by Christian Ronsfeld (Aarhus, Denmark)
Many people associate Denmark with smørrebrød, LEGO or H.C. Andersen. In the last 20 years Denmark also developed its own a cappella brand. “Made in Denmark” is a sign for extraordinary musical quality, innovation und sincere expression. Names like Jens Johansen, Vocal Line, Ørehænger and Postyr became inspiring figures of the international choir scene.
All these names have their origin in the city of Aarhus – a city of about 260.000 inhabitants, a city that is often called “the European centre of modern vocal music”. How can a comparatively small city like Aarhus have such a vibrant music scene? Which factors are necessary to shape such an environment? In the next months I will try to give some answers in my “Local Blog”. The title might remind you of Florian Städtler’s “Vocal Blog”. It was in fact Florian Städtler who asked me to report my time in Aarhus.
My name is Christian Ronsfeld, I am German and at the moment I am in the middle of my master studies in pop/jazz choir leading, singing and arranging at the Royal Academy of Music in Aarhus. Besides that I am working as an arranger and as a choir leader for the two Danish pop choirs Naura and Sing it!. Four years ago, I experienced the quality brand “Made in Denmark” for the first time, when I went to my first concert with Vocal Line. I was so touched by their music that I felt compelled to follow all Danish workshops available at that time. My passion was enflamed, the idea was born to move to Aarhus to become a part of this unique musical centre. My journey had of course many more steps that I won’t present here in detail.
Instead, I would like to invite you on a journey to Denmark with the eyes of an insider. I want to report about the everyday life and special events in the Danish a cappella scene. My blogs will cover my studies at the Royal Academy of Music, my work on the board of the youth choir organization SYNG, artist portraits as well as the Aarhus Vocal Festival 2015.
The first “Local Blog” gives an answer to the question what you could experience in your holidays in Demark besides camping and hot dog shops. SING, SING, SING, SING – ALL YOU GOT TO DO IS SING! Every year the Danish choir organizations SYNG and KOR 72 organize a huge choir week in the Southern part of Denmark with about 400 singers from all over the country. Whole families can share their passion for singing in four different choirs: classical choir, children’s musical, pop choirs for young and more experienced participants with well-known instructors like Line Groth and Morten Kjær.
After the performance of the children’s musical, I was totally overwhelmed by the musical level. The concept makes sense: While the kids are preparing for their show, grandma has time to party with 150 singers and a huge band. Year after year family clans are meeting at this event. The Danes are calling such an occasion ”hygge”.
After one week of choir heaven in the South the guys from Postyr took over the scene with their first summer camp in Aarhus. 47 singing geeks from 10 different countries (including India and Taiwan!!!) came to Aarhus to learn from the innovative and highly educated vocal group. ”Postyr” is an old Danish word and means ”to stir something up” – well, I can conclude that they succeeded. I rarely experienced a ”do-it-yourself workshop” that was so organized, structured and had such a broad content.
The participants could choose between two tracks (singer/choir leader) in order to improve in their own field. The topics were vocal technique and interpretation, arrangement and choir leading, as well as rhythm & groove and technical issues. In the big choir the participants came together to sing a brand new song of Postyr and performed it in the final concert.
Besides the musical excellence of the group, I want to emphasize how warm-hearted Postyr interacted with the participants. Who would prepare a welcome bag with a lot of useful tourist info, discounts for a tour in the city and bottles with your personal name tag. Chapeau, Postyr!! This summer camp was a win and if I interpret the birds outside my kitchen window right, there will be a summer camp reloaded.