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”:
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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