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Africappella – German eye- and ear-witness report

Michel Peters - Acappellazone

Michel Peters – Acappellazone

by Michel Peters, booker at Acappellazone Freiburg, February 19, 2016

It was almost over before it had even started. When reading all the e-mails concerning visa issues and travel preparations between Josh Pule (Africappella’s founder and band leader) and Florian Städtler (Acappellazone CEO) nobody would have thought that in about two weeks’ time a memorable journey between two cultures would take place. Let alone, that within this trip the South African perspective of Germans and also the German perspective of South Africans would be fundamentally changed to the both side’s astonishment.

In many aspects the arrival of Africappella must have been a shocking experience. In – for South African terms – freezing cold 10°C the six members disembarked in Frankfurt after a 16-hours flight. Acappellazone’s booker and artist manager Oliver Adamczyk picked the group up at Frankfurt Airport and brought them down to Freiburg. The German “Autobahn” probably was the next shocking experience. Two of the group had to take the German high speed train ICE (Intercity Express) which brought the next shock for our South African friends: German train ticket prices.

With Cluster after the Freiburg showcase

With Cluster after the Freiburg showcase

While the rest of the Acappellazone team was preparing for the “Internationale Kulturbörse Freiburg 2016” one of the biggest promoter and artist fairs in Germany the group arrived. The first gig on this fair was already scheduled on the next day. This is possibly the toughest crowd in whole Germany (70% promoters and other music business professionals) – so the pressure was on right from the beginning. In a double show of roughly 30 minutes Africappella were the first to perform before the second act of the day came on: Italy’s vocal music stars Cluster from Genova. It was a remarkable double bill under challenging conditions in which a first glimpse of that unique African vocal music spirit started to spread.

Later that day the whole team was scheduled to have a first get-to-know dinner at a close by restaurant. It became clear very quickly that this special group of people fit in perfectly with our team.  Within two hours the remaining days of the group’s stay was planned out in detail. The program included travels through the world famous Black Forest, sightseeing tours through Freiburg and dinner parties.

However, even though the group looked desperately for their first ever snow experience they couldn’t make out one bit of white landscape. Germany was enduring one of the warmest winters of the last decade. It wasn’t until their next concert in Herdwangen when they finally saw and touched snow for the very first time. And it wasn’t just snow. Robert Franz, tour manager and sound engineer with Acappellazone drove the group into the heart of the Black Forest when a sudden snow storm hit South-West Germany. But while Robert was freaking out and desperately tried to get the group to their destination in one piece, Africappella had a very different perspective on the situation. The results were several snowball fights and giant snow angel marks on the side of the road. Clearly, it’s all a matter of perspective.

When they had arrived in the small town of Herdwangen, all thoughts of the winterly cold were melted away by the warmth and hearty atmosphere that arose between the audience and Africappella. In the end, several cheering spectators climbed the stage, gave hugs to the band members and handed over flowers. For sure one of the lasting memories of Africappella’s first trip to Germany, just as special as discovering Feierling’s “Brunhilde” dark beer and enjoying delicious homemade Mexican food.

Saying goodbye with souvenirs and a gift for the soon-to-be-born Africappella baby

Saying goodbye with souvenirs and a gift for the soon-to-be-born Africappella baby

The farewells were spoken with the certainty that this must not be the last time that we welcomed these great singers and wonderful people here in Germany. As a special souvenir they got something for their playful spirits and their children back at home as well.

Farewell, Africappella. And see you soon in Germany and many other European countries.

Michel Peters is a booker and project manager at the Acappellazone headquarters in Freiburg, Germany. He has sung with Jazzchor Freiburg, is a big football fan and a “totally together guy”. (Florian Städtler)

You can book Africappella for future tours via Acappellazone, Oliver Adamczyk, oliver@acappellazone.com, phone +49 621 40 76 01. You can find more information about the group by clicking on this link or going to their website www.africappella.com.

 

LACF2016 Vocal Jog

Always on the run…

by Florian Städtler, Vocal Jog evangelist

Those of you who are new to Vocal Blog or have not been to an international a cappella festival (yet) might think it’s a typo. No, it isn’t: Besides the Vocal Blog (your favourite online vocal music magazine) there is the Vocal JOG. What the FORK is this? It all began with realizing that being on tour often means the following: Take a plane or train to some airport, drive to a hotel, hurry to the venue, soundcheck, concert, after show party, sleep (a bit), have breakfast at hotel, drive to train station or airport and be gone. Gone without the slightest idea about the place you just “visited”. On top of that rather frustrating kind of spending time in probably nice places, life on tour is not particularly healthy: either too little or too much or too fast food, alcohol, little sleep and constant rushing from one place to the other.

So could there be anything better than physical activity to get the stress out? And wouldn’t it be nice to see a bit more than another run-of-the-mill hotel room and the backstage areas of the world? I realized that if you have your running shoes and suitable clothes with you all the time, there is almost always a half hour and a shower, that gives you that wonderful feeling of fresh air in your lungs and a perspective on the city or landscape you are at the moment. To motivate more people at vocal music festival to join me, I gave this “project” the name Vocal Jog and after a lot of unsuccessful efforts to find running mates, I finally had the first group Vocal Jog at London A Cappella Festival 2012. The six of us went up Primrose Hill (a proper British “mountain”…) and down in vocal music and sports history. 2013, 2014 and 2015 we did it again: Despite of after show parties the night before and rather cold London mornings, some brave Vocal Joggers made it up the Hill and back to more LACF activities right after the Vocal Jog challenge.

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

So here’s the next opportunity for all of you who are in London on Saturday, 30th of January! Join us for the Fifth More Or Less Official LACF 2016 Vocal Jog, here is the schedule and the most important details:

    • 08:15am – meeting and start at The Premier Inn (26-30 York Way, London N1 9AA) for those who want to do a relaxing run of about 50-60 minutes
    • 08:35am – next meeting point is the Chester Gate entrance of Regent’s Park (tube station: Regent’s Park, follow the Outer Circle counterclockwise = Northbound and meet us at the gate opposite of the road called Chester Gate; this is recommended for Vocal Joggers who would like to run approximately 30 minutes
Vocal Jog 2013 heroes: Hans Cassa, Florian Städtler, Christopher Sutton, Liz Swain, John Lau

Vocal Jog 2013 heroes: Hans Cassa, Florian Städtler, Christopher Sutton, Liz Swain, John Lau

    • 08:45am - meeting point for the “Nordic Talkers”, those who only want to talk a walk of about 15 minutes to the top of Primrose Hill is the crossing of Prince Albert Road and Albert Terrace
    • 09:00am – For those who just want to watch and cheer at the VocalJoggers (= fans, groupies, tweeps), wait for us on top of Primrose Hill, you won’t be able to miss us. Depending on the weather you will be rewarded by a wonderful view over the city including the London Eye and all.
    • 09:30am – return to the Premier Inn, feel free to welcome the Vocal Jog heroes!

 

Here’s the link to the complete route on Google Maps. Find updates at the Vocal Jog Facebook fan page and if you want to be part of this fantastic #LACFextra #VocalJog experience, don’t miss it and join us along the way. The current world record of participants is 6 runners – London, I know we can beat this! For urgent questions, call the Vocal Jog hotline at +49 171 201 50 66.

Größere Kartenansicht

Meet you on the LACF2016 track on Saturday morning – can’t wait!


I’m Florian Städtler, an amateur-runner, an ex-singer and – before the Vocal Jog took off – had to learn about “The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner” the hard way. Like music, workout is a highly social activity. I think running after an after-show party is simply the best. At least when it’s over.

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Vokal Total Concert Festival 2015

by Juliana Baron, Vocal Blog Asia, November 2015

Vokal Total 2015 in Munich – a series of a cappella concerts

Oops, Vocal Blog “Asia” from Vokal Total in Munich??? Yes, it’s me again, traveling around the globe to visit the biggest A Cappella Festival in Germany: Vokal Total. Don’t confuse it with the International A Cappella Competition vokal.total in Graz. Munich’s Vokal Total is a 3-months series of a cappella concerts (October to December) bringing the crème de la crème of vocal bands not only from Germany but from various countries to Munich. It is a pity not living close by, but me coming from Shanghai – there is no excuse for anyone in Europe to not visit this amazing festival. Thanks to the variety of different vocal groups, you will for sure find the right concert and it is also thanks to Romy Schmidt who’s hosting the Vokal Total that every year you can see the top groups and high potential newcomer groups performing in one of the 3 event locations Tonhalle, Freiheiz or Spectaculum Mundi.

Asking Romy about her personal favorite and highlight, she doesn’t know where to start and where to end, her eyes sparkling and you can feel her enthusiasm with which all the audience gets infected sooner or later.

Vokal Total 2015 – that’s 26 concerts, 37 vocal bands:

Maybebop - picture taken by Nicole Brothánek (E&P Brothánek)

Maybebop – picture taken by Nicole Brothánek (E&P Brothánek)

The old stagers of contemporary A Cappella in Germany like the Wise Guys, Six Pack or Maybebop, a huge number of local heroes like La Psychotta, aMuSing, VoiceBreak, One World Project, Terzinfarkt, in-Voice, bar nineteen or Wonnebeats.

Internationally well-known choirs like the Brasilian choir Cantares from Munich, the Jazzchor Freiburg or Voices In Time.

International groups like Cadence and Eh440 from Canada, Rock4, The Junction and iNtrmzzo from the Netherlands, Vocal Six from Sweden, Safer Six and zwo3wir from Austria, INVIVAS from Switzerland, FOOL MOON from Hungary.

Many more stars and rising stars of the a cappella horizon: Viva Voce, Delta Q, basta, ONAIR, Füenf, A Cappella hoch 4, malebox, Vocal Recall, Les Brünettes, str8voices, cash-n-go, Suchtpotential, Elevator Pitch.

What’s so special about Vokal Total and how did a cappella evolve in Germany? – Who knows better than Maybebop, the outstanding vocal band from Northern (!) Germany. Maybebop didn’t miss a single Vokal Total.

 

 

You shouldn’t wait long though to get your tickets. Most of the concerts get sold out very fast and people will queue in front of the entrance hoping to get one of the few remaining tickets.

The 8 last chances, unless you can wait until Vokal Total 2016:

Fri 27.11.2015 – The Junction (Spectaculum Mundi)

Sat 28.11.2015 – Delta Q (Spectaculum Mundi)

Sun 29.11.2015 – Rock4 (Spectaculum Mundi)

Fri 4.12.2015 – basta (Freiheiz)

Sat 5.12.2015 – ONAIR (Freiheiz)

Sun 6.12.2015 – Füenf (Spectaculum Mundi)

Sat 12.12.2015 – A Cappella hoch 4 (Freiheiz)

Sun 13.12.2015 – Voices In Time (Freiheiz)

Next year will be the 20th anniversary of Vokal Total. Like most of the visitors who want to come back every year, I am already looking forward and very curious who will be the newcomers and top groups participating in 2016. Stay tuned!

Julian Knörzer – Beatbox your choir!

by Florian Städtler, who interviewed German beatboxer and author of “Beatbox your choir!”,  Julian Knörzer for Vocal Blog

Julian Knörzer

Julian Knörzer

Beatboxing and vocal percussion are an essential part in all choirs and vocal groups today. Julian’s book and hybrid DVD not only provides a systematic and practical instruction on how to learn all relevant techniques, it also shows how a vocal percussionist can support his own ensemble. It is designed for both newcomers as well as advanced vocal percussionists. „Beatbox Your Choir“ is well suited for you to systematically learn and improve techniques or to choose your favorite sounds and patterns for your daily practice.

17 recorded Loop Songs of different genres give room for beatbox accompaniment to directly implement the learnt material.

On 123 pages and with the attached hybrid-DVD (with video- and audio segments) a wide learning and practice ground provides:

-          The most important beatbox sounds (numerous video tutorials – each technique is easily displayed and explained)

-          Rhythmic basics and the standard structure of drum patterns

-          Over 77 patterns of different musical genres

-          Over 15 rock fills

-          17 recorded Loop Songs as „Beatbox-Alongs“ written by Bertrand Gröger, Leopold Hoepner, Till Buddecke, Christian Ronsfeld, Julia Pellegrini, Tamino Franz and Julian Knörzer.

-          An additional chapter about ensemble accompaniment and beatboxing

-          Practice tips and practice material

-          An FAQ catalogue with contributions from choral conductors all over Germany.

For all recordings of the Loop Songs I could assemble an ensemble of Stephanie Neigel and Julia Pellegrini (Les Brünettes) as well as Sebastian Hengst and Leopold Hoepner (Delta Q)

 

Julian, every young person  who decides to become a musician knows this question: „Can you make a living by being a musician?“ You as a beatboxer have made this your profession. How often have you heard this question? And what do you answer your concerned relatives?

People in the audience frequently ask this question. I am very grateful that I am able to work in projects that go very well. It seems that I’ve found the right niche. 10 years ago I would have never thought that I could be a professional beatboxer or vocal percussionist. My relatives have witnessed all highs and lows in a musician’s life. They have seen that it can be very stressful and energy consuming but they also saw that I do make a living as a beatboxer although becoming a teacher would have been the safer one for sure.

Mehr…

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Let the People Sing – 2015 Finals

by Andreas W. Zehent, Munich, Germany

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The finals of the prestigious international choral competition “Let the People Sing“ are taking place in Munich (Germany) this weekend. “Let the People Sing“ is a competition founded by BBC and now organized by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). Every other year the finals are hosted in a different city. This time, it is hosted by the Bavarian radio and television station Bayerischer Rundfunk (BR).

On Saturday, October 10 there is a great choral get-together at the University for Music and Theater Munich where you can hear the Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks – one of the best professional choirs in the world – the finalists of 2015 and the two choirs of the finals from the Luxemburg finals two years ago.

 

The Finals 2015

Main Category

  • Sofia Vokalensemble (cond.: Bengt Ollén), Sweden
  • Riga Latvian Society Chamber Choir Austrums (cond.: Arijs Skepasts), Latvia
  • KlangsCala (cond.: Helmut Zeilner), Austria
  • Madrigalchor der Hochschule für Musik und Theater München (cond.: Martin Steidler), Germany

 

Children and Youth Choirs

  • Aarhus Pigekor (Aarhus Girls Choir, cond.: Helle Høyer Vedel), Denmark
  • Romanian Radio Children’s Choir (cond.: Voicu Popescu), Romania
  • Young People’s Chorus of New York City (cond.: Francisco Nunez), USA

 

Open Category

  • Singers Ltd. (cond.: Tim Venvell), England
  • Cosmic Voices Choir (cond.: Vanya Moneva), Bulgaria

 

More Information at  www.br-klassik.de.

 

Sunday evening, 7pm German Time, the competition takes place at the Bavaria Brodcasting Station (BR). There will be a live stream (www.br-klassik.de) via most of the EBU member stations.

„Finale dahoam“ – The Magical Choir as a host

Germany is represented at the finals by one of its best semi-professional choirs. In 2014 the “Madrigalchor der Hochschule für Musik und Theater” won the German Choir Competition (Deutscher Chorwettbewerb) and after a nomination by the Bavarian Broadcasting Station he made it to the finals. At a USA concert trip last year they got the nickname “Magical Choir”, because it’s much more familiar than the German word “Madrigalchor” and people thought it’s a fit with the inspiring sound of this ensemble. We spoke with its conductor, Prof. Martin Steidler.

Martin Steidler is professor for choral conducting at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater München. He is the artistic leader of the Madrigalchor, the Heinrich-Schütz-Ensemble Vornbach and the AUDI Youth Choir Academy. He works with great personalities like Kent Nagano, Julian Pregardien and institutions like the Bavarian State Orchestra, the Academy for Ancient Music Berlin, the Orchestra of the Bavarian Broadcasting Station (BR) on a regular basis. He is traveling around Europe and all over the world with his ensembles and as a guest conductor.

Interview with Prof. Martin Steidler

300px-Heinrich

Welcome Prof. Steidler. On this weekend you’re participating at the choral competition „Let the People Sing“ with your Madrigalchor. The next highlight, after winning the German Choral Competition! What makes your choir that special? Why are you so successful?

The Madrigalchor is a very special ensemble. There are a lot of great personalities, which have decided to share their passion for music and make this to a key attitude in their life. There is always a great YES to everything we are doing und an unbelievable positive energy you can feel when working with the ensemble. This is incredibly inspiring.

More than 70 musical students are singing in your choir. The atmosphere seems to be phenomenal. How do you form this group and lead it to a positive and performance-enhancing spirit?

I try to form this community as a strong team and although there are a lot of students leaving each year we were able to establish this as a part of the university and the choral life in our region. Therefore we look at the details and keep an eye on exciting projects, a good structure, efficient rehearsals and we give room on a personal level. We always find new talents and able to integrate them in our community.

You are performing at choral competitions, with different orchestras, cooperating with the BR and you have the daily projects at university. How do you handle your time plan and where do you draw the line?

This is a balancing act. I have to choose every project very carefully. The students and other courses may not be influenced too much and so we are not able to sing every project, when invited. The quality of the music, the variety of the repertoire and how it fits the strengths of the choir and the opportunity of interesting partnerships determine this process.

Despite all this projects a competition final like „Let the Peoples Sing“ is a special Highlight?

Yes of course. The conjoint effort and focus gives an incredible strong input. Working on a short program, rehearsing very intensively on every detail is incredibly enriching. The choir profits the whole year, because the concentration and quality in our work helps us to cross borders we wouldn’t be able to cross in our daily routine.

What is so unique about this competiton?

The quality of the ensembles, the internationality and the worldwide broadcasting.

Is it something special for you to host it in your hometown Munich?

Yes, it’s a special honor to be the co-host for choirs from all over the world.

And you want to win?

We want to share our passion and all the things we could experience I our rehearsals: intensity, collective emotion, elation and musical interpretation. That’s the goal. We want to stretch the arc of suspense and deliver the best possible performance at the competition.

Thank you for this interview. Now you can convince us on Sunday evening at 7 pm. We can watch and listen the live stream all around the world.

 

 

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