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Archiv für April, 2011

Aren’t we The Real Group? (courtesy of

30. April 2011 1 Kommentar

by Clare Wheeler; thanks to Amy Malkoff of CASA for permission to post this article originally posted at

The Swingle Singers are an interesting mix of people to be in an a cappella group. Other than our bass Kevin who came to us fresh from 9 years in the Canadian a cappella group Cadence, none of us come from an a cappella background. Upon joining the group, it’s then a crash course of working out what’s going on, and who’s making it happen! We come from choral backgrounds, jazz, musical theatre, opera…instrumental*, even. It might seem unforgivable that we might not have heard of  The Real Group before joining The Swingle Singers, but we have more than a few culprits. Myself included. On the bus yesterday, I heard CJ describing TRG’s famous song, “Chilli Con Carne” by Anders Edenroth, to Oli, our newest member. He animatedly retold the story about how Anders had been doing his military service in Sweden, and started making up a song from the recipe book he was cooking from…(I’m sure you can picture the scene. I’ll give you a moment). CJ lights up, emphatically imitating parts of the song – he is a huge TRG fan. Oli nods politely, having not yet heard this song. Jo reminds CJ of how he came to know it…and I thought this was a cute story.

CJ (along with Jo and Lucy) used to sing in Britain’s National Youth Choir, and this was a popular encore choice for them, after what would often be a more classical-based concert. He thought the name Anders Edenroth was the most incredible name he’d ever heard and never forgot it. He downloaded it from l*mewire (cough…don’t tell) and it labelled it as by The Swingle Singers. Scandalously lied to by the internet, he believed for years that it was by the Swingles. Years later CJ came to audition for us, and joined the group.  There followed a text conversation that went something like this:

CJ: Why don’t we perform “Chilli Con Carne”? It’s awesome!
Jo:  Because it’s by The Real Group.
CJ: What? Aren’t we the real group?
Jo: What? No, we’re The Swingle Singers. What?
CJ: But aren’t we the real Swingle Singers?

* see dictionary definition.

[Stay tuned for upcoming entries from Clare!]

About the author:
Clare Wheeler is a jazz singer, composer and arranger. She sings alto with The Swingle Singers, and lives in London. She studied violin and voice at Chethams School of Music, Manchester, and then jazz composition and singing at Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. A fan of travelling, eating chocolate-based foods and Twitter. She is also known as @dinkyswingle, Wheelie or Wheels.

The Dutch Sing-Off Finals – Reviewed

20. April 2011 3 Kommentare

by Robert-Jon Eckhardt

Well, here we are. At the other side of the Dutch Sing-Off. Let’s reflect!

Of course, let’s start with the finals themselves, which were slightly unfulfilling to me. Once again I think they did a good job with the format, eliminating two groups after the first round of singing and letting the two remaining groups battle it out in the final round with two huge hits; Jay-Z’s “Empire state of mind” and “End of the road” by Boyz II Men.

But I could’ve done with just a little more drama. (Which means something, coming from someone who despises any form of unnecessary hoo-hah.) This is the final episode and we are talking a Sony recording contract. A special guest-performance would’ve been in place, for instance. But with the shortened broadcasting time of an hour, all we got were six performances, which were good, a few empty jury comments and two instances of unfounded elimination. This one did not go out with a bang.

Wait! – you say – what about the big final performance? Allright, it was nice to see the jury and host performing with all the groups. Tooske can actually sing! And Karin Bloemen brought some great singing action to the stage. But honestly, we’ve seen “Use Somebody” done before, and better, in the second episode. And it would’ve been nice to show some respect to the losing groups by letting them have their solo parts and according screen time.

But let’s not forget about the groups! Heartbeat and Jade got voted out first. Not my picks per se, but I thought any of the four groups deserved to win, or lose, for different reasons. Rumors are going round that Jade is going on tour, with or without iNtrmzzo, and I’ll definitely get myself a ticket. They’ve shown what they can do in a few weeks of rehearsing and I’d love to see them after a few months of that. I’m not so sure about the future of Heartbeat though. We’ll surely hear more from lead-singer Jared, but the group didn’t seem too tight to me.

I thought Sharp did very well overall, but they weren’t able to wow me on enough occasions. I agree on them getting second place. I’m very excited about seeing them live on Bo’s final exams, June 14th in Hengelo. Finally, I thought Gentle Voices made a great winner. Both their renditions of “I wish” and “End of the road” were great, and they’re showing some consistently professional performances. They have the complete package of a tight bond, awesome musicality and a spoonful of charisma. If any of the groups deserves to create an album, it’s them.

So here we are, at the other side of the Dutch Sing-Off. It didn’t go over as well as most of us hoped or expected it to, but I loved every second of it. I sincerely hope SBS gets clear on why such a successful format was able to flop so badly, and doesn’t make the same mistakes again in the future. As for us, we have to cut our losses and see how we can get the best out of this. Overall, there were still close to 400.000 people watching a show about a-cappella music, and some of them must’ve gotten inspired, right? Let’s be open to those people entering the a-cappella world.

I’d like to thank everyone who worked on the show for what they’ve done for the Dutch vocal scene, even though we might not see it just yet. I’d like to thank the participating groups for the risk they took, and the hours of sleep they missed while doing their pioneering work. And especially, I’d like to thank Deke Sharon for being a vocal daddy to everyone who was even remotely interested in the show. For his endless patience in addressing everyone in a personal and friendly manner. And for his inspiring commitment to our kind of music. Thank you.

Sing-Off // out.

Stay tuned with Robert-Jon via his blog or follow him via Twitter

Did you see the Dutch version of the Sing-Off? What do you think? Do you think the show would work in your country? We’re looking forward to your comments, views and reviews. And if you’ve not done so already, join the Vocal Blog Facebook group and follow us at Twitter.

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The European Voices Manifesto

6. April 2011 2 Kommentare

by Peder Karlsson (The Real Academy), Tobias Hug (The Swingle Singers), Jim Daus Hjernoe (The New Vox North), Volker Bauer (A Cappella Online), Peter Martin Jacob (magenta concerts), Tilo Beckmann (leading voices) and Florian Städtler (Vocal Blog)

The EVA core team, Ludwigshafen/GER 2010

These are exciting times for contemporary vocal music in Europe. The pioneers and legends of the vocal and a cappella scene are passing on the baton to an ever-growing number of amateur and pro vocal groups, festivals, schools. Slowly but surely vocal music is becoming more audible and visible in mainstream media. Global companies are using singers, beatboxers and vocal groups for their marketing, e.g. T-Mobile (“Welcome Back” London Vocal Flash Mob).

With all these things happening, a core group of a cappella activists started to work on a European vision of contemporary vocal, a cappella and choral music. Exactly one year ago we started a journey and today we want to make you, people who proved that they get things done musically and business-wise, passengers on this journey.

After one year of preparation, discussion and mutual inspiration, Peder Karlsson (The Real Academy), Tobias Hug (The Swingle Singers), Jim Daus Hjernøe (Aalborg Conservatory, The New Vox North), Peter Martin Jacob (magenta concerts), Tilo Beckmann (leading voices), Volker Bauer (A Cappella Online) and Florian Städtler (Vocal Blog) are excited to present you with a new organisation working for all people dedicated to our art form, vocal music: The European Voices Association (EVA)

As a very first step, we wrote the European Voices Manifesto, which lays down the principles that EVA stands for.

We are now asking all those of you who are responsible for the incredible development of European vocal music to sign the Manifesto to show your support.  If you haven’t done so yet, send a digital scan of your signature to

If that’s a technical problem, just send your signature on a piece of paper to the EVA contact adress. More information about the plans for the European Voices Association, the Manifesto and the EVA core team members can be found at, our first humble online proof of existence. And here are the names of those who already joined the movement and showed their support for the Manifesto (in alphabetical order:)

Lucy Bailey (The Swingle Singers/UK), Daniel Barke (Tonalrausch/GER), Volker Bauer (A Cappella Online/GER), Marco A. Billep/GER), Sara Brimer (The Swingle Singers/UK), Fausto Caravati (Solevoci/ITA), Emily Dickens (VOCES8/UK), Jean Digby (Singacappella/UK), Deniz Dönmez (SpielPlanVier/GER), Anders Edenroth (The Real Group/SWE), Joanna Eteson-Goldsmith (The Swingle Singers/UK), Jürgen Faßbender (GER), Fabian Fehrenbach (SpielPlanVier/GER), Kevin Fox (The Swingle Singers/UK), Christopher Gabbitas (The King’s Singers/UK), Alexandra Godfree (Voice Festival/UK), Colin T. Graham (UK), Havard Gravdal (Pust/NOR), Oliver Griffiths (The Swingle Singers/UK), Line Groth Riis (Postyr/DK), Andrea Haines (VOCES8/UK), Lydia Haschke (medlz/GER), Maria Heinig (medlz/GER), Jim Daus Hjernoe (The New Vox North/DK), Jesper Holm (Touché/DK), Jonathan Howard (The King’s Singers/UK), Tobias Hug (The Swingle Singers/UK), David Hurley (The King’s Singers/UK), Sandra Hylla (mad4music/GER), Christopher Jay (The Swingle Singers/UK), Peder Karlsson (The Real Academy/SWE), Sabine Kaufmann (medlz/GER), Morten Kjaer (DK), John Kjoller (Basix/DK), Andrea Kühn (SpielPlanVier/GER), Thierry Lalo (The Voice Messengers/FRA), Philip Lawson (The King’s Singers/UK), Claire Long (Music Prod./UK), Charles Alexander MacDougall (VOCES8/UK), Michele Manzotti (ITA), Silvana Mehnert (medlz/GER), Miklos “Mickey” Nemeth (Fool Moon/HUN), Lars Orhoj (DK), Nelly Palmowske (medlz/GER), Staffan Paulson (Vocal Six), Costa Peristianis (Ikon Arts/UK), Ane Carmen Roggen (Pitsj/NOR), Nina Ruckhaber (Jazzchor Freiburg/GER), Romy Schmidt (Spectaculum Mundi/GER), Till Schumann (Unduzo/GER), Kristian Skarhoj (Songs of the Moment/DK), Joakim Skog (SWE), Barney Smith (VOCES8/UK), Paul Smith (VOCES8/UK), Robert Robbie Smith (VOCES8/UK), Florian Städtler (SpielPlanVier, Vocal Blog/GER), Indra Tedjasukmana (Sonic Suite/GER), Kristoffer Fynbo Thorning (Postyr/DK), Idun Thorvaldsen (NOR), Elin Valvatne (Apes & Babes/NOR), Marty van der Staak (NED), Saso Vrabic (Perpetuum Jazzile/SLO), Chris Wardle (VOCES8/UK), Cleveland Watkiss (UK), Timothy Wayne-Wright (The King’s Singers/UK), Sebastian Weingarten (Renitenztheater/GER), Clare Wheeler (The Swingle Singers/UK), Eric Whitacre (UK), Holger Wittgen (Kultursommer Rheinland-Pfalz/GER), Dingle Yandell (VOCES8/UK).

Isn’t that amazing!?!

See you in Aarhus!! From left to right: Peter, Jim, Peder, Tobi, Volker, Tilo, Florian

We would love if you added your signature to the Manifesto and want ot meet as many of you as possible at the EVA kick-off meeting. This meeting will mark the foundation of The European Voices Association and will give the opportunity to meet the complete core team and many more movers and shakers of European vocal music. It will take place on the final day of Aarhus Vocal Festival, May 9th 2011, 9:00 am at Aarhus, Musikhuset (Kammermusiksalen). The festival, featuring concerts with Bobby McFerrin, Vocal Line, Pust, Basix, Postyr as well as a fantastic workshop and coaching programme, will go ahead from the 6th to the 9th of May – exactly four weeks from today!

Thank you very much for supporting EVA and for marking Aarhus in your calendars. If you have questions concerning the Manifesto, the kick-off meeting or EVA in general,  feel free to get in touch with Florian Städtler (staedtler@spielplanvier; +49 761 38 94 74) anytime.

Looking forward to getting your feedback and your signatures and meeting all of you in person in Denmark!

Best wishes

Peder, Jim, Volker, Tobi, Peter, Tilo & Florian

Want to contribute to the development of European vocal, a cappella and choral music? Why not write a blog post on your activities, ideas and visions here at Vocal Blog? Or just post your comments and tell the acaworld what you want EVA to achieve for the community!

24/7 A Cappella – Paul Smith’s Tour Report

4. April 2011 Keine Kommentare

from Paul Smith‘s VOCES8 diary, 3rd of April 2011

Monday: Got back from opening a choral festival and performing with 5 choirs from Spain and the Canary Islands at 1:30am! A fantastic couple of days that had included a full concert recorded for Spanish National Radio, and set in beautiful Pamplona.  All the choirs were competing for prizes, and we were there to sing a couple of concerts for them – it was great to spend time with so many passionate singers.

Arrive for an a cappella festival day in Brighton with about 230 singers from 8 different choral groups at 9:30am – really in need of a few cups of coffee! Different members of VOCES8 work all day with different groups, and we also rehearse a couple of joint numbers.  The evening concert is hosted by VOCES8, and we sing a couple of numbers, but we really enjoy listening to the great performances put together by all of the different vocal groups – with student ages ranging from 6 to 18.  The packed out concert venue rises as one to applaud the hundreds of young singers.

We head home to try and get some sleep despite the adrenaline that’s still pumping through our bodies.

Tuesday: The group is off to Cardiff University for a composition masterclass with the Phd students and an evening concert.  A hundred miles into the journey, the VOCES Mobile breaks down! Quick calls, roadside assistance, hire cars and we still make it for the start of the session – just. We spend a few hours working with the students on their contemporary compositions, talking about how we as singers and performers would approach their music, and then we prepare to give a concert.  It’s Andrea’s old university, so a very special day for her.  A great reception from the students, and we enjoy drinks with some of the faculty staff and students after the concert.

Wednesday: Up to Bedford today for workshops with 12 vocal groups in the county.  VOCES8 members are spread far and wide as we help students and vocal groups prepare for the ‘B Festival’ which takes place at the end of April.  Top prize for the competing groups this year is free recording studio time, so all of the 300 or so performers are getting very excited and working really hard for the big day.  And, to make the B Festival even better, we’re going to be joined this year by our good friend, and world class beatboxer, RoxorLoops, as well as one of the newest, hottest groups on the a cappella scene, Apollo 5 (  It’s going to be quite a night!

Thursday: Into Hackney in London for another end of project performance day with 8 choirs from schools in the borough.  About 250 students join us for the afternoon, rehearsing songs with their VOCES8 mentors and then spending some time practicing as a massed choir.  The concert is a great success, but
VOCES8 don’t stay for any post concert drinks tonight, as we have to be up at 3:30am to go to….

Friday: Nigeria.  Oh my god! We head out to Lagos via Amsterdam.  It turns out that one of the people who has booked us is a senior director for KLM.
Great flight. We arrive, are met by US Embassy staff and a security team and driven straight to a champagne reception hosted by the MD of Heineken in Nigeria.  It’s amazing to see the group perk up at the sight of the champagne after 13 hours of travelling…

VOCES8 in Lagos, Nigeria 2011

Saturday: We spend the morning working with some students to prepare them for their evening performance with us, before heading to the US Consulate General’s residency to prepare for the evening performance.  Hours of sound testing for the outdoor event in 33 degree heat leaves us with a tan! The event is sponsored by Moët & Chandon and Heineken, so it’s bound to be a good night! 400 guests arrive in black tie and, along with all of us, make it through many levels of security checks.  The event is so stylish – a stunningly beautiful setting on the waterfront and a night to remember.
Everyone at the event seems to enjoy a cappella music (and a few were rather new to it!)… and James Bond tunes in particular go down well. Fireworks finish the night (accompanied by the Star Wars theme!) and, as if it couldn’t get any better, I win VIP tickets to the Nigerian Cup Final! I don’t think I can make it…

Sunday: Up early (for an a cappella group) and we’re all smiles, as we get driven straight to the Lagos Boat Club, loaded onto the Shell and Heineken speed boats and, in minutes, we’re loving the feel of the wind in our hair as we pass through the amazing harbour, the numerous abandoned tankers and out towards the beach paradise beyond.  After the week we’ve had, it seems like the perfect place to unwind for a few hours.  We spend the day sipping yet more champagne and enjoying time with our new friends from Lagos.  In the last couple of weeks, we’ve performed in Spain, across the UK and in Nigeria, and worked with over 40 vocal groups – and more than 1000 singers – along the way.

And that’s why we love the world of a cappella!

VOCES8 on The Great Wall of China

I’m pretty sure that many of my readers also experience amazing things while being on tour, on stage, backstage and elsewhere in #acappelland. Let us know about it and become a Vocal Blog guest blogger. Feel free to send me your suggestions to – really looking forward to your stories!

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