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Artikel Tagged ‘London A Cappella Festival’

From LACF to ACDA – Jess Hill’s Music Biz Report

Jess Hill portraitJess Hill,  Artist Manager, Ikon Arts Management

Coordinator, London A Cappella Festival & London A Cappella International Summer School



Jess, you have worked for London-based artist management company Ikon Arts for quite a while now and as an Artist Manager, you work for all kinds of musicians. What makes working for a cappella singers special?

For me, it’s the shared passion. In addition to instrumentalists and coordinating the London A Cappella projects, I work with The Swingle Singers (I think you might have heard of them…!) and early music vocal ensemble Stile Antico, both of whom have full-time touring schedules. I love the contrast – it allows me to spend my time talking passionately about Clemens non Papa, Byrd, Bach, Debussy, The Beatles & Mumford & Sons– and that’s all in one breath!  


The Exchange live at LACF2013

The Exchange live at LACF2013

Which brings us to your “a cappella baby”, the London A Cappella Festival. Can you sum up why this project has become so dear to you?

It’s been such a treat to work on the London A Cappella Festival (LACF) over the last 4 years. This January we’re looking forward to the fifth LACF and it’s amazing to look back and see how it has grown. The reason it has become so much more than a job to me is the reaction, support and love it has received from the worldwide a cappella community – it just wouldn’t be the same without it. We’ve been blessed with being able to invite some of world’s top headliners each year – just this January we welcomed (along with our co-hosts The Swingle Singers) groups such as The King’s Singers, Rajaton, The Magnets, Postyr, Retrocity and that’s before we start talking about the workshop leaders. Now the challenge is to top that next year – don’t worry, we plan to!


Lecture at LACF2013

Lecture at LACF2013

Actually the LACF will soon have a sibling. The London A Cappella Summer School (LACISS) sounds like a really innovative project in music education. Tell us a more about what the London A Cappella team has in store for singers from all over the world in August 2014!

We’ve teamed up with Kings Place & The Swingle Singers to create what we’re calling ‘an unforgettable vocal experience in the heart of London’.  Kings Place is a stunning arts complex right in the centre of London and so the perfect place for a cappella singers and fans to come and learn from the world’s finest a cappella folks whilst having a brilliant summer holiday with like-minded people. All we need now is for the British weather to be on our side…


One of the great things about artist management is the aspect of internationality. Does this mean that you have to travel a lot?

It is certainly an appreciated perk of a predominantly office job in the arts! And an important one too as the more we get ‘out and about’, the more of a finger we have on the pulse of the industry. Very recent highlights have included travelling to Dubai with the lovely Swingle Singers. This is a new territory for the group and ‘classical’ (in the loosest sense) music concerts are a new artistic territory for Dubai so a really exciting time to be out there. Another recent highlight must certainly be heading to the America Cantat VII was held in Bogota, Columbia.


We would love to learn more about your recent trip to what the international choir community calls the summit of choral music. Was the ACDA National Conference in Dallas, Texas worth the trip?

‘Summit’ is a fair description! And very much worth the trip. What an experience to see and meet so many singers, music fans, industry experts, artists, agents and promoters all in once place and on such a large scale.  Even as we got on the plane from London to Texas it was evident that the trip was going to be a winner as we were joined by the likes of former King’s Singers Phil Lawson & Bob Chilcott, ex-Swingle Ben Parry and  composer Roxana Panufnik and of course my lovely colleague Nicola Semple (who was there representing The Songmen)


There are a lot of showcases and of course many, many interesting people to meet. What were your special ACDA moments?

Wow – I could go on for ever! I won’t, I promise. The conference was a choral melting pot and as such there were endless opportunities to meet up with old friends and get to know new artists and industry experts. 


Phil Lawson at ACDA

Phil Lawson at ACDA

Highlights include an epic service where over a thousand people myself included belted out Vaughan Williams’s ‘Let all the world in every corner sing’ backed by a symphony orchestra; meeting a cappella students and tutors from universities across America; watching the frenzy created by Eric Whitacre arriving in his aviators; double denim efforts and hugely popular flashmob performances of The Songmen; Nicola’s navigation of a seven lane highway in an automatic and tasting beers named wonderful things like ‘Moose Drool’ with The Songmen & Phil Lawson.

Now back in London, what’s on your desk, what are you looking forward in 2013?

Golly what a question – my ‘desk’ is certainly piled high…

In addition to planning the LACISS, working on the artists’ tours and projects for this year and beyond, this year is a particularly exciting one as we’re in the midst of The Swingle Singers’ 50th Anniversary (as I’m sure you might have heard by now!). On my desk today is a touring project with Stile Antico, Carnegie UK Trust & harmonia mundi USA called ‘The Phoenix Rising’ and a project entitled ‘Michelangelo in Song’ performed by Sir John Tomlinson (what a voice!) and pianist David Owen Norris. Variety is certainly the name of the game at Ikon Arts. We’ve just had our annual LACF programming meeting where Costa (Director of Ikon Arts) and I sit down with the Swingles and brainstorm ideas for January’s festival. My job is to now go away and put together a festival so watch this space!


As they say, there’s no rest for the wicked….


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We are looking forward to staying in touch with you, Jess and the Ikon Arts team,

goodluck to you and to all your future projects – thanks for the interview!




London A Cappella Revisited (1)

27. Januar 2013 1 Kommentar

by Florian Städtler, Vocal Blog founder

My fellow blogger 1.0 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once cleverly remarked: „If I had had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.“ An anti-rambling manifesto, cast in granite.

The LACF2013 Vocal Joggers ran with one voice.



So for this blog post I have set myself the goal of keeping it very brief – LACF2013 in a nutshell. So here’s a different kind of „Vocal Blog on tour“ poetry meets math article.





A Cappella + Metropolis = LACF

LACF x 4 = rocket start

Start of the 21st century = Swingles 2.0

The Swingle Singers = LACF’s heart and soul

Soul Brother No. 1 = Alfredo „Fredo“ Austin

Tine + Line = ElectroEmotional Queens x (Hot + Cool)

Cool = London weather x understatement

Understatement = LACF was not exactly terrible

Terrible = London pubs closing time.

Time of my life = music + meeting + learning + exchange

The Exchange = party

Party animals = all Finnish people

People from all over the world = King’s Place foyer

Foyer concerts = vocal harmony and happiness

Happy maniac = Postyr’s Kristoffer

Christopher Diaz = Talk as talk can

Canned beer < bottled beer < draught beer

Beer from Britain = always an experiment

Experiments in Songwriting 2.0 = Postyr Project

Project 2013 = The Big Qs of A Cappella eBook

Booking agent for all of these groups = job of my dreams

Dream come true = King’s Singers + Swingle Singers

Single Singers = best community project ever

Everybody at LACF = open-minded, excited, friendly

Friends = Aca-family in the real world

World Champion of Hi-Heels (advanced level) = Clare Wheeler

Clare Wheeler = jazz + style + shoes + goosebumps

P.S. = I love you, London

London A Cappella Summer School = the future

Future = European festival network

Work = OMG, it’s almost Monday

Monday = 364 days until London A Cappella 2014!

I am a happy if slightly tired blogger today. And I’m about to miss my flight because I liked having breakfast with my dear friend Hans Cassa this morning. Follow Vocal Blog on tour via #VBontour or simply via my Twitter.

7 Last-Minute Tipps for London A Cappella Travelers

by Florian Städtler, Vocal Blog on tour (#VBontour)

Travelling abroad is a wonderful thing. But we all know these terrible hours before we actually leave. Packing your bags last-minute, checking your bus, train and flight connections and of course: Trying to get as much done on your real world or virtual desk as the clock ticks mercilessly.

This January has been particularly busy and getting all my things together for my fourth London A Cappella Festival trip was an incredible rush. But the stress of getting away from „normal life“ for a couple of days is absolutely worth while. Because of 7 things that no London A Cappella Festival visitor should miss:


  1. A proper English pub – LACF has an official (?) meeting place called „The Fellow“ (26-30, York Way), quite close to the festival venue „King’s Place“. There are two more fantastic places friends showed me on earlier London trips: The Princess Louise (208, High Holborn, tipp by Jes Sadler) and The Antilope” (24, Eaton Terrace, tipp by Costa Peristianis, Ikon Arts)
  2. The King’s Place foyer – the venue of Britain’s finest vocal music festival is a stylish and inspiring place only 8 minutes walk from King’s Cross. Its foyer, that during the first and second festival was a rather calm place has become a buzzing place of open singing, international encounters, workshops and a cappella networking. We recommend coming rather early before concerts and events: You might bump into people like Bill Hare or Amanda Aldag or see the occasional Swingle or King’s Singer talking to their audience in an extraordinarily relaxed and friendly way,
  3. Workshops – if you want to learn from your singers in some of the best vocal groups in the world or if you simply want to come to know these people a bit better, LACF festivals are a great opportunity to broaden your horizon. There’s plenty of information on the website and seminars from „Complete Vocal Technique“ (Tine Fris/Postyr, DEN) to „Melodyne“(Erik Bosio/Cluster, ITA)
  4. High Tea – you and your friends should book have a VERY British „tea ceremony“, preferably around Covent Garden. London prices, but – according to most LACF 2012 High Tea participants, an unfogettable experience,
  5. Shoes – you may ask how shoes became so important at LACF. Well, first of all, there are two very different kind of shoes: Fashionable, mostly ladies’ shoes (extreme high-heel competition included) and running shoes (see further below under „Vocal Jog“). Always promoting the LACF shoes catwalk are high-heel afficionados Clare Wheeler (alto and party planner with The Swingle Singers), Tine Fris (singer, composer, arranger, teacher, booker etc. etc. etc. with Postyr Project) and Annemarie Homann (co-founder of The Single Singers).
  6. The Single Singers – Annemarie Homann and Emily May t’Hoen are the driving forces behind an incredible international project of planned spontaneous collective singing. They planned to visit LACF 2012 and somehow didn’t want to just listen, but sing themselves. And so they looked for more singers who wanted to do the same…and had a spectacular premiere at the King’s Place foyer in January 2012.  They did it again at The Real Group Festival in Stockholm in August 2012 and there have been similar projects at US a cappella events lately.
  7. The LACF t-shirt – look at the beautiful people at King’s Place who sell merchandise and help you out if you have any questions about LACF. They wear the official LACF shirt, which can be ordered online via

With The Exchange – from Baltimore 2012 to London 2013

As a matter of fact, there are at least 77 more things you shouldn’t miss at LACF, e.g. the London A Cappella Festival iPhone app, now available via iTunes, Swingles Bass Edward Randell’s „Woofer“ project, a choir consisting of more than twenty basses, the 2nd LACF VocalJog on Saturday morning AND: Seeing my dear friends and US acappella shooting stars The Exchange again, supporting the Swingle Singers on Saturday night. Woohoo!

Stay tuned via the London A Cappella Website, via Vocal Blog’s Facebook group and fanpage and on Twitter, hashtags #LACF2013, #LACFextra, #VocalJog.

And now I have to run to get some smuggled Swiss goods to Islington: The Ikon Arts ladies need some doping for the upcoming challenges!

I’m Florian „Superman“ (quote all the Swingles Ladies), „The Hugh Hefner of A Cappella“ (quote FORK), „Uncle Flo“ (quote The Boxettes), „He runs Europe“ (quote Dave Sperandio) Städtler and I am a very modest man giving my humble thoughts via my global vocal music communication baby, the Vocal Blog. Call me maybe, baby.

10 People You And I Want to Meet at LACF 2013

by Florian Städtler, Vocal Blog

Happy New Year, everyone – I hope you had some nice relaxing holidays and are ready for another year of fantastic news for all of us vocal music afficionados. The first wonderful thing to happen every year is an event that most of us only refer to as LACF: The London A Cappella Festival, curated by The Swingle Singers and executed by their longtime partners in crime, Ikon Arts. In only four years, LACF has become a top-notch international festival, featuring artists like The Real Group, FORK, The Swingle Singers, Cadence, The Boxettes, Witloof Bay, The Vasari Singers in earlier years as well as a growing programme of workshops, panels and network activities.

This year’s line-up is quite spectacular in many ways, too: The Swingles inviting The King’s Singers shows the mutual respect between two groups who are both living legends and at the same time alive and kicking. Finally, one of Britain’s most successful live acts, The Magnets, have their LACF spot as well as Finnish vocal music stars Rajaton, who will spread their soundscapes of pop and Nordic music at King’s Place for the first time. And don’t forget the next generation: Postyr Project from Aarhus, Denmark with their blend of electronic and vocal music. The Exchange (USA), a five-part all-star band from NBC’s Sing-off supporting The Swingle Singers. Vive, one of the big hopes of young British vocal music. Retrocity from Canada with their mix of pop, soul and funk…you better get your tickets now at

With the first two articles about LACF2013, I would like to feature some people who I want to meet in London in person. Simply because I know that it will be fascinating to talk to them about their reasons for coming to London, about the festival’s artists and the development of vocal music in Europe, America and Asia. This first one is about what we might call “hidden champions”: People who work backstage, people who organize and network, people who care so much about the a cappella community that they travel from (very) far to see the concerts and meet their aca-friends. It goes without saying, that this is a very subjective selection and of course I could easily have titled this “101 People You and I…”. However, if you meet some of these featured, you will sooner or later bump into more inspiring, thoughtful and/or crazy a cappella people.

Here are the hidden champs I want to meet and talk to from Jan 24th-26th:

Alex Godfree (UK), because as the figurehead of Voice Festival UK, she is one of THE movers and shakers in the UK a cappella scene. Watch her on that little LACF2012 video greeting and check out Voice Festival UK’s brandnew website, Facebook page and Twitter.

Jeanine Rondas (BEL), because Jeanine is one of these people who have made a cappella their favourite thing. She probably knows more about vocal music in Europe than most of the “vocal music pros” around. Get to know her via Facebook and ask her anything about aca-travelling – she’ll have the dates, names and figures.

Andrea Figallo (Flying Pickets, Wise Guys) with Jeanine Rondas












Jessica Hill (UK), because her work with the Ikon Arts team makes LACF happen. Thank you! Watch Jessica, Nicola and Beccy in their LACF 2012 video greeting and check out Ikon Arts via Facebook and Twitter. (To meet these ladies during the festival buzz will be rather easy…talking to them will be much more difficult. #busybuddies

Yael Levin (ISR), because she (together with Yarden Cohen) seems to be very a cappella active in her home country – and I want to learn more about what happens over there regarding vocal music. Welcome to London, Yael – who else will be coming from Israel?

Yael meets Katarina Henryson (The Real Group) at The Real Group Festival 2012, Stockholm














Sven-Michael Salzer  (GER) – I’m actually not sure if “SMS” aka Festival-Sven will be joining us at LACF2013, but I do hope so. He is a member of the Hannover-based vocal group Essenzen and fell in love with another LACF2012 attendee – which means we have one more aca-couple. Here’s Sven’s Facebook and Twitter contact…ah, and by the way: Sven works as a manager of Hannover A Cappella Festival, one of the major vocal music events in Germany for more than a decade now.

Festival-Sven meeting Clare “Twitterqueen” Wheeler of The Swingle Singers









Michele Manzotti (ITA) – Michele, a journalist and writer based in Florence, Italy is one of the greatest Swinglesingerologists on the planet. Ask him a question about Swingle Singing and he will have the answer. He made his debut as a performing vocal artist joining the fabulous “Single Singers” (no typo; pun intended, find more on this project’s website) at LACF2012. Michele is such a great guy – chat him up if you can!


Michele Manzotti with his wife at LACF2012









Joan Hare (USA) - Well, what can I say about Joan? She is probably one of the most unique and wonderful people in a community that is not exactly poor regarding original personalities. Joan “A Cappella Mum” Hare actually is the mother of Bill Hare, the world’s no.1 vocal music producer (the list of his clients would make this blog explode). But Joan is much more: She’s a symbol of what makes this community so special, the figurehead of aca-love. You won’t be able not to meet her – and that’s perfectly fine.

Joan Hare (front right) with Sonia Kilianova…and Bill Hare









Hans Cassa (NED) - Is Hans a hidden champion or should he rather be mentioned in the next blog post, when the stars on stage will be featured? Difficult, because being a longtime member of Dutch a cappella pioneers Montezuma’s Revenge as well as a passionate “Single Singer“, aca-traveller, teacher and fan, he is a perfect example of how the border between pros and amateurs have no meaning at all at the great a cappella festivals . It’s the joy of music and good company. You will certainly meet Hans both at the “Festival Pub” called “The Fellow” and at the Premier Inn’s hotel bar. He’s not tweeting a lot, but anyway here’s his Twitter and Facebook contact.

Deborah Rosanwo (GER) – If you want to meet a passionate choir singer (with Bonner Jazzchor) and want to learn about the best things about Stockholm, Aarhus or other festivals in Europe, just ask Deborah. She seems to be online 24/7 and her posts are often real vocal music gems. I’m not sure, well, actually quite sure that Deb will be joining the “Single Singers” at their 1st anniversary gig at King’s Place. If you want to learn more about Deborah, see if she wants you as a Facebook friend and follow her on Twitter….if you can find her.

Deborah (on the right) with Bill Hare at The Real Group Festival, Stockholm 2012










Willy Eteson (UK)Richard “Willy” Eteson was The Swingles high tenor and business director for almost ten years. He is a passionate cook and deli expert. This passion culminates in an annual slaughter of a pig, executed (literally…) by Willy and some former choir boys. He married his beautiful wife Joanna Goldsmith-Eteson (don’t look into her eyes, you will both faint and Willy will consider you to become a delicate home-made sausage) on Copacabana beach (not kidding!) in Rio de Janeiro and they now live in Hackney, a part of London that will soon be as glamorous as Rio’s seaside. Meet Willy live and be prepared to be offered exceptional home-made delicacies. Meet him online and you will experience British humour and obscure fourth league football comments.

And now….! As I have left out dozens of other, equally nice, charming good-looking  and nice-smelling people: Who do you want to meet in London? Post your comments and I promise every single suggestion will be featured with a mini-portrait on the blog. Let’s introduce your personal LACF2013 star and meet them in the real world very soon!

I’m Florian Städtler, 42 (the answer to life, the universe and everything) a father of two wonderful daughters who can sing but don’t admit it. I studied electric guitar, became a marketing and event planning pro and finally decided to fall in love with a cappella (#Iloveyouall). Meet me, tweet me, facebook me, watch me, buy me, join me.

The Unofficial Edinburgh A Cappella Festival Report

by John Buchanan Lau, originally written and submitted on September 6th (apologies to not let you read this earlier)

There was a time when I did not look forward to the world’s largest Festival of the Arts being held every August in my city of Edinburgh, but I embraced it in the year 2007 when a friend of mine, who was a member of a collegiate a cappella group from Oxford University in England at the time, brought his annual show up to my town and to be honest I have never looked back since, not only in the context of arts and cultural things but more importantly, for the whole concept of vocal music.

In the subsequent years, my love for anything related to vocal music, choral music and a cappella music has exploded into one of the largest loves of my life, to the extent that I now have no hesitation in trying to unearth the gigs taking place involving all manner of groups when the world appears to come to Edinburgh every August.

In August 2012, I was delighted to take in no less than 14 different a cappella gigs, and some of them even twice (for one cannot get enough of a good thing), and while the maturity of groups can vary from young girls in high school, through collegiate a cappella groups to groups of collegiate alumnae who wish to continue a good thing to established acts who have provided the entertainment on a scheduled flight between Finland and China and undertaken world tours, there really is something to please the most avid a cappella fan in Edinburgh every August.  This is particularly so the case amongst the young, where the “Chacapella” group of high school girls from London were joined at the 3 gigs they had on their first Edinburgh run by the crème de la crème of the UK Collegiate a cappella scene.  And even the “Out Of The Blue” collegiate group from Oxford University managed to sell-out their 500-seat venue in Edinburgh every day in their 27-show run.

Of the 7 or so non-collegiate a cappella gigs I had the pleasure of going to, the majority of them were formed of individual members who have recently graduated from the collegiate a cappella scene

First up was the VOCAL ORCHESTRA group of 7 talented beatboxers from London brought together by the Beatbox extraordinaire Shlomo to reproduce a varied selection of tunes from rap to opera and everything In between.  A treat in more ways than one, this was a most colourful show, for all 7 members of the group were clad in a variety of bright colours and the vocal output was a sound to behold, or so I thought at the time.  I also quite enjoyed the time-machine sequence they put on towards the end of a most entertaining hour when they took the audience back with tunes such as Vivaldi’s “4 Seasons” and the Beatles.

Those of us who watch the US Serial drama programme “Scrubs”, will be aware of the group named THE BLANKS or “Ted’s Group” who enjoy singing a cappella music as well as put on sketch shows in reality.  So I was surprised to see this group in one of the bigger venues available here in Edinburgh.  In addition, the group has been on the go in reality for much longer than the “Scrubs” series.  So here we had an a cappella sketch show (an alien concept to me) with different twists and turns along the way to having them sign an imaginary contract that would have them sing on the moon or some other planetary location.  To their credit, most of their set list is based on their own stuff that they have written and they even produced their own rendition of Lazslo Bane’s theme tune to Scrubs which sounded great as well.

The first of the non-collegiate a cappella gigs I was looking forward to was THE MAGNETS who at the time I was destined to see them had yet to be confirmed as appearing at the London A Cappella Festival 2013, with their show named “Homegrown” which was an a cappella celebration of British music through the years, hence the title, which made sense as it was being held at the same time as the London 2012 Olympics.  With a packed full house at the venue, it is fair to say that the 6 men of the Magnets had the crowd in raptures with the world premiere of their new tour show which they shall take across the world in September, with all of their individual pieces being met with overwhelming approval in the 750-capacity venue.  The end of the hour was extended when they asked for audience participation in selecting what the final mash-up piece was going to look and sound like.  As a result of this spot of improvisation that they put on at the end, I cannot wait to see them in the London A Cappella Festival in January 2013.

There was no let-up in the pace of this particular evening as I had booked tickets to see the Magnets and the best thing to come out of Finland, FORK on the same night.  About this time last year, I had decided to take a chance on these Scandinavians and I was glad I did at the time.  12 months on, and on my second sighting of them in the space of 8 months this year, they still sounded a treat and unlike the previous 2 occasions, they actually had us on our feet dancing in the Spiegeltent in George Square with one of their later pieces, which was something to behold.  Great fun, and I look forward to the follow-up album to “Pink Noise Live”.

After overdosing on no less than 7 collegiate a cappella gigs in the space of 6 days, my next non-Collegiate gig in August 2012 was with a group to whom I had been introduced to the night before in the Voice Festival UK Showcase, where they were the solitary non-Collegiate group present, as they were formed of alumnae from the University of York.

In one of the last gigs in their short debut run in Edinburgh, the BLOSSOM STREET SINGERS now based in London, a professional choir formed of 8 recent York graduates, provided the audience present at Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth’s nearest church to her Edinburgh Palace with a varied set list of Jazz, Pop and even Classical pieces which was most appreciated by the audience present.

The last of the non-Collegiate a cappella groups that I saw in August was the largest choir I had ever seen anywhere, called “Inspiration”, a community choir formed of no less than 250 members in Newcastle & Leeds, whose set list is exclusively formed of music designed to inspire people.  In their first visit to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, they held their one-off concert as a fundraiser to a charity dealing with injured Armed Forces personnel, with uplifting renditions such as “You Raise Me Up” and the UK Christmas Number 1 single “Wherever You Are” which left many people in tears (if you have heard it, you’ll know why).

So, that was the 6 non-Collegiate a cappella gigs that I had the pleasure of acquiring tickets and time for in August 2012, but of course, not a fully exhaustive list of all the a cappella available on show in Edinburgh, after all in the Fringe alone there were approximately 2600 shows overall to look at, including a cappella shows from an African ensemble named “Soweto Entsha” from South Africa which regrettably I did not find the time for in 2012 and even acts from Australia, so really a cappella from all corners of the world.

John (on the very left) with Hans Cassa, Florian Städtler, Claudia Appel, Nicholas Girard and Annemarie Homan on Primrose Hill, 2012

Now that I’ve concluded my observations of what I saw in Edinburgh in August 2012, all that I need to wait for now is the official London A Cappella Festival 2013.

Note by Vocal Blog founder Florian Städtler: The first time I met the author of this article, was in the lobby of a London hotel at 7:30am. We had our running shoes on and were joined by 4 other London A Cappella Festival 2012 visitors who one hour later had conquered one of the few “mountains” in England’s capital, Primrose Hill. We went down in history as the first London Vocal Jog and as a little thank you for joining this mad enterprise as well as writing this article, John will get one of Acappellazone’s brandnew aca-shirts. Those guys have found a great way to provide you all with a cappella themed shirts printed by spreadshirt ( Go check this out – we are looking forward to John’s picture with his t-shirt very soon!