold back the tears and shortly afterwards, they let out all the tension in a stunning version of the Basie swing classic “Splanky”.
As if this wasn’t enough, the final set of the concert brought on another Nordic a cappella sensation, Rajaton from Finland. 13 world-class vocalists on the small Fasching stage, expressing sheer joy for and love to what they do, was more than touching. It was one of these rare moments, when you suddenly seem to realize that everything we do in writing, arranging, singind and organizing music makes perfect sense. Simply magic!
To get a little impression of this atmosphere, I’ve added an audio track to this post: “Chili con Carne“, one of The Real Group’s biggest hits. Even though it’s not the sound you are used to when talking of Rajaton and The Real Group: You can feel the good vibes of that special night. More music from this event might be available soon: I was told there will be video footage of one real camera and up to 30 iPhones at www.realgroup.se soon.
Farewell Peder Karlsson.
A role model in vocal music.
Tack. Thank you. Danke.
P.S. Peder wrote a touching message at his blog in The Real Community. To read it, click here.
You can find more pictures of the event at the Vocal Blog group on Facebook. If you’re not a member yet, join right now!