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Artikel Tagged ‘European Voices’

Join LEOsings in Freiburg, March 5th-8th!

by Florian Städtler, Chairman of the Board, European Voices Association

 

How do we sing in Europe? How do we teach singing? What do we sing?

From the insight that giving people the opportunity to meet peers from different cultures and countries helps to improve the quality and mutual understanding, experts from five countries and eight partners have joined in the two-year cooperation project “LEOsings!”.

After successful meetings in Barcelona (Spain), Aalborg (Denmark) and Tours (France), the fourth out of five project meetings will take place in Freiburg (Germany) from March 5th to 8th, 2015. This session is hosted by The European Voices Association (EVA) addressing the topic of “Cooperation an Networks in European Vocal Music”.

LEOSINGS (video : Les Loups Blancs) from Les Films du Loup Blanc on Vimeo.

EVA cordially invites choir conductors, arrangers, composers, singers, teachers and organizers from all over Europe to join the project partners’ representatives. The three-and-a-half days conference has three main themes:

  • What’s already out there? Analyzing the European vocal music infrastructure by best practice examples, musical presentations, expert panels and the collective building of a European vocal music map
  • What’s the challenge? What’s in it for me? Discussing the trials and tribulations, the joy and the satisfaction of singers, conductors and organizers in their everyday business as well as presenting a toolbox for vocal music activists
  • Shaping the future of European vocal music. Introducing innovative ways of singing together. Reviewing LEOsings and taking networking to the next level

 
P1210317
EVA offers non-project partners to participate at the conference for a special fee of EUR 150 plus catering expenses. The fee includes all lectures, workshops and performances of the LEOsings session. On Saturday, 7th of March, we offer concert tickets to the album launch concert of one of the finest European jazz and pop choirs, Jazzchor Freiburg, conducted by Bertrand Gröger. (ticket price: EUR 20)

If you are interested in an intense experience and exchange with top vocal music teachers and organizers, this is an opportunity you don’t want to miss. Just download the info and registration documents via EVA’s website and feel free to contact the following people if you have questions:

See you in Freiburg!

 

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A Vocal Music Database Exchange Format

11. September 2013 Keine Kommentare

by Volker Bauer, A Cappella Online and Treasurer of The European Voices Association

Volker Bauer - business portrait

Introduction

I’m dealing with vocal music related data for quite a while now. It started back in 2002 when I wrote a web based administration backend for CASA to maintain addresses, groups, memberships and the famous arrangement library, followed by a full integration of the www.casa.org website in 2004.

Main goal for me was to link as many information together instead of keying it in multiple times.

In the following years I developed this approach for my own website project (www.acappella-online.de) also, in first place in my own PHP system, in 2007 replaced by a system based on Drupal.

The main challenges I faced every single time were the following:

1)    How to link what data together to avoid as much (inconsistent) data input and generate maximum value for the reader?

2)    How do I encourage groups and agencies to provide their data for my records?

 

For 1) it was beneficial that I’m writing software for ages and I know quite well how to normalize data to avoid redundancy. In addition I checked other websites with such information and analysed what were the missing pieces, pitfalls and other circumstances that makes is difficult to deal with the data.

Just two examples in the following:

-       if the group names are mentioned just in the description of the event, you cannot generate a list of concerts of that group.

-       if the location is not given, you cannot search for events in your region

 

For 2) it is important to understand that group already have a lot of places in the www they have to maintain. Think about the group’s website, Facebook, twitter, MySpace, YouTube and more. Why the heck should they key it in another time on my page??

I solved that problem in the beginning in way that needed a lot of individual programming: As in those days most of the websites were manually programmed and usually just having simple HTML structures, I wrote Site grabbing robots that visited the concert schedule pages of the groups, extracted the event data and pushed into my database.

As this approach was not maintainable with a growing number of Group Sites I decided to stop it when I moved to my Drupal driven page.

The now remaining argument (coming back to my initial question) why people should maintain data on my platform is: it has a high visibility in the scene and at Google and other search engines.

 

Having read this you may ask: “And?? What’s the problem of this guy now???”

I can tell you what it is: in our global world of the Internet nothing is local or regional anymore. People from the US and Asia are visiting European vocal festivals (and vice versa), groups touring worldwide, fans search for information more globally and much more. This means that the problem is not just how to convince people to key in data on the Website of vocal music in one (the home) country. In addition it is potentially worth to be present in the database of organizations representing the continent as well as global information stores for vocal music. (Honestly, this is not restricted to vocal music, but I personally will focus on it)

 

Status Quo

At the moment I’m designing the database and information store structures for EVA (european voices association), a non-profit organization to foster vocal music in Europe – see www.europeanvoices.org – and I see myself back facing my all-time favourite problems of data exchange as lined out above.

After thinking about it for a while I decided to do a 3 phase approach to nail it down:

1)    Write down the generic concept of a global data exchange format for vocal music data based on the analysis of needs in the user base

2)    Publish the concept and discuss it with organizations and website owners worldwide and finally decide on a format.

3)    implement it for EVA, potentially write data connectors/tools to be used by other website owners

 

Kicking Off Phase 1

What you usually do first when you start a software design is a stakeholder analysis to find out who is potentially interested the outcome of your project. If you are clear about your stakeholders, you get a much better view on the different angles the results will be looked at later and it helps you a lot during your requirement definition.

Let’s have a look at every single stakeholder to identify the expectation and derive the needs for the concept. I have focussed on mayor interests only to make the list not too long and too much diversified.

-       The Artist/Group

  • Wants to spread the word information and activities
  • Wants to find teachers and business partners

-       The Fan

  • Wants to get information about his favourite group
  • Wants to get information about activities in his area
  • Wants to get information about activities and groups when travelling
  • Wants to get information about organizations and festivals

-       The Teacher

  • Wants to spread the word about his offerings, skills and activities
  • Wants to get information about artists interested in his offering

-       The Company

  • Wants to spread the word about its offerings
  • Wants to get information about artists interested in its offering
  • Wants to get information about events to support, take part or offer services

-       The Organization

  • Wants to provide an as complete as possible view on their core interests in the area it covers
  • Wants to provide information beneficial to other stakeholders

-       The Media

  • Wants to get information about interesting activities to publish

 

If you drill those needs down you can see that the basics can be categorized into 2 types of information: Address and Calendar

Address Calendar
Group Information
Group Event Group Event
Teacher Information
Workshop Workshop
Booking Agency
Event/Group Management
Recording Studio
Equipment vendor
Festival Festival
Organization
School
  Media Appearance
 

 

Only the area of media (CDs/DVDs/MP3/…) is not represented in one of the 2 main buckets. In addition I have to say that fur sure the for example the group information consist of much more than the address, but the address is an important part.

If we have a look at the identified data blocks in the first go, it seems quite simple and straight forward. We can put them all in an address database and a calendar and we are done. But this is valid for the first look only. If you dig a bit deeper you can identify the 3rd important component needed: linking information.

What does it help if I have the group information and not having it linked to the concerts of the group? Would I have to key in the Group information for every single event? What does it help to have a festival listed and not being able to list the concerts and workshops during that Festival? Linking information is the key!

Below an exemplary link list between data objects:

Object Link Object
Artist/Group Represented by Booking Agent
Artist/Group Represented by Management
Concert Performed by Artist/Group
Concert Happens at Festival
Workshop Held by Teacher
Workshop Happens at Festival
CD/DVD Recorded by Artist/Group
Web Link Shows Artist/Group

 

With this information I’m able to design the basic data model with all the information to be exchanged, BUT:

The creation and transport of data is not the biggest challenge!

The biggest challenge in that environment is the definition of uniqueness and the so called “leading system”.

To illustrate the problem imagine the following situation:

There is a Group XYZ added into a database in the US. At the same time a group XYZ is added into a database in Europe. What defines the valid entry? Is that the same group or two different groups? In case it is the same group, what do we do if in both places changes were made? What change is the correct one? In case they are two different groups, how do we make sure that the events attached to the US group XYZ are not moved to the European XYZ when a data transfer of concerts between both databases takes place?

Honestly I haven’t found the golden bullet yet. There are multiple possibilities I will think through during the further development of the concept, just as a heads-up a few possible approaches:

-       One big global central database acting as the master and everything is added and edited there and just the output will be provided to the local databases.

-       Globally defined unique identifiers per database instance to identify the source of information and to make sure to update the right record

-       Clear matching criteria to identify duplicates. Clear process to handle those exceptions, like: no overwrite of duplicate and alert importing party about the duplicate.

-       Mark imported data (origin other than own data) as read only. Updates can only be made on the source side.

-       Enable the owner of information (e.g. the group) to decide what database holds their “master” of data.

Have one global database instance doing the importing, consolidating and data clensing. This database is used as the communication master (upload to master to this DB only, download to local DBs from this DB only)

-       The group(s) maintain the data on their own website, are able to provide the data in the exchange format (RSS newsfeed-like) and register this feed with all other databases (CASA, EVA, Festivals, … ) where they want this data to be present

Ok – let’s make it happen. This is definitely not a one man show. I see it as an effort of the community and I invite everybody interested to become a part of this journey. May it be as a contributor to the fields needed in the database, objects of interest I forgot to include. May it be as a potential stakeholder I missed and explain what you see as your explicit needs and benefits. I’m open to any comment, any help and support to make this happen.

I will now start writing down the object structures in detail as the basis for further discussion.

To summarize the advantages and benefits if we get this off the ground:

  • Maintain once, but be present in multiple places. Reduces a lot of effort for groups, artists, teachers, website owners
  • Exchange of information and datamining for the big organizations and websites. With this concept it is possible to generate the most complete data pool EVER for vocal music.
  • Useful information filtering or searching/finding as all data using this format have a guaranteed data quality and content. All interested people can search their area, their country or region.
  • Potentially also better usability across the participating platforms as with similar datastructure must likely the access to the data is comparable too.

All in all there are tons of benefits for all of us beeing in the vocal music scene and it will allow us to reach a level of service for the community we never had before (and maybe no other art form has).

Feel free to get in contact with me in case you want to comment, participate, help or just give some input to incorporate in this piece of work. You can reach me at volker@europeanvoices.org

Volker

 

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My Favourite Real Group Festival Moments

by Florian Städtler, Vocal Blog

“A life-changing experience” – this was only one of the enthusiastic descriptions of the 2nd vocal music festival hosted by The Real Group in their hometown Stockholm. Can three festival days in the Swedish capital change your life? How comes that even seasoned professionals could be seen wiping a tear at The Real Group Festival’s improvised closing ceremony? Why do people accept a lot of little glitches by the mostly volunteer organization although they spend a significant amount of money to travel, sleep and take part in workshops and concerts? And why do a cappella people seem to hug each other at every possible opportunity?

I’m going write another blog post about the things that we can learn from The Real Group Festival, to maybe end up with an even better festival experience. But right now, I would like to give my dear readers (those who joined the Stockholm extravaganza and those who couldn’t make it this time) a very personal explanation, why I enjoyed this festival so much and was one of those who had to wipe away a tear when the celebrations reached its climax in Eric Ericsson Hall. So here are my favorite Real Group Festival moments:

1. Stockholm, capital of Sweden: This city is certainly one of the most beautiful capitals of the world. Friendly, clean, safe and with people who make a very relaxed and open-minded impression to visitors. Even a heavy rain shower right when I had to find my way from “Centralstation” to my hotel couldn’t spoil the positive impression of the Swedish capital.

2. The Opening Concert (1), Postyr Project: Maybe the 5 Danes who started their journey of “ecappella” (vocal music fused with electronic music) less than 2 years ago haven’t even realized how quickly they have become both the darling of the festival hosts and highly praised vocal music teachers. Not a dream, Line, Tine, Anders, Andreas and Kristoffer: But certainly an obligation to keep pushing the borders of vocal music.

Christine Liu (Voco Novo) with Florian Städtler (Vocal Blog)

3. The Opening Concert (2), Voco Novo: My personal discovery of TRGF2012. A Cappella music from Taiwan? Vocal music from Asia? Fasten your seat belts, ladies and gentlemen. When our friends from the East do something, they do it 100%. And they have learnt very, very quickly that their true strength is not copying the American or European groups, but finding their own voice. You can’t out-realgroup The Real Group anyway.

4. Watching Jim Daus Hjernoe: Jim is not only an exceptional teacher of rhythmic choral music, a professor and a member of the European Voices Association core team. As if that wasn’t enough, he just looks damn’ good. As the Danish answer to George Clooney and a colleague of Bobby McFerrin the number of his disciples is constantly growing. Watch this space for more news on the latest vocal music edu news – you can be sure that Jim is pulling some of the strings.

5. Meeting acafriends from other continents: Yes, there are people who fly many thousands of miles to be part a three-day event and – judging from their happy smiles, perpetual hugging, Facebook posts etc. – they don’t regret having booked the trip to Stockholm. Judy Fontana (USA), Kari Francis (USA), Jonathan Minkoff (USA), David Longo (USA), Paul Jay (CAN), Christine Liu (Taiwan), Catherine Liu (Taiwan), Bill Hare (USA) and a vocal group leader from Venezuela (who ran out of business cards) are only a few of those long-distance a cappella travelers.

6. Meeting Jeff Meshel (ISR): Jeff Meshel, well, what can I say. I have not known his work as a music journalist and publisher for too long. However I’ve completely fallen in love with his blog and writing style. His knowledge about jazz is almost scary. And his enthusiasm for authentic music and authentic vocal music easily made him part of the Stockholm aca-family. The intense talk about the global development of what Jeff calls “The New A Cappella” (in a restaurant on a ship next to Skeppsholmen island, close to the festival center) was a 2-hour deep-dive into the worldwide phenomenon of vocal music. Can’t wait to continue this conversation.

"Swingle Singers?" "Bello impossibile" - Erik Bosio (Cluster) with Florian Städtler (Vocal Blog)

7. The Swingle Singers, live in concert: It’s hard for me to be objective, so I won’t even try. The Swingles have been part of my musical and agent’s life for a decade now. And I love them. No…after the performance at China Teatern (after Rajaton, no big deal, really…), I believe in the NEW Swingle Singers and I am proud of the seven of them. The current line-up sings originals. They have the best soloists the group ever had. And when it counted (a gig at TRGF is more or less one of the most important showcases on planet a cappella), they delivered what David Longo called “the perfect set”. If there were any doubts about the Swingles going to have a glorious 50th anniversary year in 2013, they wiped them away with musical perfection (“Clair de Lune”, “Libertango”) and world-class entertainment (“All the Swingle Ladies”, “Diva”) that proved that this group belongs to the champions league of vocal music.

8. The Story of Perpetuum Jazzile: It was one of these tough choices you have to make when attending a jam-packed festival. Should I see Jim Hjernoe’s vocal rhythm workshop or do I want to get the inside scoop of the YouTube wonder with the strange name? I chose Bostjan Usenik’s workshop on the success story of Slowenian pop choir Perpetuum Jazzile. Their story, the story of 55 (amateur) singers going viral on YouTube with one of the unjazziest and covered-to-death songs in the world – Toto’s “Africa” – is as unbelievable as the fact that they use the word “Jazz” in their group name and have as of today not only appeared in major European TV shows, but tour Germany with the support of the country’s most prominent tabloid newspaper and national TV channel SAT1. The funny thing is: Bostjan wasn’t really able to explain WHY it all happened as it happened. But one thing became very clear. He and his team worked very, very hard and for a very long time.

The Stockholm Vocal Jog #1 team

9. The Stockholm Vocal Jog was a triple success. Despite the completely unrealistic starting time of 7:30am, both the Friday and Saturday Vocal Jog was well attended – six heroes on Friday, five Vocal Joggers on Saturday. The real surprise was a single jogger who for years had only laughed at me and told me that “one can only run from something” (or for something…that something being pudding, chocolate etc.), the Swingle Singers “alto, arranger and party planner” Clare @dinkyswingle Wheeler. Wheelie, you made me smile before, but  this time, it’s special. Keep on running, we can’t wait until you join us!

10. The EVA Open Meetings: The European Voices Association (EVA) was founded on the 1st of January 2012. And it was time to get the movers and shakers from all over Europe on board. In two meetings a great number of interested people who represented the whole variety of European vocal music gathered: Singers in vocal groups and choirs, conductors of classical, jazz and pop choirs, representatives of national vocal music institutions and friends from similar organisations like Vocalasia and CASA (Contemporary A Cappella Society, USA). Volunteering needs motivation – here you are. The EVA board went home with lots of new ideas to be thought about and homework to be done. NOTE (1): EVA needs members! You can become one for 60 EUR per year via www.europeanvoices.org – welcome and thanks for your support! NOTE (2): EVA needs volunteers, e.g. benefit scouts, fundraisers, EU funding specialists, PR experts, researchers etc. etc. Apply via info@europeanvoices.org if you want to contribute and share!

11. The Real Group: “Define The Real Group”, I asked the members of the Vocal Blog Facebook group. And nothing happened. It’s hard to put in words what five Swedish singers have achieved for themselves and the vocal music community in more than 25 years. Authenticity. Openness. Curiosity. Approachability. Innovation. Modesty. Genius. Empathy. Charisma. Humanity. Inspiration. Role Models….all of this is true, but it only partly describes the work of art that now inspires a new, self-confident and competent generation singers, conductors, arrangers, composers and producers. Maybe we just shouldn’t solve this mystery and simply enjoy the beauty and the kindness we see and hear. And stay curious. Forever curious.

A big thank you to TRGF team, who made this event possible. And for all the beautiful moments that linger on and made our love of singing in groups even stronger. See you at the London A Cappella Festival in January 2013.

Florian Städtler is an agent, blogger and vocal music lover from Freiburg Germany. He is founder of Vocal Blog, Acappellazone and Chairman of the Board and co-founder of the European Voices Association.

European Voices Association Open for Membership Now

Press release by www.europeanvoices.org, as of May 24th, 2012

The recently founded European Voices Association (EVA), a cultural and educational non-profit organisation working for the development and exchange in vocal, a cappella and choral music, has announced that it is now open for membership application via the organisation’s website www.europeanvoices.org.

Founded by vocal music activists from Sweden, France, Germany and Denmark, EVA has laid down its principles in the European Voices Manifesto, a document that was signed by more than 80 musicians, teachers, composers and non-profit organisers to create new opportunities for the growing vocal music community in the countries of the European Union.

“We want to make people aware of each other”, says Peder Karlsson, former member of the groundbreaking Swedish vocal group The Real Group, to describe the important role of international exchange, that is one part of the Manifesto. Karlsson (now headmaster of the vocal music online school “The Real Academy”) as well as Jim Daus Hjernoe, professor at the renowned Aalborg Conservatory in Denmark and Tilo Beckmann, vocal coach and founder of Germany’s first vocal group ever, 6-Zylinder, also stand for another central EVA goal: To improve musical education for vocal groups, choirs, composers and arrangers.

EVA kick-off meeting at Aarhus Vocal Festival, May 2011

 

EVA’s German Chairman of the Board, Florian Städtler, emphasizes the importance of teamwork and involvement of as many local, regional and national activists: “This organisation will have a decentral structure: The practical work like concerts, workshops, seminars and making music together will always be a local and regional thing.” Along with his board colleagues Peter Martin Jacob (Germany), Céline Morel (France) and Volker Bauer (Germany) he now hopes to “welcome members from all European Union member states” until the first annual meeting at The Real Group Festival in Stockholm (August 16-19, 2012)

“For an annual fee of 60 Euro, you can be part of a pioneering project, that will promote vocal music on three domains: Information, education and networking”, states Volker Bauer, EVA’s treasurer. Becoming a member is possible via the association’s website www.europeanvoices.org. “Right now,” adds French festival organiser Céline Morel, “the organisation is young and has to develop programmes and growing benefit for its members: However, it’s vitally important that we get the support from new members now. And it’s so exciting to be part of such a groundbreaking international project.”

The fascinating variety and richness of the European festival scene has shown that bringing people from different cultures and with various musical background together can create a climate of creativity, tolerance, openness and understanding.The steady growth of the vocal music community seems to prove the fact, that singing is a basic human need.

“What’s more,” says Peder Karlsson: “Again and again I experience that singing in groups simply brings out the best in people.”

 

European Voices Association e.V.

c/o SpielPlanVier, Kartäuserstraße 14, 79102 Freiburg, Germany

phone: +49 761 38 94 74, e-mail: info@europeanvoices.org

www.europeanvoices.org

www.facebook.com/europeanvoicesassociation

European Voices Association founded

by Vocal Blog founder and EVA Chairman of the Board, Florian Städtler

 

 

 

I only realized after the eventual legal registration on December 20th 2011, how long the EVA idea had been cooking. Since the idea of a European vocal music network emerged, a self-appointed “core team” of seven people worked on this project. To give you an impression how this all came about and to motivate you to get involved, here’s the EVA story as a glimpse of the bigger picture.

April 2009
Holger Wittgen, promoter of The Vocal Jazz Summit, Mainz, asks Florian Städtler to plan and set up a live meeting place at the festival’s main venue. To promote this, Florian founds Vocal Blog as a web 2.0 communication platform and a live market place.

October 2009
At the Vocal Jazz Summit, two panels are being held, which discuss the state of affairs of the European and German a cappella scenes. Participants: Volker Bauer, Peder Karlsson, Tobias Hug, Tilo Beckmann, Peter Martin Jacob and Florian Städtler. The idea of a pan-European vocal music network is born.

Polyglot midnight snacks at Tobi's kicked off this session

January 2010
During the premiere of the London A Cappella Festival, Peder, Tobi and Florian work for one full day at Tobi’s Hackney flat, discussing the basic topics of the planned organisation. This dicussion is being followed up by Florian, Tilo and Peter at the Kulturbörse Freiburg two weeks later.

February & April 2010
Workshop meetings in Mannheim and Frankfurt. The team decides to define the purposes and goals of The European Voices Association in an online document that can be signed by supporters: The European Voices Manifesto. A systematic research of existing a cappella infrastructure and “people, who get things done” is being started.

A happy EVA core team after a great meeting in Ludwigshafen

September 2010
Team meeting in Ludwigshafen. Jim Daus Hjernoe joins the core team. The results of the research are impressive, even though many European countries not being researched yet. The details of the Manifesto as well as the three main areas of activities (Volker’s “three bubbles”, doc can be found in this workspace) are being defined.

December 2010
The European Voices Manifesto, signed by approximately 60 movers and shakers from all over Europe goes online at the preliminary website www.europeanvoices.net.

 

May 2011
At Aarhus Vocal Festival, 60+ vocal music activists gather on Monday morning, 9am (after the final festival party night…) to learn more about what this EVA thing is all about. The model of a preliminary executive board (PEB: Volker, Peter, Florian) and an advisory board that gives feedback to guide the

The Aarhus kick-off meeting participants

trio above is established. The PEB is assigned to prepare the legal foundation of the association including the articles and the foundation meeting.

December 2011
Volker, Peter, Peder, Florian, Céline Morel (jumping in for Tobi, who forgot about this little trip to Japan ), Tilo and Jim have signed the founding documents and the PEB registers EVA as a German “Verein” on the 20th of December 2011. The seven founding members had previously elected Florian as chairman of the board, Peter as deputy chairman and Volker as treasurer.

The deed is done - EVA founded!

So that’s what happened since Holger Wittgen asked me to set up some sofas, a coffee machine and WiFi to host Vocal Jazz Summit guests – isn’t it wonderful? I’m so much looking forward to your feedback, your ideas and inspiration to build something unique and very inspiring. Thanks to the fabulous core team for all your time and dedication – sorry to say that the real work has just begun!

Currently, interested and interesting people have been invited to become members of the Advisory Board, we expect to get a lot of input, which will be included in the EVA roadmap 2012 (Feb 15th). If you want to be involved in the pioneering phase of EVA’s development, feel free to get in touch with me via info@vocal-blog.net – we love to get your feedback, too.
Best wishes and Happy New Year – let’s make 2012 an EVA year!

FSt
Florian Städtler
EVA chairman

www.europeanvoices.net

P.S. Like EVA on Facebook!