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Artikel Tagged ‘Slixs’

Vocal Asia Festival 2015 – Impressions of Day 5

21. September 2015 1 Kommentar

by Juliana Baron, Vocal Blog Asia, September 2015

Every moment is just so special – Juliana’s first-hand impressions of the Vocal Asia Festival 2015

Sad, but true – the last day of Vocal Asia Festival (VAF) 2015 in Shanghai has come:

Day 5: Caught in the moment

Sun (Aug 9), the last day of the Vocal Asia Festival, started with one of my favorite workshop topics: „Imprecision in an Age of Musical Perfection“.

DeltaCappella’s workshop „Imprecision“

DeltaCappella’s workshop „Imprecision“

DeltaCappella inspired and motivated people in their workshop to try out new ways of learning and arranging a song without strictly sticking to the notation. Unfortunately, we found no time during the festival to have an interview. I hope, I will get the chance some day soon, to have a deeper discussion with DeltaCappella on this interesting approach.

In the afternoon, I attended the Jazz vocal percussion class of Kaichiro Kitamura, an amazing Jazz vocal percussionist and founder of the Japan A Cappella Society.

After his workshop, I got a chance to talk to Kai about the status and development of A Cappella in Japan.

Interview with Kaichiro Kitamura from Japan

Kaichiro Kitamura, Juliana Baron, Ray Chu

Kaichiro Kitamura, Juliana Baron, Ray Chu

Juliana: Kaichiro-san, you are such an international person, fluent in English, Chinese, Korean – and of course Japanese. Is it ok, to call you Kai?

Kai: Yes, well, you are half Korean, you can also call me Kai Obba (elder brother).

Juliana: (laugh) This year, Vocal Asia in Japan was kicked off. How would you describe the status of A Cappella in Japan?

Kai: Actually, we are deeply impressed by Take 6, Singers unlimited, Doo-wap and so on. Those, who listen to their music, they form up their college a cappella groups. The first a cappella club was established in Waseda University in Tokyo, which I graduated from, and that was more than 30 years ago. This was the first college a cappella club in Japan. Then, 10 years later, new a cappella clubs occurred in many colleges and many places and not only the students’ associations, but also the vocal festival associations for the public. So now, spreading out nationwide from Hokkaido to Kyushu area. There are pretty many a cappella festivals right now in Japan.

Juliana: How come that there are not so many Japanese a cappella groups going outside of Japan?

Kai: Well, one of the reasons is, they don’t know about the international festivals abroad, actually. And the second reason is, they are interested to join in international festivals, but it is tough for them to speak English. They need to understand everything in English, need to express themselves, need to understand the classes, the instructors – that’s tough for them. There is a language barrier.

Juliana: Are there any professional groups in Japan who can make their living from a cappella?

Kai: Yes, more than 10 professional groups are in Japan. Most of the teams are living in Osaka or Kobe area and about 3-5 groups are now active in Tokyo.

Juliana: What was your highlights and lowlights throughout your musical journey with vocal percussion and a cappella?

Kai: It is hard to tell, because I experienced so many highlights. One of the big highlights is the Vocal Asia Festival. Every year I was invited as an instructor. And every year coincidently, I was invited as a guest performer at the gala concert to accompany the master group of the festival. For example with The Real Group in 2011, in 2012 with Slixs, then Rajaton, The Idea of North. That gave me the big chance to perform in the world. And this year, tonight, I will also join Naturally 7 on stage. We just finished the rehearsal, it was OK (laugh). Oh, and with The Real Group, when they came to Tokyo, I just hopped into their show and the whole performance was recorded. The CD is now on sale, the title is “Live in Japan – The Real Group”

Juliana: Any lowlights?

Kai: Actually, I’ve never experienced bad things. Always the music cheers me up and people motivated me. So, every time I feel happy.

Juliana: What is your wish for Asia’s A Cappella future?

Kai: Especially for our country, we have lot’s of difficulties to host an international festival. But I want to make a change. If we promote a cappella festivals like those from Vocal Asia to Japanese concerts, to the Japanese people, Japanese singers – maybe that attracts them, I believe they will participate. All I can do is being an ambassador, tell people what is good, what is happening in other Asian countries. I will be in charge of promoting. I’ll do my best.

Juliana: Thank you so much, Kai Obba! I wish you all the best for your a cappella promotion!

 

VAF Gala Concert - The Wanted

VAF Gala Concert – The Wanted

The final highlight of the 2015 Vocal Asia Festival was the gala concert. Asia Cup winners „The Wanted“ opened the show. Although just coming out of High School, they were absolutely stunning and almost professional.

VAF Gala Concert - DeltaCappella

VAF Gala Concert – DeltaCappella

Special guest DeltaCappella brought a different sound experience and a diverse program of jazz, swing, rock and pop songs – the audience loved it. The workshop participants of the morning session were invited to sing along the chorus of Good Livin’: „We’re gonna harmonize and we’re gonna shout…“

VAF Gala Concert - Naturally 7 giving everything.

VAF Gala Concert – Naturally 7 giving it one’s all.

VAF Gala Concert - Naturally 7

VAF Gala Concert – Naturally 7

 

 

 

 

 

Mindblowing the show of the VAF’s master group Naturally 7. Next to me, there was a Chinese lady almost going nuts, almost jumping out of her seat. It seemed to be her first time in an a cappella concert and she couldn’t stop saying how good they are.

Kaichiro Kitamura’s duet with Naturally 7 bass Kelz was for sure another highlight on this show.


Fabulous gig of Kaichiro Kitamura with Naturally 7 bass Kelz at the VAF Gala Concert.

But my favorite of this evening was the encore song „Caught in the moment“. Somehow like a motto which accompanied me throughout the whole festival. Each and every moment was just so special.

 

Naturally 7: „Caught in the moment“ (which is much more intimate and touching listening to it live)

Although this was a lot to read and thanks for your interest – there was much more happening throughout the VAF 2015. Sorry that I couldn’t join and share impressions of several other interesting workshops by Ray Chu, Christine Liu, Kwok-Tung Fung, Leo Tsai and Kaichiro Kitamura. If you joined any of their workshops or want to share some of your experiences, please feel free to comment and share.

Hope to see you at the next festival whenever, wherever on this earth! Cheers!

VAF 2015 - the participants

VAF 2015 – the participants

Bobby McFerrin + SLIXS & Friends

21. September 2013 1 Kommentar

by Michael Eimann, SLIXS (GER)

Michael Eimann & Bobby McFerrinAn unbelievable weekend expired. We are all enchanted by the spirit of music, the joint music-making, and the power of the perfect sound.

2 months ago we got the mission to assemble an 18-headed choir for a concert at the “Solidarity of Arts Festival” in Gdansk (Poland).  This choir should contest one part of the three hour programme with Bobby McFerrin . The music was a mixture of different songs from the “Master of  Vocal Art” plus circlesong – improvisations. The highlight were musical pieces from VOCAbuLaries that came up in 2010 – wonderful compositions and arrangements by Roger Treece.  The bases were McFerrin-motifs which Treece had found in Bobby’s sound archive.
Time was short, even more fantastic was the result. Without any reason we feared that we can’t get together enough colleagues of choice on a short-term basis. Due to the circumstance that everybody wanted and could take time off for this special concert, we didn’t have to compromise in choosing the best singers.
We all met on a sunny Sunday in the castle Baumersroda. The lord and the lady of the castle, Marschel Schöne and Garnet Meiß,  along with their beautiful daughter Capaldi opened the gates and their hearts and prepared a classy home for the rehearsals for 4 days.  In the ballroom of the castle we could begin to put the pieces of the concert together. On the second day Karen Goldfelder from New York City consorted with us. Karen is responsible for Bobby McFerrin’s concert programme in the agency „Original Artists“. Since she is a singer as well, we incorporated her in the choir as an additional alto singer.  From the beginning, the collaboration with her has been pleasantly relaxing and extremely productive.  In general, we realized that we showed a lucky hand in the assembly of voices, not only in connection with the consonance. Also the characters of the singers seemed to have a perfectly balanced and harmonic sound. All in all it was the ideal precondition for a successful project. All the participants were highly motivated and only focused on the common performance with „the voice“.

The musical work happened fast because everybody was very well prepared. Soon after, an euphoria started to spread due to the wonderfully homogenous and the enormously powerful sound that was rounded off by a clean intonation.  Awareness grew that we were part of an unique ensemble of soloists and by courtesy of the sensitivity of each individual, no loner detuned the instrument “choir”.

All this happened in the marvellous ambience of the tenderly refurbished castle. We constantly caught ourselves saying: „Oh, how beautiful“. It got almost cheesy when a voice group assembled at the well to sing to the three peacocks of the house. We generally sang and practiced permanently and it wasn’t over after the rehearsals. It was then, during the jam-sessions, when it became clear what great artists were brought here together. The lord and the lady of the castle (we tenderly called them king and queen) cared for us discreetly but impressively, with an open fire, sauna, and good talks… The crowning glory of our stay was a trout meal, individually prepared by the king himself, at a festively decorated table with wines from the region.

With all our hearts we hit the road to Poland on Thursday morning at 4am. We went by plane from Berlin to Gdansk where we arrived tired out at about noon. But we didn’t have time to relax. The close-knit schedule instructed us to do the first rehearsal after two hours. And this rehearsal should have been our baptism of fire.  It was the first time that the entire organizational staff along with the management, the sound engineering team, and of course Bobby McFerrin himself listened to the choir.  You could sense the excitement among us (but luckily invisible for the eye). Especially Karen was nervous about the reactions. We were prepared for the possibility that Bobby could listen to our work without comment, give thanks, and leave – since he has also been distinctly exhausted after the long flight. However, all of these worries vanished when Bobby joined in the song “Come To Me” after the first beat and sang with us visibly impressed. His reaction afterwards was joy and relief for all of us: „I’ve never heard this tune so funky. Thank you so much. I was very tired, but now I’m revived “. But things turned out even better: Against all expectations he insisted to guide the 23rd psalm himself. This was a magical moment for all the persons present in the room. He said a big thank you to everyone for this beautiful moment and was profoundly touched. You could even see tears of emotion shine in some of the attendant listener’s eyes. After some circlesong-improvisations and the common singing of “Wailers” and “The Garden” from VOCAbuLaries, everyone was so enthusiastic about the power of voices that we spontaneously arrived at an unprecedented decision: For the first time in the history of VOCAbuLaries the musical pieces should be performed without the usually inevitable “backup tracks”. After this promising beginning we had a little time to explore the marvellous city centre of Gdansk.

On Friday, sound check and final rehearsal were on the schedule. Everything went well thanks to the impressive competence of the sound engineering crew around Daniel F. Vicari, who has been Bobby’s sound man for many years.

From then on everyone has been waiting for the big performance. The open-air-concert started at 9pm in the centre of Gdansk. Bobby’s backing musicians took turns on three stages that were located next to each other, while he attended the particular parts. The Polish Baltic Philharmonic Orchestra that was conducted by Bobby started the evening off. The next part was the Polish jazz legend Urszula Dudziak.

Then it was up to us to give everything! The feedback of the approximately 35000 visitors to our “Come To Me” was overwhelming. And this even increased until our last song. Obviously, Bobby had as much fun as we had, and therefore it was a real treat to sing his songs with him. When we sang “Wailers” you could literally take hold of the energy between singers and the audience. This feeling changed into a pure euphoria on both sides. Fabulous – what a feeling!

But the night was still young, even though the majority of our work was done. At first, Slixs consorted with the Polish fusion band Laboratorium and Bobby for an interpretation of “Freedom Is A Voice”. After the Bulgarian choir The Bulgarian Voices – Angelite, the Atom String Quartet and the fantastic SpiritYOUall Part, all of the artists assembled around Bobby for the great final with the song “Glory”. That piece of music was acclaimed with a never-ending applause for a magnificent evening.

What should we say? Of course, there was an after show party suitable to the occasion with many good talks, fraternizations, bright faces of the artists, the organizers, and the management. And there was vodka, lots of vodka, until the new day dawned.

Was that it? No, this wasn’t the end, it was the beginning. On Sunday, just before our departure, we received the message from Bobby and the management that Slixs and friends are going to accompany the VOCAbuLaries tour in Europe next year in exactly the same ensemble. Somehow it was the only logical conclusion to this unbelievable week. Thanks to Karen Goldfeder, Maike Lindemann, Maria Sonnica Yepes Gutierrez, Sophie Grobler, Minerva Díaz Pérez, Jane Maturell, Irene Latzko, Christoph Mangel, Tim Ludwig, Stephan Eisenmann, Christian Nolte, Arno Brechmann and of cause to Bobby McFerrin!!!

Find more info at http://www.slixs.info/en/bobby-mcferrin-slixs-friends/

Slixs in Malaysia – We did it again!

by Michael Eimann, Slixs (Germany)

Packed with loads of good memories we are writing this report of a fantastic tour on the other side of the world…

It started in Malaysia‘s capital Kuala Lumpur with a very warm welcome at the German Embassy. Bavarian (ehm sorry….) , German ambassador Dr. Günther Gruber and his wife made sure the place was packed and everybody had enough German Beer after the concert, which was fun of course! We met so many different nations in just one room that night, it was fantastic!!! ((thanks!))

Another ‘local’ was taking good care of us throughout our stay in KL: Dr. Volker Wolf from Goethe Institut – you get infected right away from his charming soulfulness – he is a great source to hear and learn from about the country. Singing in KDU University was such fun, having a big party with all the students over there. After that travelled to Penang Island once again, to sing for the German-Malaysian Association, right at the famous Eastern Oriental Hotel, where Hermann Hesse back then had his coffee at the seaside..

Flying half around the world in this special case meant for us – meeting friends! Isn’t that cool? We met Paul Augustin from Penang Island Jazzfestival and jammed in a club with some of the Malay musicians we met at his Festival two years ago!

On we went – to Borneo Island, first stopping by at Riamtec College – and again – partying with 1500 students here…!

Then – finally – the concert we were waiting for all the weeks before: BORNEO Jazzfestival – it was a BLAST!! Imagine a crowd of 4000 people partying to a cappella music and rainforest sounds on the shore of the South China Sea… AMAZING!! We were overwhelmed by the vivid blaze of sounds and the exquisite variety of all the other bands that came from all parts of the world.

That’s what Ian Patterson wrote on “All About Jazz”, an international online music magazine: „There must be an unholy number of truly outstanding a capella groups in Germany if SLIXS was billed in the festival program as “one of the best” in the country, as witnessing their polyphonic acrobatics it’s difficult to imagine a more exciting, or fun a capella group.” Read the full review here.

We were honoured to be amongst such a terrific line-up. Thanks so much to all the great people there helping and making this beautiful Festival happen! Thanks to the people from Sarawak for the heartful welcome dance we all did together.

Early next morning we flew to Brunei, which was also really special: The rehearsal started with a cencorship meeting. Different country, different culture, different rules. We had fun with a lovely crowd in Brunei, and thank you, Mr. Domas from the German Embassy, it was great to get to know you and your family!

Again we experienced what might be the most important insight: Music is the language that crosses every (!) border. From colourful Kuala Lumpur over deeply traditional Borneo/Sarawak to the rich and strictly muslimic Brunei. And what’s more: The hospitality and warmness of the Malaysian people is incredible and we felt like home right away again!
Thank you Malaysia for a warm welcome! Terima kashi Malaysia!

Slixs is a professional vocal group from Germany. The group, formerly known as Stouxingers, frequently tours in Germany, the European countries and just returned home from their second trip to Malaysia. Be sure to check out their website and Facebook fanpage. If you have similar tour reports, send them to info@vocal-blog.net – it’s fantastic to learn more about global a cappella exchange.

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