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Archiv

Archiv für Februar, 2012

8 Things You Should Know About amarcord

by Florian Städtler, Vocal Blog founder


Who is amarcord?
If you are into classical a cappella music and haven’t heard of the German quintet “amarcord”, you must have been living under a rock for almost two decades. This group is probably today’s most successful international pro group from Germany with tours in more than 50 (!) countries since they started in 1992. They have developed a perfection of sound, blending and interpretation that puts them on par with classical superstars as The Kings Singers, The Swingle Singers, The Sixteen to name a few.

Where are they from?
The group was founded by former members of the famous St. Thomas’s Boys Choir in Leipzig (that celebrates it’s 800th Birthday this year), the very spot where Johann Sebastian Bach lived, worked and created most of his countless masterpieces. Born as citizens of the East German GDR, they experienced the Berlin Wall coming down, reunification and learned about the challenges and the opportunities in a reunified country where two systems merge into one. Wolfram Lattke, founding member of the group told me in an interview, how much it meant, and still means, to former GDR citizens to travel to other countries and continents.

How did it all start?
“We just started the group because we loved singing and couldn’t stop after having left the choir but until 1999 it was not clear that amarcord would really become a full-time professional group,” says Wolfram Lattke. “In 1999 we took a sabbatical for half a year to make possible that everybody can finish the individual studies we started  - we didn’t do all music, one of us is a doctor, for example, which shows that the group actually didn’t start intentionally as a professional career.” Daniel, one of their basses, is a trained ENT (Ear Nose Throat) physician which is a quite helpful thing for a vocal ensemble.

What does working with the German Goethe-Institut mean for amarcord?
The Goethe-Institut organisation is a federal institution promoting German language and culture abroad. Its headquarters are in Munich, Germany and there are subsidiaries in almost every country in the world. One important part of their activities is to invite German speaking (and singing) artists abroad. And amarcord were among the chosen few, which made them see rather exotic places in Asia, Africa, Central America and Australia.

And then, in 1997, amarcord started their festival
Maybe amarcord was the first European vocal group who had a festival run by a group. This model which combines high-level curatorship with the wish to cherish the wonderful community of people singing together has later been used by major players on the vocal scene: The Real Group started The Real Group Festival, Hungarian top group Fool Moon runs a the leading event in their home country, Europe’s best “rhythmic choir” Vocal Line landed a smashing success with 2011′s Aarhus Vocal Festival and London A Cappella Festival has become an international vocal music magnet after only three years of existence, founded and curated by The Swingle Singers.

What makes Leipzig’s festival for vocal music special?
From the humble point of view of the author it’s the the fantastic level of musicianship and the amazing openness of amarcord’s programme team to invite groups ranging all the way from medieval music to pop and hiphop. Add to it the spirit of Leipzig and some really outstanding venues and you have a festival that is one of brightest stars on the European vocal music sky. Oh yes, and I almost forgot about the famous festival final party. Don’t miss it if you come to Leipzig 2012! (Note for lovers of the Vocal Jog: This year the opening concert on April 19 will feature amarcord, on April 20 you can see and hear VOCES8 and on April 21 you can run the Leipzig Marathon with a festival running team including myself…#vocaljogXXL)

Who performed at former festivals?
This is NOT a wish list – all these artists performed at Leipzig a cappella festival:  Bobby McFerrin, Banchieri Singers, trio medieval, The King’s Singers, Chanticleer, Tam Echo Ta, Huun-Huur-tu, The Hilliard Ensemble, Huelgas Ensemble, basta, Insingizi, Die Singphoniker, The Swingle Singers, The Real Group, Aquabella,, Calmus Ensemble, maybebop, The Clerks’ Group, Tailed Comedians, Niniwe, Camerata, Stouxingers, Orlando Consort, Vocal Sampling, Gothic Voices,  Viva Voce, La Venexiana, U-Bahn-Kontrollöre in tiefgefrorenen Frauenkleidern, Ensemble Tavagna, The Idea of North, Singer Pur, Basix, Sheikh Arabi Farag Ensemble, Klangbezirk, I Fagiolini, Ensemble Planeta, Club for Five, Sound Affaire, m-pact, Ensemble Clément Janequin, The House Jacks, Eva Quartet, Take 6, Vocado, Five Gentlemen, Anonymous 4, Jazzation, Rilton’s Vänner, Ommm, BR6, Wishful Singing, Gesualdo Consort Amsterdam, Stile Antico, Luys, Juice Box, Rajaton…I guess this collection of world-class a cappella groups makes this festival one of the leading vocal music events in the world.

What’s the 2012 Leipzig line-up?

Having travelled to some of the finest a cappella events of the world, I must say that I’m really looking forward to coming to Leipzig in April. After having written this post, I’m more aware than ever, that amarcord and their very own festival is a true work of art. And it’s a proof that you can combine a fantastic musical level with a financial and organisational infrastructure that makes stars from all over the world come to perform and share their music with the audience and fellow musicians. Can’t wait to experience the Leipzig vibes myself in only two months – see you there!

This is the first of a bi-weekly series of articles about the singers of amarcord, their festival and the team behind two decades of vocal music history. Stay tuned to learn more about this fascinating story.

iNtrmzzo – Testosterone, Laughter and Total Surprise

Florian Städtler, Vocal Blog founder interviewed Tjidde Luhrs, singer, IEM specialist and social media wizard with Dutch vocal group iNtrmzzo. By the way: This is Vocal Blog post no. 100 – thanks to all of my co-bloggers, interviewees, proofreaders and all others who joined the vocal music conversation. Let’s add another digit to the number of posts!

 

iNtrmzzo has been around for quite a while. How would you describe the group’s history and artistic development in short?

iNtrmzzo as a band exists more then 20 years. The last six years in a new format with more humor, beatbox and brutality. We dont like to just perform a song. We want the audience to laugh about it or to be amazed about it. Nothing is what it seems like with us !

 

The current line-up consists of three Dutch and one German singer – who are they and how did they become members of the group?

Merijn was already a member of the „old“ iNtrmzzo. Wouter was already sub-bing for someone else so he became a „real“ member. Clemens auditioned and amazed everybody with his beatboxing and singing skills…and doing those things all at the same time. And I myself joined the band after a call from Wouter. We where in a band together before iNtrmzzo. I called him just to chat a bit, but he was busy auditioning for a new member. I said: „ Could that be something for me….?“ Rest is history.

 

If you look at the „haircut“ of the group, it looks, well, quite clearly arranged. Is there any reason for iNtrmzzo’s collective bald-headedness?

Yes, you have to be bald in order to be a member !! Besides that: we’re old !!  sexy though…..;-)

 

When you come to see the group live, it’s impossible not to laugh a lot. What role does humour play in the group’s concept?

A big role. iNtrmzzo = Humor. We love to make people laugh. In every song there is a moment of laughter. Or a moment of total surprise !

 

Would you want the audience to rather see you as comedians who sing or singers who happen to be hilarious?

Singers who happen to be hilarious ! No show without the singing…. ;-)

 

The group has always been on tour a lot – what’s next on the gig list, where can your fans see the group?

A lot of our shows take place in The Netherlands. But February and March 2012 will be filled with shows in Germany and Switzerland.

  •  24.02.12 – Bunde (D) – Universität
  • 25.02.12 – Anroechte (D) – Burgerhaus
  • 01.03.12 – Korbach (D) – Stadthalle
  • 02.03.12 – Blieskastel (D) – Bliesgau Festhalle
  • 03.03.12 – Bayreuth (D) – Stadthalle
  • 04.03.12 – Biberach (D) – Stadthalle
  • 14.03.12 – Konstanz (D) – Il Boccone
  • 15.03.12 – Gaggenau (D) – Klag-bühne
  • 16.03.12 – Friedrichshaven (D) – Bahnhof Fischbach
  • 17.03.12 – Mels (CH) – Altes Kino

 

The Netherlands and Germany are certainly two of your main areas to perform. How would you compare the two countries regarding their „a cappella infrastructure“?

There’s a way bigger a cappella culture in Germany. In Holland we’re pretty much the only pro band. In Germany there are a lot of pro bands. Always a pleasure to be in Germany and meet other groups.

 

The European vocal music scene is vibrant and there seems to be lots of good things coming from various countries and styles. What is from your point of view the most interesting musical development?

Those band who keep staying innovative are always nice to listen to.

 

As a group of professional musicians you know that it’s a lot of hard work to keep a group going and innovative over a long time. What keeps you going anyway?

Fun is an important factor. We really like to tour with „the guys“. The pleasure of performing on stage is the most important thing – and of course making music together.

 

Finally, we are all looking forward to the long-awaited iNtrmzzo DVD. When can we expect to hold it in our hands?

We expect it to hold it in our hands too: Somewhen in April ! Keep you posted. ;-)

 

Thanks for doing this interview for Vocal Blog – anything else that our readers must know, something you want to tell the a cappella world?

Just keep visiting our shows and join us on Twitter and Facebook.

 

Besides being a singer within iNtrmzzo, Tjidde Luhrs is also an InEar Monitor specialist with www.inear.nl

He also runs the band’s social media. Further info on iNtrmzzo can be found on www.facebook.com/intrmzzo and www.intrmzzo.com.

 

London A Cappella Revisited (I): Competition, Media, Recordings

by Michele Manzotti, journalist

Michele Manzotti with Laura Morotti

 

I was in the audience of the panel discussion at London A Cappella Festival 2012. As Florian knows, I had to do another job that afternoon, being part of the “Single Singers” debut, and I mostly focused on that. At the same time I made some reflections that are not strictly related to topics discussed that afternoon, but I think they could be useful for some of the Vocal Blog readers.

Competition. I approve of competitions between a cappella groups. Well, at least for the young ones. Comparing the work you do to that of others is always useful and is an opportunity for growth and improvement. At the same time a competition has to be a starting point, not an arriving one, for a following career. I can talk about an experience in another genre: Since 2002 I’ve been part of the jury of the “Rock Contest”, a national competition for young musicians run by a radio station (Controradio) with the support of Mayor of Firenze and Toscana Region. The winner is rewarded with two days in a professional recording studio and a coaching by well-known musicians. The six finalists and the six semifinalists are included in a CD compilation, given to the bands for free for self-promotion, and digital distribution is guaranteed for the whole 36 groups selected for the competition. Last but not least, the organization provides some opportunities to perform in Firenze area. The results: a significant number of musicians started up a semi-professional independent rock career in Italy. Could something like that be possible in the cappella world, too?

Media. Social networks are very useful for knowing what’s happening in the a cappella scene. They can be used for sharing contacts and experiences. But for letting the audience know that the scene does exist, other media (newspapers, radio, TV) are still important and have to be a priority for every musician. I can say this from my experience as a journalist and press officer – two jobs that have similar titles, but are opposite in their aims. An article, a TV or radio show, even a brief announcement of a concert is quite valuable for anyone who’s on stage or has released an album.

LACF 2012 panel: "Global A Cappella"

Recordings. During most parts of my life , I found it a pleasure to wait for the launch of a new album and the buy it in record shops. Times have changed. Today discography as a discipline is on the decline, while music is often distributed and sold digitally. But an independent discography can be quite useful, as it presents products to the customer that are otherwise hidden in the particular niche. Why not involve independent labels or create an international one focused on a cappella music?

Michele Manzotti, is a journalist and a cappella enthusiast from Florence, Italy. He is also a founding member of the fabulous “Single Singers” project, that premiered at 2012′s London A Cappella Festival.

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