This article is the result of a real 21st century relationship, a transatlantic encounter of the digital kind, a musical conversation across the pond. It features a woman and a man from different countries, continents and cultures who have decided to get to know each other’s world a bit better by simply asking each other 10 questions.
Lauren “Lo” Barreiro – according to www.casa.org – is “a recent Boston transplant from Tallahassee, Florida”, who started studying voice at the age of eleven and fell in love with a cappella during college. At Florida State University, she studied voice performance and recreation management and directed the FSU’s first and only all-female a cappella group, the AcaBelles. Today she’s a CASA ambassador in Boston and has led workshops, panels, and masterclasses at SoJam 2010, became a team member of The Vocal Company as a consultant, producer, and arranger, and founded the all-female professional sextet Musae (@MusaeVocal). Not to forget, Lo writes about her teaching and singing experience on her own blog Acalosophy.
Florian Städtler lives and works out of Freiburg, Germany. After studies of jazz & pop guitar and working as a band leader, arranger and composer for several years, he slowly but surely moved from the microphone to the telephone. When he decided to found his company SpielPlanVier in 2003, he had worked for the pioneering Jazzchor Freiburg for more than ten years, organizing tours to Japan, South Korea, Russia and all over Europe. Today Florian has established his agency as one of the leading artist management companies for vocal music, working with groups like The Swingle Singers, The Real Group, Rockapella, VOCES8 and The Boxettes. In 2009 he started blogging about vocal and a cappella music via Vocal Blog and one year later started the process of founding the European Voices Association (EVA).
What started with some tweets between @loloalexandra and @vocalblog (or was it some Facebook comments?) led to a mutual wish to learn more about perspectives on vocal music on both sides of the Atlantic. It’s basically a Q&A (question & answer) dialogue that’s going on…we actually don’t know for how long, the original idea was ten questions and ten answers by Lo & Flo. We’ll see what’ll happen. These posts will be short and will be uploaded about twice a week on one or both of the blogs. So here we go, let the Lo & Flo A Cappella Q&A start, as a humble step to make a cappella people in the US and the EU aware of each other.
Lo’s question #1: “Why do you, or really, do you think the American and European vocal music aesthetics are so different?”
Flo’s answer #1: “That’s a big question. Firstly, yes: vocal music aesthetics as well as aesthetics in general are different. That’s simply because music on both continents is based on very different cultures. From an non-US point of view, the States – although based on a history of immigration – are much more ONE region than the (still very young) European Union. The European diversity is reflected by various completely different cultures ranging from Icelandish avantgarde pop to Spanish hard rock or the classical tradition from Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Wagner, Shostakovitch, Stockhausen etc. The history of dozens of completely different mini-states in Europe resulted in different languages, different currencies, different school systems, different media, and – of course – different music. That’s why in my opinion the differences between two vocal groups from Finland and Portugal are most probably much stronger than between two vocal groups from Maryland and Texas.
Another interesting aspect: Europe’s vocal music education and organisation is exactly twenty years behind the development in the USA. The first real jazz choir in Germany was founded in 1990. The first a (small) cappella group in 1981. And every new group over here will have to ask themselves one big question regarding their style: “What’s the ratio between the incredibly powerful influence of the Anglo-American culture of popular entertainment and the cultural roots of the country we come from?”
Now it’s your turn: Tell us your opinion, give us your answer and let us know what makes US a cappella so different from European vocal music. We would love you to join the conversation, thanks for your comments!