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Artikel Tagged ‘Voco Novo’

Vocal Asia Festival 2016 in Taitung (Taiwan)

by Juliana Baron, Vocal Blog Asia, August 2016

Impressions of Asia’s biggest A Cappella Festival

It is not possible to give you the full impression on my experience I made during the Vocal Asia Festival 2016 in just one vocal blog post. But let me try to give you at least a glimpse of this years’ biggest A Cappella event in Asia with a record participant number of almost 500 including international and domestic events.

Vocal Asia Festival All Participants

Vocal Asia Festival All Participants

Taitung – a city with long aboriginal a cappella history

Taiwanese Aboriginal Group

Taiwanese Aboriginal Group

The beautiful city of Taitung with a third of the population having aboriginal roots and aboriginal music being mainly vocal music it was the perfect place to be to organize an a cappella festival, combining the contemporary A Cappella music with the local aboriginal vocal music. It’s the birthplace of the Austronesian culture and indigenous tribes preserved the sounds from both the mountains and the seas through their memories from generation to generation.

Together with the variety of Asian music styles and latin american rhythms and sounds from the 2016 master group Vocal Sampling from Cuba, it was the richest and most diverse Vocal Asia Festival (VAF) ever.

Rich diversity of music styles

Dance Group at "Sound of Taitung"

Dance Group at “Sound of Taitung”

Voco Novo and Set Tone Men

Voco Novo and Set Tone Men

This special atmosphere and bridging of traditional with contemporary sounds was best reflected in the Sound of Taitung concert on the second evening. Local aboriginal vocal and dancing groups performed together with contemporary a cappella groups who combined traditional with modern sounds and vocal techniques. Singsong, Mamama Tribe, Chu-Yin Cultural and Arts Troupe, Vusam and Eastern Bunun Youth Music Group electrified the audience the same way like Acapellago from the Philippines, Voco Novo and Gili from Taiwan and Set Tone Men from Hongkong. Once local star singer Sangpuy Katatepan Mavaliyw got on stage, the audience couldn’t hold in and the whole Concert Hall had a blast singing along and wouldn’t stop the repetitive call-response-parts.

The filipino group Acapellago created new sounds out of a Taiwanese ethnic song entitled „Song of Happiness“ dedicated to the Rukai Tribe. Voco Novo surprised with cooperation songs together with Hongkong’s Set Tone Men, with Gili, this year’s winner of the Asian Cup A Cappella competition, as well as with Sangpuy Katatepan Mavaliyw. The evening was filled with a new sound experience, a combination of aboriginal music, traditional poems, modern a cappella music and instrument simulations.

Watch Acapellago’s video on Facebook. Acapellago from the Philippines performed „Song of Happiness“ from the Taiwanese Rukai Tribe: Acapellago at Sound of Taitung

Asian Cup A Cappella Competition – the largest A Cappella Competition in Asia

Competition Participants

Competition Participants

15 groups from 8 different Asian countries were competing at the 3rd Asian Cup A Cappella Competition on the first day of the VAF 2016 August 17th. It was by far the highest level of competing groups in Asia and the Jury had a very hard time to decide on the winners. The Jury consisted of Ray Yi Chu and Jia-Ching Lai from Taiwan, Kaichiro Kitamura from Japan, Michele Weir from California and Rene Baños Pascual from Vocal Sampling, Cuba.

The Winners: Gili (Taiwan)

The Winners: Gili (Taiwan)

Compared to last year’s competition with more homogenous sounds and very similar music styles this time it was much more diverse. The participants represented their cultural background, sometimes with traditional elements of their country and several own compositions. You could experience the evolution of Asian A Cappella music and more self-confidence of the teams relying on their own music style and cultural background.

Acapellago 2nd Price

Acapellago 2nd Price

Although they didn’t win a price, my personal highlight was my former a cappella group Acaism from Shanghai joining the Asia Cup Competition. And although we didn’t part that long ago, we miss each other a lot. On stage, they dedicated one of their songs to me and I couldn’t stop crying as their voices reached directly to my heart.

The Groovies 3rd Place

The Groovies 3rd Place

Special prices were awarded to the Water Singers from Macau and The Apex Project from Singapore. The Third Price was given to two groups: The Groovies from Japan and Doo-Wop Sounds from Korea. Acapellago from the Philippines were awarded with the Second Price. Their performance was amazing and they blew away the audience not only at the competition, they contributed to every single concert during the 4-day festival.

Doo-Wop Sounds 3rd Place

Doo-Wop Sounds 3rd Place

Finally, the champions of the 2016 Asian Cup Competition are Gili from Taiwan. They will represent Asia during the 2017 VoiceJAM, the partner a cappella festival in Northwest Arkansas.

Special act was 尋人啟事人聲樂團 The Wanted Vocal Band who are the winners of 2015 Asian Cup Competition and 2016 VoiceJAM champions. An amazingly refreshing group. I am always fond of meeting and listening to them.

An extract of the Asian Cup Competition – Which group would you have voted for?

Sound of Asia Concert and ACA Day

ACA Day Tiehua Village

The Present (Korea) at ACA Day Tiehua Village

The participating groups of the Vocal Asia Festival get many chances to connect to the local people and spread the catching sounds of a cappella. The ACA Day is like a big open air party at different locations in the hosting city Taitung. The whole afternoon about 20 groups from 8 different countries sang on open air stages in Tiehua Village and MATA  Taiwan Indigenous Cultural Resort. It was incredibly hot that day, but the singers and the audience were having a great time, moving their hips, singing and clapping along – an overwhelming atmosphere.

Acappuccino (Singapore) and me

Acappuccino (Singapore) and me

Another personal highlight was during the Sound of Asia concert. Not only did I join the Single Singers (see previous vocal blog posts) but also I got the chance to collaborate with the Singaporean group Acappuccino. We met last year and became friends at the Vocal Asia Festival in Shanghai. Spontaneously, we decided to sing a song together during the Sound of Asia concert. It was such an honor to be asked guest singer by Acappuccino, I couldn’t reject that offer. And the song they invited me to join had another special meaning to me. Australian Spring by Basix , the group I met at my first Vocal Asia Camp in Shanghai in 2014. It was not about the performance, for us it was all about our friendship, about the basic message of the Vocal Asia Festival, about bridging nations, cultures, distances by doing music together. For me there was no better place than this festival to sing a song together.

Cuban sounds at the VAF 2016

Workshop with Vocal Sampling

Workshop with Vocal Sampling

This years headliner group came from Cuba: Vocal Sampling. It was an interesting combination and I was very curious whether their rhythm and sounds would catch and match the Asian a cappella friends.

During their workshops, they taught the different Cuban and Latin Jazz instrumental sounds and animated the participants to dance and sing along. No doubt they infected everyone with a Cuban summer feeling. At the Gala Concert they made the whole audience in the Arts and Culture Center become a member of Vocal Sampling, nobody remaining on their seats, everyone dancing to Cuban and salsa rhythms, clapping, singing – even in Spanish.

For the Chinese speaking audience they prepared another highlight: 甜蜜蜜 Tian Mi Mi

Get an impression of the six enthusiastic artists from Cuba and watch my interview during the festival:

The best feeling you get by sneaking into the workshops. Stand up while you are watching and move your hips and sing along!

Workshop schedule at the Vocal Asia Festival 2016

Michele Weir: Solo Singing

Michele Weir: Solo Singing

Not only Vocal Sampling was offering workshops and coaching individual vocal groups, instructors from Taiwan, Japan, Hongkong and US gave arranging lessons, coaching sessions, taught about harmony, vocal percussion, stage performance, solo singing and fearless improvisation.

In latter two workshops led by Michele Weir, Jazz educator, arranger, producer and pianist, the participants could practice scat singing, learn about what makes a great jazz performance great and try out their latest learnings in front of the workshop participants.

Scat Singing with Michele Weir

Scat Singing with Michele Weir

Dr. Stephen Gusukuma and Baylor University’s VirtuOSO from Texas shared their process of creating and executing choreography for catching performances.

Jazz Vocal Percussionist Kaichiro Kitamura from Japan shared his knowledge on different percussion grooves and what it takes to be able to work with so many great musicians around the world.

 

Kaichiro Kitamura

Kaichiro Kitamura

Kwok-Tung Fung from Hongkong shared how his group The Gay Singers, the longest running a cappella group in the Chinese speaking region, has developed and the secret of managing a group in the long run.

From Taiwan, the a cappella legends Ray Yi Chu, Christine Liu, Jia-Ching Lai and professor Shawn Chen shared their experiences. Christine leading the Single Singers (see article…), professor Shawn Chen teaching about local sound of Taiwan and Ray and Jia-Ching teaching about what makes a good harmony and how to make a good a cappella arrangement..

The tremendous organizational efforts can be hardly estimated if you consider that in parallel to the international Vocal Asia Festival there was a domestic event with the Taitung Cup A Cappella Competition, the same number of workshops and similar number of local participants to boost the a cappella education in the region.

Education Seminar „The next step of Asia A Cappella Education“

Besides the many workshops and seminars, the a cappella education representatives from different Asian countries exchanged success stories and talked about the future of Asian A Cappella Education.

Sung Mo Han and Kaichiro Kitamura

Sung Mo Han and Kaichiro Kitamura

Moderated by Wuming Chen, Angelina Choo from Singapore, Howard Cheung and Ray Yi Chu from Taiwan, Jo Jo Pang from Hongkong, Kaichiro Kitamura from Japan, Sung-Mo Han from Korea and the audience from all over Asia discussed how to develop local teachers for a cappella to effectively increase the interest, spread and improve the skills even in smaller cities and towns. Not all methods work well in all countries, but there is a lot to learn from each other and best practices are exchanged.

Education Seminar

Education Seminar

The educational consultant of Vocal Asia and the President of the Korea A Cappella Education Association Sung Mo Han spontaneously demonstrating teaching without scores.

The a cappella educational activities in the different countries are promising and already show a huge success. There is more to come, more to align and exchange and it will be interesting to follow and track the future initiatives.

Next year the Vocal Asia Festival will take place in Hongkong. I’m already excited and can’t wait to join. Hope to see many of you in Hongkong!

Vocal Asia Festival 2015 – Impressions of Day 3

17. September 2015 1 Kommentar

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

by Juliana Baron, Vocal Blog Asia, September 2015

And here comes part 3 of my first-hand impressions on last month’s Vocal Asia Festival (VAF) in Shanghai:

Day 3: His soul was reaching directly to my heart

Friday morning (Aug 7) „Aca Papa“ Ray Chu  from Taiwan gave us a fun warm-up session including some body percussion and tai chi exercise.

Then, it was time to learn about the secret how to become an instrument. In their second workshop „How to do your vocal play“  Naturally 7 taught different techniques to imitate drums, harmonica or even DJ scratching sounds. The participants could try their vocal play together with N7. Hilarious was the performance of „DJ scratcher“ Rod Eldridge from N7 together with “Fishball”, the talented VP of the Taiwanese group Mixter.

Rod Eldridge from N7 (USA) and Fishball from Mixter (Taiwan) having a funny vocal play duet.

Garfield Buckley from N7 teaching his harmonica sound.

Garfield Buckley from N7 teaching his harmonica sound.

Deke Sharon coaching The Wanted (Taiwan).

Deke Sharon coaching The Wanted (Taiwan).

In the afternoon, again a lot of workshops in parallel, some groups received professional coaching from  Naturally 7 or  Deke Sharon. Deke also gave some deeper insight of how to produce a cappella for major media in his workshop „Behind the Scene: Aca in media“. And Ray Chu, the pop and artistic director of the Taiwan Choral Music Center, together with Christine Liu (musical director of Voco Novo) talked about how the western sound of a cappella meets the eastern image of poems in their workshop „Poetic A Cappella“.

I had a talk with Ray on how A Cappella developed in Taiwan.

Interview with „Aca Papa“ Ray Chu from Taiwan

Ray Chu demonstrating Tai Chi exercise in the warm up session.

Ray Chu demonstrating Tai Chi exercise in the warm up session.

Juliana: Ray Chu, you are the „Aca Papa“ of Taiwan or even Asia. Everyone who knows you simply loves you! What have you done, what is your secret…?

Ray: I love them too, that’s simple.

Juliana: (laugh) A Cappella in Taiwan is becoming more and more popular and Taiwanese a cappella groups are increasingly successful all around Asia. The Wanted, a Taiwanese group of six high school students, won the 2015 China Competition as well as the Asia Cup Competition a few days ago. How would you describe the development of a cappella in Taiwan?

Ray: In Taiwan, what we did is we invited a lot of European groups coming to Taiwan to have „tour concerts“. Every group who came had about 10 to 12 concerts all over Taiwan in different cities. We did that since 2005 until now, so it’s been many years by now. So, many cities, many places, many groups have seen good groups from Europe. So, they have opened their eyes and their ears. I think, that is the most important contribution to their improvement. They can hear a good sound, so they can imitate or have a good choice of repertoire. I think it is a very good method to let them learn. Actually, Taiwanese a cappella started really late, about 15 years later than Japan, Korea and also Singapore. But now, we catch up. I think, this is all thanks to the many international groups visiting us. And we have a lot of international events in Taiwan. I think, our competitions are the most significant competitions in whole Asia, because we invite all the champions and winners from all over the world to compete in Taiwan. So, our competitions become really high standard.

Juliana: Would you say that A Cappella in Taiwan is more developing and copying Western styles or do they develop their own style.

Ray: At the beginning it was more like Western styles. We learnt a lot from them. And then we were thinking, what do we have ourselves. So, what Christine (Liu) and I am doing, we are doing a lot of poem rearrangements in Taiwan that we use a lot of oriental or Chinese elements into rearrange or compose these poems and rearrange by foreigners like some Chinese arrangers like Christine. So we did a lot of oriental things now. And I think it is very successful. West and East, the combination of melody and western language, music language, pop language, jazz language… It is suitable, a very good combination.

Juliana: What is your impression about the Asia Cup winners „The Wanted“?

Ray: Well, of course, they are very good. But they are still high school or just graduated. I am waiting for them if they can still continue at college time. And they have to go through military service and all these things. So, looking at their future, of course … We will see.

Juliana: Deke Sharon said, they have the potential to become the Pentatonix of Asia.

Ray: Well, that must be after college, after military service. They have to be stable in life first. They are still students. I don’t want them to be professional in college time, they have to finish their studies. They have to grow up also mentally and they have to be mature before doing these things. This is better for them (laugh)

Juliana: I am really interested in your special method of teaching without scores, the chord singing. You are even teaching a choir of blind singers.

Ray: Yes, I do. Of course, they have to learn by listening. So, actually I use a software called Vocaloid, a singing voice synthesizer which can read out the lyrics, even the Chinese lyrics. So I can divide the parts for them with lyrics. So with this software it is easier now. But still,every time, every song that I use Vocaloid, I need 3 to 4 hours to finish all the individual parts for them to practice.

Juliana: How do you approach your choir of blind people? Is there anything special you have to prepare or consider?

Ray: Actually, I treat them like anybody else. That’s the right way. Don’t treat them like they are blind. Sometimes, I even say: „Look at that“ – They will say „you know I can’t see“ – „Oh, I’m sorry!“ (laugh). You know, just purposely treat them like ordinary people. That’s the way.

Juliana: I wish you great success in the future, continue your fantastic contribution to choir music and a cappella! We love you all! (laugh)

Ray: I love you all!

Just 4 hours before the VAF Concert and our opening performance, we had our second and last 90-minutes-class of Single Singers. Since last rehearsal we lost about 20 people, maybe they were too scared to perform. But we won Kaichiro Kitamura, a brilliant vocal percussionist from Japan, who would support us on stage. I forgot to mention that the two songs we were intending to sing were arrangements from DeltaCappella, the special guests from Memphis, Tennessee, and from Naturally 7, the master group of this festival.

I don’t know if the idea of singing „Easy“ in front of DeltaCappella and singing „Soldier Down“ in front of Naturally 7 was more exciting or more frightening, especially at that level of practice. Never ever have I been so ill-prepared before going on stage. But the rehearsal turned out to be my favorite moment of the day. None of us expected this big surprise: both groups DeltaCappella and Naturally 7 joined our last rehearsal, practiced and sang with us. Standing next to Garfield Buckley and singing my Solo of Soldier Down with him – it is hard to describe, but it felt just like his soul was reaching directly to my heart and without any words he was teaching me how to sing and feel this song. Vocal music is indeed strong and intimate. This was absolutely my moment of the day! Thank you, Garfield!

 

A snapshot of Single Singers’ rehearsal with Naturally 7.

The Single Singers' performance at the VAF Concert in the evening of day 3

The Single Singers’ performance at the VAF Concert in the evening of day 3