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Artikel Tagged ‘Peder Karlsson’

The Real Group – on their 30th anniversary tour in Korea

24. September 2015 Keine Kommentare

by Juliana Baron, Vocal Blog Asia, September 2015

It was 1984 when The Real Group was formed. More than 3 decades later, they are still touring across the globe and celebrating their 30th anniversary with their fans all over the world. A few days ago, The Real Group had a concert in the Seoul Arts Center in Korea. Although in the same time zone, we failed to do a „Real“time interview due to bad internet connection. But Morten, baritone of The Real Group, was so nice to give me an interview at a later time. I am very happy to share it with you here on Vocal Blog!

An Interview with Morten Vinther (The Real Group)

Juliana: Congratulations to your 30th anniversary – The seniors of contemporary a cappella! This year (2015), you started your anniversary world tour – is it routine or how does it feel different?

Morten Vinther Sørensen, The Real Group

Morten Vinther Sørensen, The Real Group

Morten: It feels like an extreme privilege for us, to get to celebrate our anniversary with so many people all over the world. And singing songs from almost the whole period of 30 years, puts our own work into a new perspective – for example; choosing songs for an anniversary concert is REALLY hard, when you have hundreds of potential candidates for the list. So that feels different! And even though singing concerts and traveling is what we do, it never becomes routine to meet a smiling audience. Every night is different and we thoroughly enjoy it – recently in South Korea we had fans bringing cake and enjoyed it a bit extra! :-)

Juliana: On your „round the world tour“, you’ve just been in Korea. It seems you’ve been almost everywhere. How did you choose the countries and locations for your anniversary tour?

Morten: We actually sat down with a wish to spoil ourselves a little and said: Which places that we have been to would be on a wish-list? And then we basically tried to make that happen with our manager Helena Roos and our hardworking contacts all over the world. This far the tour has included central Europe, most of Scandinavia, United States, Japan, England, South Korea and before the year is over we will visit Germany, Switzerland, Luxemburg, Latvia, Denmark and have a few trips in Sweden.

Juliana: What is your favorite location?

Morten: Impossible to answer! Every spot has it’s own charm, and I really like getting to switch between cultures and regions all the time. We are all in love with FOOD though (!), which results in tough concerts when we visit countries like Italy and Japan – note to self: don’t eat the 15th bite of sushi before the concert!

Juliana: What is your special linkage to Korea?

Morten: Some years back a very visionary man - Jay W. Sung, FEEL MUSIC – contacted us, because he wanted to use our music in TV-commercials in South Korea and he immediately made us appear on big campaigns on national TV. So that was actually the start of when ended out extensive touring in Korea, hosting an a cappella festival in Seoul, singing at the opening-ceremony of the FIFA World Cup and developing the “a cappella phone” with LG to name the most important things (of course, the love for Korean food followed…)

Juliana: What is your personal highlight touring / singing with the Real Group?

The Real Group

The Real Group

Morten: Personal highlights, hmm, there’s almost too many highlights – but I will try to name a few.

- Touring in South Africa is definitely on the list. We are ambassadors for the charity organization Star for Life that work in South Africa have been visiting schools with that initiative, while also doing our normal concert. Deeply moving encounters with the smiles, the singing and the past.

- Almost living for one month (in total) in the middle of Shibuya, Tokyo, while singing 19 concerts in almost all the suburban areas of Tokyo. Feels a little like home when we come back now.

Juliana: Looking back in your band’s history and your many visits to Asia, how do you think the A Cappella world changed during that time? Especially in Asia?

Morten: The genre has opened up to so many different ways of approaching a cappella. In Asia we have seen both the contemporary and the folky styles develop a lot.

Juliana: Three decades „The Real Group“ – you became ambassadors for a cappella – What is the secret of establishing a worldwide successful renown a cappella group and keeping at the top, motivating and inspiring other groups to sing a cappella?

Morten: I would say that The Real Group has never had those “goals” in mind. I’m not sure it’s secrets but curiosity, timing, respect and extremely hard work has definitely been factors, that has helped on the way – hard work being the biggest one! :-)

Juliana: Do you need to continuously reinvent yourself?

Morten: It would be very boring if we continued to do the same, so I think we have a natural urge to invent new music, new arrangements and follow new ideas – no sure if that is reinventing. But it probably comes out of the aforementioned curiosity… it’s hard to stop that!


The Real Group greeting the Vocal Blog followers “Meet!”

Juliana: What comes next? What are your upcoming projects? Will you continue with LEVELELEVEN (The Real Group + Rajaton)?

Morten: We have a repertoire with a symphony orchestra, that we will take out a few times within the next year. And yes, that’s our plan to continue with LEVELELEVEN – as long as Rajaton wants us on stage with them :-) It’s a very dear project to all of us and besides developing new music and exploring a new instrument together, we have so much fun when we meet. There’s already a few concerts in the calendar for next year with Leveleleven, and we’re looking forward to the luxury.

Juliana: Is „the Bass-Anders“ leaving the biggest change you experienced during your time with The Real Group? 

Morten: Yes, it is definitely the biggest change I have experienced, because Anders Jalkeus is the first member that has left the group, since I joined. That being said, I have been singing with Emmas substitute Kerstin when Emma was on her maternity leave and now more than half a year with our new bass Janis Strazdins – so the changes feel less dramatic than they might look, I guess. The music always lingers on

Juliana: Your new bass Janis joined this year. How did Janis make his way from Latvia to The Real Group?

Morten: We already knew about Janis before we started to look for Anders Jalkeus’ replacement. He used to sing in the extraordinary Latvian vocal group Cosmos and since they split up some years back he quickly made it to our list of people we wanted to talk to. For the last five years, Janis has been singing and touring with the renowned Latvian Radio Choir so it was a steady, calm and experienced guy who entered our rehearsal place to try out with us. I remember rehearsing much longer passages of the pieces than we had planned for, and generally our feedback to his singing was very positive – Janis was cool and answered: “Well, that’s what they pay me for…”    :-)  Janis feels like a great addition to the group and his background reflects the same kind of musical curiosity that can be found in The Real Group – so now we are curious about the future :-) !

Juliana: What is ”The Real Group Academy” about?

Morten: The Real Group Academy is our online “hub” for education within the vocal music field. We have tried to find a way to tie all the great teachers we know out there to all the wonderful singers who wants to learn more. So we really try to connect the singers/conductors/arrangers who want to improve – to the one they need to talk to, so they can meet in real life or via Skype or other digital platforms. The Real Group Academy organize weekend-courses, festivals, coachings, workshops and through Peder Karlsson we’re a part of the RAMA Vocal Center in Denmark. We care a lot about vocal music, basically.

Juliana: Thank you so much for your interview! Enjoy the remaining 30th anniversary tour of The Real Group!


The Real Group “Live in Japan” (also mentioned by Kaichiro Kitamura who is a guest performer on the CD)

 

Aarhus Vocal Festival 2013

by Jeff Meshel, originally posted as letter to Vocal Blog founder Florian Städtler (on the day of Florian’s birthday) on Jeff Meshel’s World on May 23rd 2013.

 

Dear Florian,

Morning Warmup

AAVF 2013 is chronologically over, but still pumping in my veins and breathing in my soul.

It was a wonderful, educationally enriching and communally loving experience. It would be impossible to give you an overview, but I’ll try to relate to you some of my personal experiences, in hopes that the subjective view will give some sort of representative impression of what went on.

It was all pretty well organized, user-friendly. My hotel was only a five-minute walk from the site, which was a big advantage. The biggest problem was not enough hours in the day—wanting to simultaneously attend all the workshops, watch the small group and large group competitions, hear the midday concerts in the foyer, grab some food, and schmooze!!

Concerts

Level Eleven

Pre-FestivalSono and Naura were both new for me, young Danish groups of about 20 singers, both really high quality, interesting repertoire, flawless performance, charming appearance, setting the bar high for the rest of the festival.

Friday – The Mzansi Youth Choir and the Boxettes gave two very different examples of how far contemporary a cappella can go and still knock out the crowd. The Girls Choir of Mariagerfjord were ‘just’ another one of those perfect Danish choirs.

Saturday – Since first hearing them in Vasteros in 2008, I’ve become an impassioned devotee of Vocal Line, so it was of course a really great thrill to hear them again. The combination of Vocal Line, VoxNorth and Eivør wasn’t easy for me. It was a new aesthetic, speaking in a musical language I was less familiar with. It sounds fascinating to me, and I plan on exploring it in the future (in the present, actually—I’m listening to Eivør as I write!)

SundayWeBe3 was a totally new treat for me, improvisation at its purest, and you know I’m a purist ;-). The Real Group and Rajaton both gave short but absolutely first-rate sets, showed why they’re the acknowledged leaders of our cult. It’s the third time I’ve heard both, and maybe the best. Level Eleven had some high points, and promises more to come in the future.

Touché

Monday – The group that completely blew me away was Jesper Holm’s Touché, as I had never even heard them recorded, let alone live. I knew they were a 12-voice group singing Count Basie big band charts and complex Gene Puerling arrangements from Singers Unlimited. What I wasn’t prepared for was the total, absolute technical perfection Jesper has achieved with these guys. Brassier than Basie, subtler than the Singers Unlimited, and purer than Gene Puerling, their mastery of these genres was TOTAL. The delivery was crystal-clear, as pure as glacial water. Even the soloists sang with superhuman control. And I was particularly impressed by how steeped these kids are in the vocal jazz tradition. They really do know where they’re coming from. And I can only dream where they’re going. More about that below. Just to make you even sorrier you weren’t here, I’ve posted the entire set as soundcloud links on Jeff Meshel’s World.

 

Reach Out and Touch a Star

Jens, Jeff, Line, Jim

It’s a strange situation at these festivals – you listen to the artist at home, think about their music; read about the upcoming concert; buy a ticket, buy a plane ticket and reserve a hotel; travel, with all the anticipation and excitement and build-up; and then an hour after the show you’re drinking a beer with the artist, with him telling you how he felt about the show. We’re used to admiring our ‘idols’ from afar. The warmth and intimacy of a festival such as this is a big part of its utter charm.

I met a guy on the train who was coming from Belgium to hear Bruce Springsteen in Denmark. They say Bruce is a really nice guy, but you’re watching him with 20,000 strangers from 3 kilometers away, with 500 armed guards in between you and him. Here, an hour after the show, you share a beer with the artist and hug him and thank him for the fine show, and he tells you how excited he was… Who de boss now?

Workshops

Line Groth Riis & Anders Hornshøj, “Just Sing It”

They started with the incomparable dynamo Line Groth Riis leading 800 people singing two ultra-cool arrangements, with really fine, overpowering results. Go beat that. And that’s just for starters.

The Single Singers had to prepare four songs, three of which were quite difficult, in two rehearsals with no clear conductor. No mean feat that! It seemed quite impossible at the beginning, but somehow it worked at the end. The really great thing that happened there for me was singing Vocal Line’s version of Peter Garbiel’s “Don’t Give Up” with Jens Johansen himself conducting! So, that was a thrill in and of itself, but the really inspiring aspect was singing the song, being part of the tapestry of that beautiful, divine arrangement. I had listened to the song many, many times, but there’s nothing like singing it from within. (Guess what is going to be Song of The Week on my blog tomorrow?)

Jim Daus Hjernøe workshop

I joined five other workshops, each one an education in and of itself.
The amazingly talented Roger Treece, the man behind Bobby McFerrin’s “VOCAbuLarieS” was really pushing the envelope of grasping how rhythm and pulse work. It was sometimes a stretch to follow him, but yet a lot of fun.
Everyone was raving about Jim Daus Hjernøe’s workshop in Sweden, and I finally caught up with him here. “Rhythm and Groove” was uplifting, mind-expanding. He made so much sense out of central elements I’d never been aware of previously. I told him that in my next incarnation I want to come study in Aarhus. He responded that they have a really good remote learning program. If only I had the courage! Me, studying with these giants?

Single Singers rehearsal

I attended Katarina Henryson and Anders Edenroth’s “All Ears” workshop. I’d heard them go over the same material before more than once. And you know what? It gets better each time. Eighty strangers walk into a room, mostly fairly talented amateur singers. Then Katarina and Anders start teaching you the Art of Listening. And at the end of two hours we did a group improvisation – with our eyes closed!!! – about seven minutes of beautiful, transcendent, magical music. Just mind-boggling. Just these two hours were worth the 12-hour trip.
And Jesper Holm’s Advanced Vocal Technique. The program said ‘Harmonic complexity, swing feeling, jazz phrasing, sound and blend.’ Yes, that’s what he did. But I was reminded of the Yeats’ poem: That girls at puberty may find/The first Adam in their thought,/Shut the door of the Pope’s chapel,/Keep those children out./There on that scaffolding reclines/Michael Angelo./With no more sound than the mice make/His hand moves to and fro./(Like a long-legged fly upon the stream/His mind moves upon silence.) The absolute precision of his approach showed again that ‘God is in the details’. It was a truly inspiring workshop experience. Jesper is my new role model for doing a job well. And I’m proud to count him as a new friend.

People

I met SO many people—friends from Vasteros 2008, friends from Stockholm 2012, more recent Facebook friends, and new friends from Aarhus – too many to mention. I made a list of about 25 people that I had memorable interactions with, but I’m not going to list them because I know there were another dozen that are escaping my fuzzy brain, and hopefully another dozen that I’ll get to know now by writing. I did notice that the hugs have gotten tighter over the years, that each subsequent meeting with these fine people deepens the connection from the cordial to the friendly to the beginning of real involvement.

As you know, I do a lot of talking and thinking and writing about music, and I was fortunate enough to have three serious, focused, professional conversations.

The first was with Peder Karlsson. I first met Peder at Vasteros in 2008. I had brought a group from Israel and had briefly corresponded with him via email. On the first day I was nervous, confused, excited. Peder walked by, and I asked him timidly where the Whatever Room was.
I was a novice, a nobody, an attendee from afar; he was The Star. He looked at my nametag, looked at me, let out a shout of “Jeff!” and gave me a bearhug. I knew something different was going on in this community. Then in 2012, our second meeting, we became a bit friendly.
So now in 2013 I told Peder that I wanted to Skype with him about the history of TRG. He said, “Now!” For an entire morning, Peder told me about the origins of The Real Group’s music. There was a bit of an argument: I was maintaining that TRG invented our contemporary a cappella, while Peder was (over-modestly, I think) asserting that TRG drew from a number of different existing sources. In any case, we both agreed that this is fascinating piece of AC folklore, and it will be my pleasure to work our discussion into a printed interview in the near future. Oh, and now I can comfortably say that I feel Peder is a friend.

This is just one example of many–too many (and too personal) to recount here.

By the way, the origin of TRG’s music issue has riveted me for a long time and spilled over into several other conversations I had. Bill Hare had a lot of first-hand knowledge to share, and Jonathan Minkoff was gleefully maintaining that just about everything I think is diametrically opposed to the truth. Fortunately Judy Fontana was there to keep us from trans-Atlantic blows, suggesting the theory that vocal percussion was developed simultaneously on either side of the ocean. I’m gonna be thinking about that, Judy!

The second conversation was with Roger Treece, whom I’d asked in advance to meet with. I was aware of his work on “VOCAbuLarieS”, and really wanted to hear how Vocal Line was connected to that project. I also wanted to learn more about where Roger is applying his very prodigious talents these days. We had a great, honest, intimate talk which I hope to write up in one form or another (assuming that the glass of water I spilled on the table didn’t erase the file on my recorder). I sincerely hope Roger finds the perfect venue in which to work in the future, because I think his talent is unlimited and he can be a formative voice in a cappella in the next generation.

The third conversation was with Jesper Holm. I’d met Jesper very briefly in 2012, barely long enough to discover that we have a lot of overlapping interests and that I possess an obscure Singers Unlimited CD that he covets. I gladly brought it to Aarhus as an offering, looking forward to getting to know him a bit. We talked for less than an hour, but reached incredibly interesting places. We discussed the very substance of vocality, where group vocal jazz is today, and where it might go in the future. We also raised some ideas about utterly new vistas to explore, and concrete plans about how to do that. We were talking about inventing a new musical language. My blood is still pounding over that conversation. I hope that when the clouds clear, the substance remains and that Jesper sets out on that very profound journey.

What I’ve Taken Home

Oh, just so many ideas. And techniques for making better music. And exposure to new types of music. And hopes and plans for the future. And friendships. Membership in a most special community. And a whole lotta love.

I was at the original Woodstock festival. Given the choice of going back there or going to the next AAVF—no competition, man. Hands down, it’s Aarhus. Something is very sweet in the state of Denmark.

Really, I have only one serious complaint about the festival. You weren’t there, Florian. You and my old buddies Kongero and my new buddies The Swingles and my future buddies The Idea of North.

So I guess we’ll just have to make plans to meet again in Aarhus in 2015.

Till then,

Jeff

Please feel free to visit Song of The Week, where you’ll find lots of postings on a cappella and other musical genres.

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

The Real Group Festival – Behind the Scenes

by Joakim Skog, The Real Group Festival organizer (introduction) and Peder Karlsson (interviewed by Florian Städtler)

Joakim Skog

Being part of the first festival arranged by the Real Group in Västerås 2008 it was a no-brainer to jump in to the project when Peder Karlsson asked me about it in 2011. The around-the-clock joy and happiness that impregnated the festival in Västerås was about to be reinvented, by keeping the best and then adding everything we so much wanted to do but just couldn’t find the resources to make happen. I didn’t need many seconds to consider the offer!

Last time, the festival had great support from Västmanlandsmusiken, both monetary and with people working on the project. This time around, the festival has moved to Stockholm and is entirely run by the Real Group themselves. This involves the whole group in a substantial way, not only when it comes to being artistic directors and headmasters of the education part of the festival, but actually managing everything from budget and customer support to planning of how to get the right equipment to the right stage at the right time. As the head master of The Real Academy, Peder Karlsson is the project manager backed up by a team consisting of the rest of the Real Group as well as volunteers like me. It’s a lean organization, but constantly growing as the festival shapes up.

Having participated in many amazing festivals through out the years – like the AAVF, the Vocal Jazz Summit and London A Cappella Festival to name a few – I know what I like, and to be part of creating a unique combination of amazing concerts at night and inspiring and educating workshops during daytime together with this great team and with all the wonderful artists that are so supportive of this festival is so worthwhile! And it feels safe to promise, that if you are at all interested in vocal music – either if you are practicing or a listener – the Real Group Festival in Stockholm will be an experience you’ll never forget!

 

Joakim Skog has been an a cappella aficionado since 2001 when he was one of the founders of the vocal group which today is known as reSOUND. He has been singing in choirs since the age of 10 when he was admitted to the Adolf Fredrik’s Music School. Being a CASA ambassador he has been heavily involved in networking Swedish acappella fans and groups using online forums and blogs but also by arranging acappella concert clubs, etc. During daytime, he works as a Technology Pioneer at Bisnode, a large Swedish business information group , working with IT trend analysis and media monitoring.

Vocal Blog Interview with Peder Karlsson (by Florian Städtler)

Peder Karlsson & Florian Städtler in Stockholm 2010

The festival’s motto is „Forever curious“. How has this mindset developed from the foundation of The Real Group until today?

I would say this has been an “unspoken motto” for The Real Group since the very beginning. When we began in 1984, very few people could tell us how to sing jazz and pop music a cappella.

The phrasing and articulation we needed to learn was very different from how we were used to sing in choirs. There was a lot of trial and error, as well as hanging out with jazz singers and instrumentalists. We also had the opportunity to meet with some of the greatest a cappella teachers of that time; Ward Swingle, Eric Ericson, Monica Dominique, Svante Thuresson, to name a few.

The same attitude applied to studio work. In 1995 we decided to do a record with original compositions only, and we said this to the record company…before any songs were written. We gave ourselves a deadline and then we started to write new songs. The result was an album called “Original”. Lyrics in Swedish.

In 2000 we made a record called “Commonly Unique” – that marked a very clear difference between live repertoire and arrangements for the records. Again we included our own compositions only. With several songs made at least three versions – first an instrumental demo with lead vocal, then a multi-track a cappella version (for the CD) and then a five-part version for our live concerts. This record took us more than a year to make, and we learned a lot from doing it… things that we could not have anticipated.

Now we’re developing tools for online education – without any prior experience. Again, it has taken a lot of time, and we haven’t really launched any programs until after The Real Group Festival in August. We truly are curious to see how our online projects will develop, and how we can include other people with specific competence and methods for a cappella singing.

 

This is the second edition of the festival run by The Real Group. One  difference compared to the 2008 premiere is the involvement of the The The Real Group’s members.

In 2008 we had a much smaller team; me, Joakim Skog, Kella Naeslund and Jennie Wilhelmsson; the latter two from Västmanlandsmusiken who produced the festival. I made the schedule myself, with assistance from Claes De Geer. The Real Group was involved with the artistic direction; which artists to invite and general ideas about the workshop program.

This time the festival contents cover an even wider span of activities, and it simply would not be possible to do it without the fantastic team we have: The Real Group, me, Joakim Skog (from reSound) , Claes De Geer, Claes Nyberg (Barbercue) , Caroline Berg, Karin Svinhufvud Söremark, Anton Leandersson-Andréas (Vocado), Johan Bjurling (Barbercue), Rikard Förare and Kajsa Thelander. Jeff Meshel and Paul Jay have helped us with the program book. And of course John Jacobson from jvd.se has done all the design work. The festival is in a very flexible state, and I am sure we will include more staff as we the festival approaches.

 

An event of this size and quality is an enormous investment in money, time and (wo)manpower. Where does the motivation for this big effort come from?

The music. The lovely and fantastic people we know from all over the world who continue to contribute to the development of vocal ensemble music. The urge to make a contribution ourselves. There is healing power in vocal music. And the world could sure use that.

I also would like to mention that apart from external consultants, we do this on a  volunteer basis. And our festival program would have been much more difficult to accomplish without support from Swedish government funds. So big thanks to Statens Musikverk who decided to support our vision!

The festival is announced as „maybe the most awesome vocal music event in the world.“ Would you give our readers (and potential visitors) some elements of The Real Group Festival that are truly unique?

There is an unusual level of bonding between artists and participants. This was very clear in the survey results we received after the 2008 festival. Maybe this is because we have a non-competitive policy. Or maybe it has something to do with the indovidual qualities of The Real Group’s singers. This is not only a high-level professional group, but also a very nice group of individuals. And that is a very important factor in creating a festival vibe. You would have to come and be there to see what I mean.

The artists are fantastic. Of course other festivals also have fantastic artists. But I don’t know if there are so many things to hear in other European vocal festivals. You can some as an individual or as a complete group. Or as a choir.

The scope of workshop contents: I haven’t seen anything like it anywhere else. Check the program book and let me know what you think!
The program book that is already available online has 119 pages.  Can you give us a short overview, which kind of activities are planned and for whom they might be particularly interesting.

Haha, this is not easy for me! We have so many good things planned. Of course you must see the concerts. In the Opening Concert, The Real Group‘s “original  line-up” with me and Margareta Bengtson will make a special appearance, before “The Real Real Group” goes on stage, together with Postyr Project, Vocado and Perpetuum Jazzile.  On Friday night you have a chance to hear a concert with both Rajaton and Swingle Singers. Two of the absolute top a cappella groups in the world right now. And to Saturday night’s concert, The Real Group has invited a bunch of friends to make a once-in-a-lifetime concert experience. You can download a Workshops Summary from here: http://www.therealacademy.se/mod/resource/view.php?id=1020

A quick summary of some of the workshops:

All Ears – with Anders Edenroth and Katarina Henryson: How to improve your listening skills in order to refine your musical communication.

Anything can happen – with Peder Karlsson: How to expand your ensemble’s range of dynamics and timbres.

Sing with Jens Johansen – Get a taste of the happiness and excitement you get from singing grandiose pop music in a large choir.

Sing with The Real Group – A unique chance to sing Real Group songs (excerpts) together with the very group itself.

Single Singers – Sing together with others who also come to The Real Group Festival on their own or with just a few members of their choir or vocal group. (Created by Annemarie Homan and Emily May ‘t Hoen, this concept has already been very successful at the London A cappella Festival and Jonathan Minkoff’s SingStrong festival, for example.)

Meet Perpetuum Jazzile, Postyr Project, Rajaton, The Swingle Singers – This is a series of workshops where the artist groups sing and talk. With questions from the auditorium. (This activity was very popular in our 2008 festival.)

Rhythm & Groove – with Jim Daus Hjernøe: Tips and tricks and demonstrations of useful tools that develop a collective sense of rhythm and groove.

Inspiring rehearsals for choirs – with Line Groth: How to get a funky groove combined with accurate pitch, beautiful blend and a powerful expression into your choir’s performance. Line Groth is a very accomplished singer, arranger and choir leader. A coming star of a cappella mentorship!

The Real Group History – with Anders Jalkéus: A behind-the-scenes presentation of 27 years of rehearsals, concerts and recordings. (I’ve seen this presentation once, it’s Great! Anders Jalkéus has found audio tracks and videos I don’t think anybody outside of the group has seen or heard. A must-hear/see!)

Passion as a platform for success – with Bostjan Usenik: Boštjan Usenik, Perpetuum Jazzile’s business manager, will tell the true story of how Perpetuum Jazzile made a concrete plan for how to become the most popular vocal group in Slovenia – and became one of the most appreciated artistic forces in their country of any musical style. Now they have their goal set for how to reach out to the rest of the world…

 

Peder, you have left the group in 2009 and started The Real Academy.  How is the Academy intertwined with the festival and what does the festival mean to you, the headmaster?

We will have a few activities at The Real Group Academy before the festival, with a focus on: arranging, recording technique and staging. You don’t have to participate in the online classes; it is an option. In any case, we learned in the 2008 festival that these topics require some time to cover properly – the festival is too short.  After the festival, we will launch online programs. And sell Skype lessons, of course. Me and Tine Fris (from Postyr project) already give Skype lessons; I teach groups and she teaches individuals.

I have spent a lot of time planning for an online course for vocal groups, that gives you all the basics that you need to develop your vocal ensemble. With specific exercises for rhythm, intonation, blend/tone colours and phrasing. It takes some time to get used to the online format. Groups upload short recordings, and our teachers listen & give feedback in a classroom forum. It works amazingly well. As long as you don’t expect to get the same thing as you can get with a teacher in the same room.  But that is what the festival is for!!

Or online courses – on October 20-21, we’re planning a course in Stockholm, with just a few teachers. For singers and vocal groups. Not a very big thing, a lot smaller than the festival; we’ll just sing, practise and have fun together.

 

Thank you very much, Peder, and good luck for all the preparations that are going on. See you on August 16th-19th in Stockholm!

More information about The Real Group Festival can be found at www.therealacademy.se. Festival passes are available and booking hotels and travel as soon as possible is recommended.

Don’t forget to like the festival on Facebook and follow it on Twitter. The official Twitter hashtag is #TRGF2012. Thanks for spreading the word!

6 Lessons from LACF 2012

by Florian Städtler on BA 753 from London Heathrow to Basel/Freiburg

London A Cappella Festival was a blast: A growing audience, a buzzing venue, an international line-up and an impressive number of vocal music movers and shakers from places as far as Taipeh, Toronto and Torino. The sheer joy of three days packed with concerts by some of the top artists of the genre, enthusiastic youngsters meeting the pros and the encounters with all those wonderful aca-family members rings on while the 2012 festival is over.

Any event that really meant something to us, leaves us with a kind of post-festival nostalgia, maybe a little hangover and the occasional farewell-miss-you-hope-to-see-you-all-again tweets and status updates. But it also leaves us with a lot of homework if we want to avoid telling this one favourite musicians’ lie: “Let’s do something together!” (The others are: “I’ll never drink again” – “I’ll give you the money back tomorrow” – “I really liked your solo” – “I’ll call you next week” etc.).  So here’s the lessons and the points of action that from my point of view will make London A Cappella Festival 2012 not only a temporary firework of musicality, expertise and camraderie but a step towards the development of our community including the occasional look outside the a cappella bubble, i.e. “the real world”:

  1. Education   There is an enormous demand from teachers, music teachers and even business consultants for tools that can help to improve music education as well as the development of social skills in all domains. Singing together is an immensely effective tool and our community has both the capability and the duty to make this tool accessible to as many people as possible.
  2. Face-to-Face Communication  The vocal music festival as a combination of concerts, educational events and social activities is the heart and soul of the community. It must be the goal to create ANNUAL events in as many countries, regions and cities as possible. And these events can start very small – it can take years to grow an audience, to find collaborators and to get heard in the media. Meeting people in person will always be the best, so bring on the a cappella events!
  3. Internationality   Our knowledge of how to improve and innovate is naturally limited. Some call it tunnel vision, some blame the daily grindstone. But only if we continually try to get a different, a somehow external perspective, we will truly improve and develop both the art form and the business models. We are lucky to already have established transcontinental communication and invitations, but now let’s turn it into concrete collaboration.
  4. Infrastructure   We now have three organisations covering Planet A Cappella: CASA (The Contemporary A Cappella Society) was founded on the US West Coast by the godfather of US vocal music, Deke Sharon in 1991. Due to 20 years of hard work and the latest mainstream media successes (Glee, Sing-Off, Straight No Chaser) CASA is stronger than ever and has developed attractive programs for approximately 600 members and 10.000 CASA account holders all over the US of A Cappella. Vocalasia was founded less than two years ago and their track record in China, Korea, Japan, Singapore and Taiwan is impressive to say the least. And by December 2012, EVA (The European Voices Association) has begun to work on the collaboration of existing organizations in more than 25 EU member countries. The first informal talks between the representatives of the organisations were very promising. They left us with the homework to make exchange of know-how and talent an ongoing, structured process.
  5. Out of the Comfort Zone   It’s quite cosy in the a cappella bubble, isn’t it? So full of festival-triggered endorphine, why would we want to change a thing at all? Let me tell you why: Because what we have seen yet, could be only the tip of the iceberg. What if Deke Sharon’s vision of an annual a cappella event “no farther than 2 hours drive from every US citizen” came true? What if Clare Chen‘s plan to open up the Chinese mainland market for international a cappella became reality? What if Peder Karlsson’s Real Academy was the vocal music educational web hub of Europe, Asia and the US? What if there was a single platform for worldwide a cappella resources and information? All these ideas are worthless….as long as we’re only talking about them. We need more people who really get things done. And getting things done means leaving the personal comfort zone: Raise money, cut red tape, lobby for your cause, make this unpleasant phone call.
  6. The Big Q was already mentioned above: A Cappella Coocoon vs. Dream of the Mainstream. As a cappella mentor Peder Karlsson said, “if you asked a taxi driver, he won’t be able to tell you the name of any vocal group”. Do we want this to change? Or would this destroy the a cappella family? And why not search for the Big A: The way to combine commercial success and community bliss? Let’s make this our common homework.

This blog post and

Deke’s “Tough Love” post has led to some interesting replies by peer bloggers, find the links to related articles here:

Jan 15 Vocal Blog – Florian Städtler „6 Lessons from LACF 2012“

Jan 16 CASA – Deke Sharon „Tough Love – Tough Market“ including comments by Peter Hollens, Willy Eteson, Florian Städtler et.al.

Jan 17 Vocal Blog – Florian Städtler “From Europe with (Tough) Love”  including comments by Mark Gregory, RJ Eckhart, Deke Sharon, Willy Etson et.al.

Jan 17 Acatribe – David Bernstein „Calling Out ‚Professional‘ Groups“

Jan 17 RJ A Cappella – Robert-Jon Eckhart „The Big Q“

Jan 19 CASA – Deke Sharon „So What Can I Do?“

Florian Städtler is founder Vocal Blog and Chairman of the European Voices Association. He can’t believe how quickly this blog has developed a following of wonderful, intelligent and nicely-smelling people. Thanks for sharing the greatest ideas and the latest aca-gossip with a growing number of vocal music enthusiasts. If you can’t get enough of this stuff and/or want to get in touch with almost 1000 a cappella buddies like Vocal Blog on Facebook. If you want to make us of Vocal Blog as a filter and aggregator of a cappella news, links, tipps and hilarious tweets, follow Vocal Blog on Twitter.

If you want to sell and/or buy stuff online, go to Acappellazone or write to florian@acappellazone.com. If you think there is a video of high quality of exceptional artistry, let us know so that we can post it on the Acappellazone YouTube channel.

If you like face-to-face communication (like 4-hour candle light dinners or after party allnighters), I agree: This is the best way to communicate. So let’s stay in touch via social media and meet in person when Vocal Blog goes on tour: See you in Stockholm!