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Artikel Tagged ‘Festival für Vokalmusik Leipzig’

Leipzig 2012 Revisited (2): Cadence Interview

via Festival für Vokalmusik Leipzig (GER), from the festival programme book 2012

Leipzig’s a cappella festival is a true work of art – for many years this 10-days event has presented almost every vocal star you can imagine from Bobby McFerrin to The Real Group and The King’s Singers. Hosted by Germany’s pride in classical a cappella, amarcord, the 2013 programme is fantastic as always presenting Sjaella (GER), Graindelavoix (BEL), Postyr Project (DEN), Orlando Consort (UK), The Magnets (UK), Huun-Huur-Tu (Tuwa), Latvian Voices (LAT), Naturally 7 (USA) and as the traditional opening concert, amarcord themselves. Yes, this is only ONE festival…

But before we will introduce you to this year’s line-up, we want to look back to the 2012 edition. Leipzig’s programme book is as premium as the festival and its founders and included interviews with every group performing at the festival. Vocal Blog is happy to present a series of interviews with the 2012 vocal groups who came to Leipzig and haven’t been featured on the blog yet. Thanks to Friederike Frieler and Wolfram Lattke for sharing this with the a cappella community.

The first in this series is an interview with members of the Canadian jazz and swing virtuosi, Cadence.

First, please introduce us to your group: How and when did the group form?

We are Cadence.  Four Men. Four Microphones.  No Instruments!  Our group formed out of Toronto’s York University in 1998.

 

With only four singers your group is comparatively small, but your goal is to push a cappella music to new heights. Was this the main goal when starting Cadence and did you deliberately decide to go as a four-piece for your mission?

Cadence has always been four men.  When you hear Cadence live, or on CD, you’ll be convinced you’re hearing more than four voices.   This is due to the advanced arrangements the that group write themselves.  Sometimes it is a challenge to fill out the sound of our songs with only four voices, but we are constantly working to push the boundaries of what a quartet of voices can do.

 

Actually, there’s no doubt about the success of your group since you’ve been entertaining crowds all over the world and received various prizes for your records. From all the things you’ve achieved so far, which are the ones you’re especially proud of? And what are your goals for the future, which boundaries are still to be blown up?

We all value our achievements in different ways.  Whether it’s singing along side 10-time Grammy award winner Bobby McFerrin, singing in Hollywood films featuring actors like Kevin Spacey, Jon Lovitz, Kelley Preston, or playing with 6-week old white Bengal tigers while working with the Discovery Channel, we all enjoy these experiences. Cadence is looking forward to a busy year of travelling where we hope to educate and inspire audiences with the possibilities of the human voice.

 

Why did Cadence choose a mainly jazz/swing sound outfit? Was it mainly a matter of personal taste or does it simply provide you with a wide musical field to operate in?

Jazz allows Cadence to show that with only four voices, you can still create amazing harmonies.  While performing for over a decade, the group has mastered a variety of genres, but the underlying flavor has primarily been jazz.  Over the recent years, the group has decided to focus more in this direction.

 

All members of the group do also play at least one instrument (in most cases a lot more…). Hand on heart: Do you prefer singing or playing instruments and why?

One of the great things about vocal music is the connection we get from singing together. We don’t need instruments to make that happen only our own voices so we always have our music with us.

All of the members of Cadence are multi-instrumentalists.   Between us we play the saxophone, trumpet, trombone, drums, guitar, bass, ukulele, and many more.  Even though we can make all these instrument sounds with our voices, we never stop loving to play the actual instruments we imitate.

 

Which musicians, composers and arrangers do inspire you and why?

People assume that because we sing a cappella, that’s our favorite music to listen to.  But Cadence listens to all kinds of music.  Our inspiration comes from a variety of sources.  People like Bobby McFerrin, Stevie Wonder, Steely Dan, and styles such as classical, rock, pop, jazz and gospel!

Amarcord’s Wolfram Lattke and Felix Krause with their festival BMW

We’re just curios: Will you prepare some kind of “best of” for the concert in Leipzig or we will hear mainly newer songs, especially from the “Speak Easy” album?

Cadence continues to sing songs from “Frost Free” 2000, “Twenty For One” 2005, and “Speak Easy” 2010, so audiences can expect an eclectic mix of tunes. In this sense we will be performing a collection of our favourites.

 

You recently also released a holiday album called “Cool Yule”. What was the idea behind it and what meaning does this album have to you?

Fans, friends, and family have been asking for a holiday album for years.  We all chose songs that remind us of that time of year.  Our goal was to create a winter album anyone can play over the holidays for years to come.

 

What can people expect from a typical Cadence concert?

A typical Cadence concert is an interactive and engaging experience. Rather than just singing at you, expect us to involve the whole audience in the music. You’ll also hear our usual variety of vocal instrument sounds which gives us many musical ingredients to draw from.  We’ll put a smile on your face, a tear in your eye, we’ll get your toes tapping before we say goodbye.

 

Is there some kind of ritual before going on stage, which is indispensable for your ensemble?

Cadence performs as many as 140 shows a year.  We each prepare for concerts in our own way, but in the end, we all come together to give audiences something to remember!

Have you visited Vocal Blog’s Facebook fanpage and group? Do you follow Vocal Blog on Twitter? Have you been shopping at Acappellazone? And have you ever immersed in the a cappella video pool (600 vocal music and counting) at www.youtube.com/acappellazone? Let us know what you like most, what’s still missing and what other great sources there are for contemporary, rhythmic a cappella! {FSt}

 

Leipzig 2012 Revisited (1): AudioFeels

via Festival für Vokalmusik Leipzig (GER), 2012

Leipzig’s a cappella festival is a true work of art – for many years this 10-days event has presented almost every vocal star you can imagine from Bobby McFerrin to The Real Group and The King’s Singers. Hosted by Germany’s pride in classical a cappella, amarcord, the 2013 programme is fantastic as always presenting Sjaella (GER), Graindelavoix (BEL), Postyr Project (DEN), Orlando Consort (UK), The Magnets (UK), Huun-Huur-Tu (Tuwa), Latvian Voices (LAT), Naturally 7 (USA) and as the traditional opening concert, amarcord themselves. Yes, this is only ONE festival…

But before we will introduce you to this year’s line-up, we want to look back to the 2012 edition. Leipzig’s programme book is as premium as the festival and its founders and included interviews with every group performing at the festival. Vocal Blog is happy to present a series of interviews with the 2012 vocal groups who came to Leipzig and haven’t been featured on the blog yet. Thanks to Friederike Frieler and Wolfram Lattke for sharing this with the a cappella community.

The first in this series is an interview with Jaroslaw Weidner, singer with the Polish vocal group AudioFeels.

 

Audiofeels’ Jaroslaw Weidner

First of all, would you please introduce us to your group: How and when did the group form?

The group was established in 2007. We were singers of Adam Mickiewicz University Choir, when our conductor suggested to basses and tenors, to prepare one special song for the annual New Year’s Concert in Poznan. About twelve men from our choir, including us of course, arranged a song and performed it during the concert. The strong audience reaction made us think: How about singing more songs in an all-male ensemble? How about doing it seriously, more professional?

 

The concept of AudioFeels is to create the complete sound of a band by imitating all instruments and sounds with your voices (Vocal Play). How does one acquire and adopt the sound and the “language” of an instrument?

The best way to create a veritable vocal-sound of an instrument is to improvise. Trying, rehearsing, giving a sound to the microphone, listening to it in front of a speaker, recording, and of course – listening to the original sound of an instrument.

 

You met at Adam Mickiewicz University Choir, but had to leave the choir after you started AudioFeels. Why exactly were you dismissed?

Dismissed is not an accurate term. After our first small performance, we were talking a lot about our future, we were writing new arrangements, rehearsing, testing microphones. Finally we came to a point, where we posed ourselves a question: what should we do, to have enough time to do it for real? The only way to sing on a professional level in a small ensemble was to focus exclusively on this particular ensemble. We decided to leave the choir.

 

Your group consists of eight persons – that seems to require discipline and a good management of how to share all the work. Do you write songs and arrangements together? Is there someone who is the conductor while rehearsing? Who takes over which task in the group?

Indeed, it requires discipline and some management skills, but not more than in other groups. Mostly, Marek Lewandowski and and I write arrangements for our group. Sometimes we improvise, we try to „jam” and arrange songs during rehearsal. We do not have a conductor. We switch our functions and tasks. We have very natural division of competence – the one who writes the arrangement conducts reading and rehearsing of his arrangement. Simple and efficent.

 

Were there any songs or even sounds that you found a hard nut to crack to make them suitable for your concept?

All „contemporary”, electronic sounds like for example synthesizers are hard to imitate.

 

Audiofeels live in concert

Obviously you’re huge fans of rock and pop music. Nevertheless you can handle sounds of more classical instruments, too, like strings (as can be heard on ‘Lux Aeterna’ and ‘Bittersweet’, for example). Could you imagine doing a piece of classical music, too – something like Bach’s Brandenburg concertos or a string quartet by Beethoven? (These pieces may not be suitable for your line-up, so please take them as pure examples of classical music.)

Of course we can imagine doing a piece of classical music. We grew up on classical music, we listen to classical music all the time. A week ago we took part in an opera show, based on polish movie „Dzien Swira”. We perforemed there as a traditional „greek choir”, commenting thoughts and psychic of the main character. What’s more, we recently recieved invitations from Polish opera singers, to make a concert where they would sing solos, and we would do the orchestral background. We definitely want to try it!

 

You already toured throughout Poland, where your first album received a Gold record, too, and took third place in “Mam talent!” – have you already become rock stars in your home country?

It is not a question for us to answer. You should probably aks audiences in Poland. Vocal music is and always will be a very sophisticated and rather alternative genre of musical expression. It will never touch the mainstream. If someone wants to become a pop star, performing in an a capella group is not the easiest way to achieve it.

 

Please tell us something about your new album that consists of cover songs as well as original songs by members of your group. What were your goals with the new cd?

Our new album is called UnFinished. It consists of 2 CDs, one with covers and one with our original compositions. From the begining we wanted to write our own songs. For us it is a normal and natural consequence of forming a vocal group. Nevertheless all the time we listen to all kinds of music – pop, rock, jazz, hip-hop etc. We are inspired by different music genres and we liked some of the songs, that we listened to so much, that we decided to write arrangements and include them on our album.

 

The album is called “UnFinished” – are we to conclude that this isn’t yet the end of the road you’re travelling on? What are your next goals?

Our second album is called UnFinished because it is just another stage in our evolution. He have numerous ideas how we can use our voices in different, unusual situations. We are still beginners, we have been singing as AudioFeels for 4.5 years until now. We try not to sum up our achievements, this project is still under permanent development.

 

What do you expect from your concert… your return to Leipzig?

We expect excellent atmosphere, great audience, nice and competent festival crew. Last year was a very special year for us in Leipzig. It was the first contest we took part in and fortunatley we did pretty well. We are very happy to have the honor to perform this year.

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Danke, Leipzig A Cappella!

by Florian Städtler, roving Vocal Blog reporter

time flies and it’s been already two weeks since Germany’s most prestigious vocal music festival “Festival für Vokalmusik Leipzig – A CAPPELLA” concluded with a fantastic final concert at Leipzigs Gewandhaus. I was invited to see the opening concert by festival founders amarcord as well as VOCES8‘s Leipzig premiere with a completely secular programme and the annual family concert featuring Austrian quartet Lalá. Some might remember my audacious plan to run my first full marathon on that particular Sunday. Well, it never happened, as I caught a bad cold which kept me from running the 42.2 kms, but allowed me to join the singers at the wonderful festival lounge on Saturday night, drowning my frustration with dark beer and Pelmeni.

The 10-day festival is a marathon for its organisers and the members of amarcord, too. They attend every single concert and probably needed a little holiday after the event. I must say, that I have been to quite a few international festivals recently, but Leipzig really impressed me. This festival stretches over 10 days with 11 concerts – which means that only very few a cappella addicts can be present during the whole festival. Still the event creates a strong community feeling, based on the long-term dedication of the five amarcord members and an outstanding hospitality. A wonderful pub called “The Telegraph” becomes the official festival lounge and so there is a meeting point for artists, fans, organisers, the whole Leipzig A Cappella festival family.

This little post is also a big, big thank you to Friederike Frieler and Wolfram Lattke, who invited me to come to Leipzig and see what they have created here. One particular masterpiece is the programme book, which offers the festival traveler detailled information and inspiration via interviews with all artists featured in concerts. I’m very happy to announce that from now on, these interviews will be posted bi-weekly on Vocal Blog – to make these wonderful portraits of the following groups available to the worldwide(web) public: VOCES8 (UK), Lalá (AUT), Heinavanker (EST), Nordic Voices (NOR), Kraja (SWE), Cap Pela (ESP), John Potter & Ambrose Field (UK), Audiofeels (POL), Cadence (CAN) and amarcord (GER).

Let’s start with an interview with VOCES8′s Paul Smith. Before you read the Q&A with Paul, who is the business director and baritone of the London-based octet, enjoy the little video teaser below. It features a mysterious bottle of gin from the Black Forest presented by amarcord’s Wolfram Lattke and expertly tested by VOCES8′s soprano Andrea Haines.

 

(Interview no. 1 from Leipzig A Cappella programme brochure, courtesy of www.a-cappella-festival.de)

Firstly, please introduce us to your group: How and when did the group form?

We’re VOCES8, an 8 part vocal ensemble from Britain. We started off just as a group of friends who loved singing together and, after winning awards in Italy and Spain in 2005 and 2006, we decided to turn professional. Since 2007 we have been singing about 100 concerts a year all over the world, and also leading a big education programme in the UK, USA and in France. We sing music from a wide selection of genres – and we know how lucky we are to have a job doing something that we all love!

There are a lot of influential, professional vocal groups in Great Britain (some have already been our guests, too). Which influence did groups such as The King’s Singers, Hilliard Ensemble, The Swingle Singers etc. have on you?

In the UK, there is a great heritage of vocal music, and we were certainly influenced by all of these groups as we grew up – in particular the King’s Singers. We are good friends with the King’s Singers and the Swingle Singers.  In creating our VOCES8 concept, we try to take inspiration from other top groups, but also create something which is new and unique. We think we perform our music with our own style and we try to build a connection with the audience that you would only find in a VOCES8 performance.

What do you consider as trademarks and typical qualities of British vocal groups?

In VOCES8, we try to create a very British sound, and wherever we go in the world, people always think we come across as being very British! As well as the sound world that we create, I think this also has something to do with our style of presentation and our own British sense of humour! When singing jazz and pop music, I think this sense of humour is very important.

Your concert in Leipzig will mainly feature songs from your album “Aces High” – jazz, swing and film music. Why did you decide to make an album with this style of music and what do you like about these songs (the most)? 

Whenever we think about making an album, we want to sing music that everyone in the group loves.  A central theme to the Aces High album is our James Bong medley – again, very British. We’ve paired this theme with some of our favourite jazz and swing tunes, and I think this makes for a classic a cappella album. There’s a real sense of a storyboard unfolding as you listen to the album, and we created the whole concept to flow from beginning to end – there is even a story to accompany the album in the CD notes! We are lucky to have a brilliant arranger called Jim Clements, and he wrote all of the arrangements on the album and even flew to California with us to record the album. For me, this is my personal favourite VOCES8 album, and we were thrilled when it was nominated for ‘Best Jazz Album’ at the 2011 CARA Awards in America.

Your latest release is a Christmas album, simply called “Christmas”. Please tell us something about this album and its meaning to you.

Christmas is a very special time for everyone, and with our Christmas album, we’ve tapped more into our classical choral heritage.  It’s a beautiful disc of acoustic a cappella which we recorded in Cambridge this year, and as well as some well known Christmas carols, there are a number of classical pieces which members of VOCES8 have grown up singing, but which may be a little less well known to some listeners.  There are two beautiful songs by a British composer living in Germany, Graham Lack, and I’m also a big fan of Nesciens Mater and the Magnificat Quinti Toni by Praetorius.

Although you’re quite young yourself, with “Voces Cantabiles Music” you quickly got involved in boosting musical activities and musical exchange especially with and between young people. How do you bring the music home to the youth and what are your goals with “Voces Cantabiles Music”?

At the festival lounge: Wolfram Lattke, Gereon Behrendt, Chris Wardle, Paul Smith (from left to right)

Voces Cantabiles Music is the name of our wide foundation, and our goals in VOCES8 are to inspire the next generation of young people through music. When we founded the group, I always wanted to place education at the heart of what we do, along with our concert performances. We now work with over 25,000 young people every year in long running programmes that inspire students to be creative, develop their musical abilities and learn how to work together in teams.  Making music is such a wonderful way to learn, and all of the members in VOCES8 were lucky to have amazing opportunities and scholarships as we grew up.  We love working and singing with young people, and want to give young people opportunities to fall in love with singing, and to explore how they can achieve their goals by working hard and dedicating themselves to whatever passions they have.

The members of VOCES8 all enjoyed a many-sided musical education in choirs, college, musical productions etc. Is Great Britain (still) a fertile ground for young singers or is the support of projects like “Voces Cantabiles Music” needed in most areas?

I think there are still many good places to study music in the UK, but, as with every country we have ever visited, there are also many students who don’t have opportunities – either because of the education system, because of social situations or because young people aren’t aware of opportunities around them.  We find that there are always more projects we would like to be doing, but, with just a small team of singers, we do everything we can to help people.  We have started a second a cappella group called Apollo5 to help with this aim.  We want to share our ideas with as many people as possible.

What do you associate with Leipzig? What do you expect from the city and the Festival of Vocal Music A CAPPELLA?

Presenting the main festival sponsor

We were thrilled to record the Motets of JS Bach in 2010, and this is certainly something we associate with Leipzig! One of my personal highlights in VOCES8 was singing the Motets from memory (in VOCES8, we sing most of our music from memory!) to a German audience at a Bach Festival.  There is such a strong heritage of outstanding music in Germany, and we are looking forward to spending more time in Germany in 2012 than we have in our previous years as a group.  I hope that the people of Leipzig will embrace the a cappella festival, and we are certainly looking forward to coming to the beautiful city of Leipzig, sharing our music with people who love a cappella and enjoying meeting lots of people and spending time getting to make new friends.

Is there some kind of ritual before going on stage, which is indispensable for your ensemble?

Every night before we go on stage we stand in our ‘circle of love’! This happens after our personal warm up and just before we go on stage. Each member of VOCES8 is able to make one point to the whole group for the concert that is about to happen, and we take the moment to focus our minds and prepare as a team for the stage.  It’s a little ritual we have now done in about 500 concerts together!

When your ensemble prepares a characteristic British meal together, what will there be as food and drinks? Could you perhaps tell us the recipe?

Let them eat cake, Andrea...

As we spend so much time on tour, we eat a lot of meals together, and we are about to spend 2 month in the USA on tour, so we will be trying not to eat too many hamburgers! Lots of members of VOCES8 like to cook, and Andrea (one of our sopranos) often brings delicious cakes to our rehearsals.

For drinks and a meal though, I think many of us would start with a very nice gin and tonic and some appetisers. I like to cook a traditional roast dinner – a lovely roast chicken is delicious. The key is to stuff the chicken with juicy lemon and lots of garlic, to use a generous quantity of herbs and seasoning, and to roast potatoes and vegetables. Roasted leeks, parsnips, carrots, sweet potatoes and lots of roasted garlic! Then, make sure the potatoes are beautifully crunchy, but soft on the inside. For the gravy, use the juice from the meat (with chicken – properly cooked through) as a base and also mix in the scrapings from the roasted vegetable dish to get lots of extra flavour! Wash this down with a wine of your choice (I would choose a nice glass of Chablis for this dish!). Follow this up with a sticky toffee pudding for dessert, and then with cheese and port to finish. In VOCES8, we love a very tasty meal together!!

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Festival Fever and a Vocal Jog XXL

by Florian Städtler, Vocal Blog chief listener and roving reporter

Always on the run...

If you’ve read my blog post about amarcord and their Festival für Vokalmusik Leipzig, you might be a bit envious of me, when I tell you that I’m going to spend 3 full days at one of the finest vocal music events in Germany and Europe. Tomorrow, 6:52am, a train is going to take me to Bach’s hometown and I’m looking forward to seeing two world-class, classical vocal ensembles performing live: amarcord (Friday, 20th of April), who traditionally have the privilege of opening the festival and VOCES8 (Saturday, 21st of April). For all of those who think “Why is it always that guy that gets invited to fantastic events like that?” I want to add, that on Sunday, 10am, I’m becoming a member of the festival team by running my first full marathon in Leipzig. Still jealous – well, if you want to join me, just do it: I will certainly find tickets for those concerts for everybody who will do the 42.2km Vocal Jog XXL with me ;-)

The Leipzig festival isn’t the right event for envious persons anyway: As it lasts 10 days and includes 10 concerts, only a very few people will be able to attend all the events. That’s why I thought it would be interesting to give you an impression of the variety and fantastic quality of the artists coming to the festival from 20th to 29th of April by the festival calendar and a collection of selected YouTube links. Please note, that some of the links I chose have nothing to do with the programme the groups will do in Leipzig. If you want to learn more about the festival programme, check out the festival’s website for more details. And of course the sound quality – as with 99% of all YouTube videos – has only little to do with how wonderful all of these groups sound live.

So if you have time and want to see some of the best vocal groups in the world as well as one of the most beautiful East German cities, check your calendar, book your trip and get your ticket to Leipzig. If you happen to be there this weekend let me know: I won’t drink too many beers in expectation of the upcoming Vocal Jog, but I surely need supporters to cheer me on. But for now, enjoy the YouTube preview of Festival für Vokalmusik Leipzig!

ensemble amarcord (GER), April 20th, 20:00, Gewandhaus Leipzig

 

VOCES8 (UK), April 21st, 20:00h, Theater-Fabrik Sachsen

 

LALÁ (AUT), April 22nd, 16:00h, Alte Handelsbörse

 

Heinavanker (EST), April 22nd, 20:00 Uhr, Thomaskirche

 

Nordic Voices (NOR), April 23rd, 20:00h Evangelisch-reformierte Kirche

(no video available – so they really want to be listened to by you live!)

 

Kraja (SWE), April 24th, 20:00h, Gewandhaus Leipzig

 

Cap Pela (ESP), April 25th, 20:00h, Theater-Fabrik Sachsen

 

John Potter & Ambrose Field (UK), April 26th, 20:00h, Peterskirche

 

BEING DUFAY (Ambrose Field, John Potter) – Dancity Festival 2010 from dancity on Vimeo.

 

Audiofeels (POL), April 27th, 20:00h, Werk II, Halle D

 

Cadence (CAN), April 28th, 20:00h, Schaubühne Lindenfels

 

Closing Concert, April 29th, 19:00h, Gewandhaus Leipzig

(too good to be captured on video – go and get your tickets now!)

 

This is the 13th edition of this amazing festival, which for all the people who work to make this happen (Thank you Friederike Frieler, Georg Manthey, Tobias Rosenthal and all those who I haven’t met yet) and for a first-time marathon man is a very lucky number. See you in Leipzig!

Florian Städtler is founder and chief editor of Vocal Blog. He runs SpielPlanVier, an agency which has specialised in international a cappella top acts, recently co-founded the European Voices Association (EVA) and if this wasn’t enough, he started the first professional European vocal music online shop Acappellazone in July 2011. Follow Florian/Vocal Blog via Facebook and Twitter or write an e-mail to info@vocal-blog.net.

 

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.