Those of you who are new to Vocal Blog or have not been to an international a cappella festival (yet) might think it’s a typo. No, it isn’t: Besides the Vocal Blog (your favourite online vocal music magazine) there is the Vocal JOG. What the FORK is this? It all began with realizing that being on tour often means the following: Take a plane or train to some airport, drive to a hotel, hurry to the venue, soundcheck, concert, after show party, sleep (a bit), have breakfast at hotel, drive to train station or airport and be gone. Gone without the slightest idea about the place you just “visited”. On top of that rather frustrating kind of spending time in probably nice places, life on tour is not particularly healthy: either too little or too much or too fast food, alcohol, little sleep and constant rushing from one place to the other.
So could there be anything better than physical activity to get the stress out? And wouldn’t it be nice to see a bit more than another run-of-the-mill hotel room and the backstage areas of the world? I realized that if you have your running shoes and suitable clothes with you all the time, there is almost always a half hour and a shower, that gives you that wonderful feeling of fresh air in your lungs and a perspective on the city or landscape you are at the moment. To motivate more people at vocal music festival to join me, I gave this “project” the name Vocal Jog and after a lot of unsuccessful efforts to find running mates, I finally had the first group Vocal Jog at London A Cappella Festival 2012. The six of us went up Primrose Hill (a proper British “mountain”…) and down in vocal music and sports history. 2013, 2014 and 2015 we did it again: Despite of after show parties the night before and rather cold London mornings, some brave Vocal Joggers made it up the Hill and back to more LACF activities right after the Vocal Jog challenge.
John (on the very left) with Hans Cassa, Florian Städtler, Claudia Appel, Nicholas Girard and Annemarie Homan on Primrose Hill, 2012
So here’s the next opportunity for all of you who are in London on Saturday, 30th of January! Join us for the Fifth More Or Less Official LACF 2016 Vocal Jog, here is the schedule and the most important details:
08:15am – meeting and start at The Premier Inn (26-30 York Way, London N1 9AA) for those who want to do a relaxing run of about 50-60 minutes
08:35am – next meeting point is the Chester Gate entrance of Regent’s Park (tube station: Regent’s Park, follow the Outer Circle counterclockwise = Northbound and meet us at the gate opposite of the road called Chester Gate; this is recommended for Vocal Joggers who would like to run approximately 30 minutes
Vocal Jog 2013 heroes: Hans Cassa, Florian Städtler, Christopher Sutton, Liz Swain, John Lau
08:45am - meeting point for the “Nordic Talkers”, those who only want to talk a walk of about 15 minutes to the top of Primrose Hill is the crossing of Prince Albert Road and Albert Terrace
09:00am – For those who just want to watch and cheer at the VocalJoggers (= fans, groupies, tweeps), wait for us on top of Primrose Hill, you won’t be able to miss us. Depending on the weather you will be rewarded by a wonderful view over the city including the London Eye and all.
09:30am – return to the Premier Inn, feel free to welcome the Vocal Jog heroes!
Here’s the link to the complete route on Google Maps. Find updates at the Vocal Jog Facebook fan page and if you want to be part of this fantastic #LACFextra #VocalJog experience, don’t miss it and join us along the way. The current world record of participants is 6 runners – London, I know we can beat this! For urgent questions, call the Vocal Jog hotline at +49 171 201 50 66.
Meet you on the LACF2016 track on Saturday morning – can’t wait!
I’m Florian Städtler, an amateur-runner, an ex-singer and – before the Vocal Jog took off – had to learn about “The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner” the hard way. Like music, workout is a highly social activity. I think running after an after-show party is simply the best. At least when it’s over.
Vokal Total 2015 in Munich – a series of a cappella concerts
Oops, Vocal Blog “Asia” from Vokal Total in Munich??? Yes, it’s me again, traveling around the globe to visit the biggest A Cappella Festival in Germany: Vokal Total. Don’t confuse it with the International A Cappella Competition vokal.total in Graz. Munich’s Vokal Total is a 3-months series of a cappella concerts (October to December) bringing the crème de la crème of vocal bands not only from Germany but from various countries to Munich. It is a pity not living close by, but me coming from Shanghai – there is no excuse for anyone in Europe to not visit this amazing festival. Thanks to the variety of different vocal groups, you will for sure find the right concert and it is also thanks to Romy Schmidt who’s hosting the Vokal Total that every year you can see the top groups and high potential newcomer groups performing in one of the 3 event locations Tonhalle, Freiheiz or Spectaculum Mundi.
Asking Romy about her personal favorite and highlight, she doesn’t know where to start and where to end, her eyes sparkling and you can feel her enthusiasm with which all the audience gets infected sooner or later.
Vokal Total 2015 – that’s 26 concerts, 37 vocal bands:
Maybebop – picture taken by Nicole Brothánek (E&P Brothánek)
What’s so special about Vokal Total and how did a cappella evolve in Germany? – Who knows better than Maybebop, the outstanding vocal band from Northern (!) Germany. Maybebop didn’t miss a single Vokal Total.
You shouldn’t wait long though to get your tickets. Most of the concerts get sold out very fast and people will queue in front of the entrance hoping to get one of the few remaining tickets.
The 8 last chances, unless you can wait until Vokal Total 2016:
Fri 27.11.2015 – The Junction (Spectaculum Mundi)
Sat 28.11.2015 – Delta Q (Spectaculum Mundi)
Sun 29.11.2015 – Rock4 (Spectaculum Mundi)
Fri 4.12.2015 – basta (Freiheiz)
Sat 5.12.2015 – ONAIR (Freiheiz)
Sun 6.12.2015 – Füenf (Spectaculum Mundi)
Sat 12.12.2015 – A Cappella hoch 4 (Freiheiz)
Sun 13.12.2015 – Voices In Time (Freiheiz)
Next year will be the 20th anniversary of Vokal Total. Like most of the visitors who want to come back every year, I am already looking forward and very curious who will be the newcomers and top groups participating in 2016. Stay tuned!
by Florian Städtler, who interviewed German beatboxer and author of “Beatbox your choir!”, Julian Knörzer for Vocal Blog
Beatboxing and vocal percussion are an essential part in all choirs and vocal groups today. Julian’s book and hybrid DVD not only provides a systematic and practical instruction on how to learn all relevant techniques, it also shows how a vocal percussionist can support his own ensemble. It is designed for both newcomers as well as advanced vocal percussionists. „Beatbox Your Choir“ is well suited for you to systematically learn and improve techniques or to choose your favorite sounds and patterns for your daily practice.
17 recorded Loop Songs of different genres give room for beatbox accompaniment to directly implement the learnt material.
On 123 pages and with the attached hybrid-DVD (with video- and audio segments) a wide learning and practice ground provides:
- The most important beatbox sounds (numerous video tutorials – each technique is easily displayed and explained)
- Rhythmic basics and the standard structure of drum patterns
- Over 77 patterns of different musical genres
- Over 15 rock fills
- 17 recorded Loop Songs as „Beatbox-Alongs“ written by Bertrand Gröger, Leopold Hoepner, Till Buddecke, Christian Ronsfeld, Julia Pellegrini, Tamino Franz and Julian Knörzer.
- An additional chapter about ensemble accompaniment and beatboxing
- Practice tips and practice material
- An FAQ catalogue with contributions from choral conductors all over Germany.
For all recordings of the Loop Songs I could assemble an ensemble of Stephanie Neigel and Julia Pellegrini (Les Brünettes) as well as Sebastian Hengst and Leopold Hoepner (Delta Q)
Julian, every young person who decides to become a musician knows this question: „Can you make a living by being a musician?“ You as a beatboxer have made this your profession. How often have you heard this question? And what do you answer your concerned relatives?
People in the audience frequently ask this question. I am very grateful that I am able to work in projects that go very well. It seems that I’ve found the right niche. 10 years ago I would have never thought that I could be a professional beatboxer or vocal percussionist. My relatives have witnessed all highs and lows in a musician’s life. They have seen that it can be very stressful and energy consuming but they also saw that I do make a living as a beatboxer although becoming a teacher would have been the safer one for sure.
The finals of the prestigious international choral competition “Let the People Sing“ are taking place in Munich (Germany) this weekend. “Let the People Sing“ is a competition founded by BBC and now organized by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). Every other year the finals are hosted in a different city. This time, it is hosted by the Bavarian radio and television station Bayerischer Rundfunk (BR).
On Saturday, October 10 there is a great choral get-together at the University for Music and Theater Munich where you can hear the Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks – one of the best professional choirs in the world – the finalists of 2015 and the two choirs of the finals from the Luxemburg finals two years ago.
The Finals 2015
Sofia Vokalensemble (cond.: Bengt Ollén), Sweden
Riga Latvian Society Chamber Choir Austrums (cond.: Arijs Skepasts), Latvia
KlangsCala (cond.: Helmut Zeilner), Austria
Madrigalchor der Hochschule für Musik und Theater München (cond.: Martin Steidler), Germany
Sunday evening, 7pm German Time, the competition takes place at the Bavaria Brodcasting Station (BR). There will be a live stream (www.br-klassik.de) via most of the EBU member stations.
„Finale dahoam“ – The Magical Choir as a host
Germany is represented at the finals by one of its best semi-professional choirs. In 2014 the “Madrigalchor der Hochschule für Musik und Theater” won the German Choir Competition (Deutscher Chorwettbewerb) and after a nomination by the Bavarian Broadcasting Station he made it to the finals. At a USA concert trip last year they got the nickname “Magical Choir”, because it’s much more familiar than the German word “Madrigalchor” and people thought it’s a fit with the inspiring sound of this ensemble. We spoke with its conductor, Prof. Martin Steidler.
Martin Steidler is professor for choral conducting at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater München. He is the artistic leader of the Madrigalchor, the Heinrich-Schütz-Ensemble Vornbach and the AUDI Youth Choir Academy. He works with great personalities like Kent Nagano, Julian Pregardien and institutions like the Bavarian State Orchestra, the Academy for Ancient Music Berlin, the Orchestra of the Bavarian Broadcasting Station (BR) on a regular basis. He is traveling around Europe and all over the world with his ensembles and as a guest conductor.
Interview with Prof. Martin Steidler
Welcome Prof. Steidler. On this weekend you’re participating at the choral competition „Let the People Sing“ with your Madrigalchor. The next highlight, after winning the German Choral Competition! What makes your choir that special? Why are you so successful?
The Madrigalchor is a very special ensemble. There are a lot of great personalities, which have decided to share their passion for music and make this to a key attitude in their life. There is always a great YES to everything we are doing und an unbelievable positive energy you can feel when working with the ensemble. This is incredibly inspiring.
More than 70 musical students are singing in your choir. The atmosphere seems to be phenomenal. How do you form this group and lead it to a positive and performance-enhancing spirit?
I try to form this community as a strong team and although there are a lot of students leaving each year we were able to establish this as a part of the university and the choral life in our region. Therefore we look at the details and keep an eye on exciting projects, a good structure, efficient rehearsals and we give room on a personal level. We always find new talents and able to integrate them in our community.
You are performing at choral competitions, with different orchestras, cooperating with the BR and you have the daily projects at university. How do you handle your time plan and where do you draw the line?
This is a balancing act. I have to choose every project very carefully. The students and other courses may not be influenced too much and so we are not able to sing every project, when invited. The quality of the music, the variety of the repertoire and how it fits the strengths of the choir and the opportunity of interesting partnerships determine this process.
Despite all this projects a competition final like „Let the Peoples Sing“ is a special Highlight?
Yes of course. The conjoint effort and focus gives an incredible strong input. Working on a short program, rehearsing very intensively on every detail is incredibly enriching. The choir profits the whole year, because the concentration and quality in our work helps us to cross borders we wouldn’t be able to cross in our daily routine.
What is so unique about this competiton?
The quality of the ensembles, the internationality and the worldwide broadcasting.
Is it something special for you to host it in your hometown Munich?
Yes, it’s a special honor to be the co-host for choirs from all over the world.
And you want to win?
We want to share our passion and all the things we could experience I our rehearsals: intensity, collective emotion, elation and musical interpretation. That’s the goal. We want to stretch the arc of suspense and deliver the best possible performance at the competition.
Thank you for this interview. Now you can convince us on Sunday evening at 7 pm. We can watch and listen the live stream all around the world.
It was 1984 when The Real Group was formed. More than 3 decades later, they are still touring across the globe and celebrating their 30th anniversary with their fans all over the world. A few days ago, The Real Group had a concert in the Seoul Arts Center in Korea. Although in the same time zone, we failed to do a „Real“time interview due to bad internet connection. But Morten, baritone of The Real Group, was so nice to give me an interview at a later time. I am very happy to share it with you here on Vocal Blog!
An Interview with Morten Vinther (The Real Group)
Juliana: Congratulations to your 30th anniversary – The seniors of contemporary a cappella! This year (2015), you started your anniversary world tour – is it routine or how does it feel different?
Morten Vinther Sørensen, The Real Group
Morten: It feels like an extreme privilege for us, to get to celebrate our anniversary with so many people all over the world. And singing songs from almost the whole period of 30 years, puts our own work into a new perspective – for example; choosing songs for an anniversary concert is REALLY hard, when you have hundreds of potential candidates for the list. So that feels different! And even though singing concerts and traveling is what we do, it never becomes routine to meet a smiling audience. Every night is different and we thoroughly enjoy it – recently in South Korea we had fans bringing cake and enjoyed it a bit extra! :-)
Juliana: On your „round the world tour“, you’ve just been in Korea. It seems you’ve been almost everywhere. How did you choose the countries and locations for your anniversary tour?
Morten:We actually sat down with a wish to spoil ourselves a little and said: Which places that we have been to would be on a wish-list? And then we basically tried to make that happen with our manager Helena Roos and our hardworking contacts all over the world. This far the tour has included central Europe, most of Scandinavia, United States, Japan, England, South Korea and before the year is over we will visit Germany, Switzerland, Luxemburg, Latvia, Denmark and have a few trips in Sweden.
Juliana: What is your favorite location?
Morten:Impossible to answer! Every spot has it’s own charm, and I really like getting to switch between cultures and regions all the time. We are all in love with FOOD though (!), which results in tough concerts when we visit countries like Italy and Japan – note to self: don’t eat the 15th bite of sushi before the concert!
Juliana: What is your special linkage to Korea?
Morten: Some years back a very visionary man - Jay W. Sung, FEEL MUSIC – contacted us, because he wanted to use our music in TV-commercials in South Korea and he immediately made us appear on big campaigns on national TV. So that was actually the start of when ended out extensive touring in Korea, hosting an a cappella festival in Seoul, singing at the opening-ceremony of the FIFA World Cup and developing the “a cappella phone” with LG to name the most important things (of course, the love for Korean food followed…)
Juliana: What is your personal highlight touring / singing with the Real Group?
The Real Group
Morten: Personal highlights, hmm, there’s almost too many highlights – but I will try to name a few.
- Touring in South Africa is definitely on the list. We are ambassadors for the charity organization Star for Life that work in South Africa have been visiting schools with that initiative, while also doing our normal concert. Deeply moving encounters with the smiles, the singing and the past.
- Almost living for one month (in total) in the middle of Shibuya, Tokyo, while singing 19 concerts in almost all the suburban areas of Tokyo. Feels a little like home when we come back now.
Juliana: Looking back in your band’s history and your many visits to Asia, how do you think the A Cappella world changed during that time? Especially in Asia?
Morten:The genre has opened up to so many different ways of approaching a cappella. In Asia we have seen both the contemporary and the folky styles develop a lot.
Juliana: Three decades „The Real Group“ – you became ambassadors for a cappella – What is the secret of establishing a worldwide successful renown a cappella group and keeping at the top, motivating and inspiring other groups to sing a cappella?
Morten: I would say that The Real Group has never had those “goals” in mind. I’m not sure it’s secrets but curiosity, timing, respect and extremely hard work has definitely been factors, that has helped on the way – hard work being the biggest one! :-)
Juliana: Do you need to continuously reinvent yourself?
Morten:It would be very boring if we continued to do the same, so I think we have a natural urge to invent new music, new arrangements and follow new ideas – no sure if that is reinventing. But it probably comes out of the aforementioned curiosity… it’s hard to stop that!
The Real Group greeting the Vocal Blog followers “Meet!”
Juliana: What comes next? What are your upcoming projects? Will you continue with LEVELELEVEN (The Real Group + Rajaton)?
Morten:We have a repertoire with a symphony orchestra, that we will take out a few times within the next year. And yes, that’s our plan to continue with LEVELELEVEN – as long as Rajaton wants us on stage with them :-) It’s a very dear project to all of us and besides developing new music and exploring a new instrument together, we have so much fun when we meet. There’s already a few concerts in the calendar for next year with Leveleleven, and we’re looking forward to the luxury.
Juliana: Is „the Bass-Anders“ leaving the biggest change you experienced during your time with The Real Group?
Morten:Yes, it is definitely the biggest change I have experienced, because Anders Jalkeus is the first member that has left the group, since I joined. That being said, I have been singing with Emmas substitute Kerstin when Emma was on her maternity leave and now more than half a year with our new bass Janis Strazdins – so the changes feel less dramatic than they might look, I guess. The music always lingers on
Juliana: Your new bass Janis joined this year. How did Janis make his way from Latvia to The Real Group?
Morten:We already knew about Janis before we started to look for Anders Jalkeus’ replacement. He used to sing in the extraordinary Latvian vocal group Cosmos and since they split up some years back he quickly made it to our list of people we wanted to talk to. For the last five years, Janis has been singing and touring with the renowned Latvian Radio Choir so it was a steady, calm and experienced guy who entered our rehearsal place to try out with us. I remember rehearsing much longer passages of the pieces than we had planned for, and generally our feedback to his singing was very positive – Janis was cool and answered: “Well, that’s what they pay me for…” :-) Janis feels like a great addition to the group and his background reflects the same kind of musical curiosity that can be found in The Real Group – so now we are curious about the future :-) !
Juliana: What is ”The Real Group Academy” about?
Morten:The Real Group Academy is our online “hub” for education within the vocal music field. We have tried to find a way to tie all the great teachers we know out there to all the wonderful singers who wants to learn more. So we really try to connect the singers/conductors/arrangers who want to improve – to the one they need to talk to, so they can meet in real life or via Skype or other digital platforms. The Real Group Academy organize weekend-courses, festivals, coachings, workshops and through Peder Karlsson we’re a part of the RAMA Vocal Center in Denmark. We care a lot about vocal music, basically.
Juliana: Thank you so much for your interview! Enjoy the remaining 30th anniversary tour of The Real Group!
The Real Group “Live in Japan” (also mentioned by Kaichiro Kitamura who is a guest performer on the CD)