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Home > Main > Toronto Calling: Voices of SING!

Toronto Calling: Voices of SING!

by Florian Städtler and Aaron Jensen.

Aaron Jensen, SING! mastermind

Aaron Jensen, SING! mastermind

Aaron Jensen, artistic director of SING! – Toronto Vocal Arts Festival which ends today after four days of vocal extravaganca passed on Florian’s questions to some of the participants and organizers of the event. The answers show that SING! is one more fantastic celebration of the international vocal music community. Congrats to Aaron and his team. And if you haven’t been there – how about going to Toronto in 2014?

For those of you who were at SING! and those who answered the questionnaires below – comment on how the festival really went, if you met the people you planned to meet and what you liked most about Toronto’s vocal music highlight of the year. This is a rather long article, but I think the statements by those involved give a very good picture of how SING! inspired everybody.

Suba Sankaran, Age 39, singing with FreePlay Duo, Retrocity, Hampton Avenue, Sing! Singers, and leading the World Collaboration Concert, Canadian (with South Indian roots), Vocalist, arranger, director, collaborator

SING! is a big vocal music community event. What is your contribution to the festival and the community?

I will be contributing in a way that really speaks to my identity as a person and musician: everything from intimate solo singing in the World Concert, to vocal duo and live looping with FreePlay Duo, close harmony and contemporary jazz with Hampton Avenue, a cappella 80s with Retrocity, new works and arrangements with the Sing! Singers, and teaching, arranging and directing in various concerts as well. As far as the community is concerned, I get to use my personal and artistic toolkit while working with both community and professional groups and everything in between! It’s a great way to stretch the voice, ears, mind and body as the teaching and directing so often informs and inspires the performance side, and vice versa.

Who’s the person who you are really looking forward to meeting in Toronto – and why?

I’m looking forward to re-connecting with The Real Group and The Swingle Singers, with whom I’ve already had the pleasure of sharing the stage. The beauty of these sorts of festivals is that it gives us an opportunity to celebrate the voice – something we all have, and something that is unique to each of us – and share our musical cultures under one roof.

Why should vocal music fans from Canada, the US and from all over the world make their trip to SING! ?

It’s a one-stop shop for all things a cappella. The human voice is arguably the most powerful instrument and musical storyteller. With the Sing! Festival, you will hear music spanning several centuries and continents, in every possible style…not to mention the limitless possibilities of the voice!

 

Ilan Muskat, Countermeasure A Cappella, Canadian, 34, logistics coordinator.

SING! is a big vocal music community event. What is your contribution to the festival and the community?

I sing in Countermeasure, a 15-member Toronto a cappella group, and I assist in the organization of the festival with logistics.

Who’s the person who you are really looking forward to meeting in Toronto – and why?

I’m extremely excited to meet the members of The Real Group; I’ve been singing their music for more than fifteen years and it always delights me.

Why should vocal music fans from Canada, the US and from all over the world make their trip to SING! ?

A remarkable gathering of talents from within Toronto’s burgeoning choral and contemporary a cappella community is on display. And the international acts that are joining us are absolutely the best in the world. And much of it is free, and what isn’t is worth many times what you’ll pay. It is exposure to and education in singing at the highest level.

John-Michael Erlendson, BSc, MEng (General Manager SING!) is the co-founder of Countermeasure A Cappella, award-winning composer, recording artist and international performing artist, consulting engineer. Once deemed “the youngest professional songwriter in Canada” at age 11, J-M grew to becoming a key member of internationally-recognized collegiate a cappella groups Onoscatopoeia (the Hart House Jazz Choir at University of Toronto), Varsity Jews (University of Toronto), TBA (Tunes, Beats, Awesome), and his own New Resonance Choir (University of Toronto). He has toured throughout Europe, the UK, Canada and Asia as a singer/songwriter/instrumentalist for 16 years, and represented Canada as a “cultural ambassador” to major events in several foreign countries.

SING! is a big vocal music community event. What is your contribution to the festival and the community?

I am the general manager of SING! and Countermeasure, one of the groups performing at the festival.

Who’s the person who you are really looking forward to meeting in Toronto – and why?

I’m really looking forward to seeing CJ from the Swingle Singers, as I have a huge amount of respect for him as a singer, and really enjoy him as a person!

Why should vocal music fans from Canada, the US and from all over the world make their trip to SING!

SING! has become one of the premiere festivals for all levels of choristers and lovers of vocal music. Young music fans can take workshops with some of the best artists from around the world. Casual and up-and-coming singers can hear a wide variety of free and ticketed performances, as well as take unique professional workshops from top clinicians. Serious music lovers and professionals can hear some of the best music in the world through headline performances. All together, SING! has something for everyone, and vocal music fans should certainly make the trek to Toronto to experience 4 unforgettable days!

 

Daniel Galessiere, 39, Italian-Canadian, vocal performer at SING! with The Watch, Retrocty and the SING! ensemble

SING! is a big vocal music community event. What is your contribution to the festival and the community?

To me SING! is indeed that – a big vocal music community event – but it is so much more; it is an international vocal music, city-wide event.  While my contribution is one of being a vocal performer in the festival, I feel my contribution locally is raising awareness that a capella is alive and well in Toronto, and just as entertaining and enjoyable as any movie, play or concert around.  Raising awareness about local a capella groups and ensembles will hopefully foster an increased interest in watching these groups perform live, year-round.

Who’s the person who you are really looking forward to meeting in Toronto – and why?

It would be very special for me to meet The Real Group. Their musicianship and execution are outstanding.

Why should vocal music fans from Canada, the US and from all over the world make their trip to SING! ?

There are so many reasons:  Toronto is a must-see city; the festival is 80% free which makes it all about sharing great music; the line up of groups is second to none; as a professional the opportunity to network and make connections is invaluable; and on a personal level the friendships formed with other a capella lovers will last a lifetime!

 

Art Mullin, 36, Canadian, bass with Retrocity and The WatchSING! is a big vocal music community event. What is your contribution to the festival and the community?My contribution to SING! is singing!  I sing with two groups that are featured at the festival (Retrocity and The Watch), and I’m also singing backups or as part of a choir in a couple of other concerts. I’ve been spreading the word about the festival, so I suppose my community contribution is letting people know how much great vocal music will be happening in Toronto this weekend.

Who’s the person who you are really looking forward to meeting in Toronto – and why?

I’m looking forward to hearing The Real Group, and would love to meet them. They’re pretty stellar and I’d love to talk shop.

Why should vocal music fans from Canada, the US and from all over the world make their trip to SING! ?

SING! has put together a really eclectic mix of vocal music, rather than focussing on one genre. I think that must be why they use the term “vocal arts”, because their programming covers the gamut of what we can achieve with our voices.

 

Name: David Lee / Group: Countermeasure A Cappella / Age: 29 / Nationality: Korean-Canadian / Role at SING!: singer

SING! is a big vocal music community event. What is your contribution to the festival and the community?

I sing with Countermeasure, which is involved with several events. For me, the highlight will be opening for the Real Group on the Fridaynight performance,

Who’s the person who you are really looking forward to meeting in Toronto – and why?
I really look forward to meeting the Real Group from Sweden, whose CD “Unreal” was the first vocal jazz CD I’ve ever owned. I was 16 at the time, and it both introduced me to the world of vocal jazz music and inspired me to eventually end up in Countermeasure.

Why should vocal music fans from Canada, the US and from all over the world make their trip to SING! ?

Although many participants of SING! live in Toronto and its surrounding area, they have heritage from all over the world because Toronto is a famously multicultural city. So, everything in SING! is quite diverse — be it style of music, the singers, or the culture that they bring to the music they sing.

Gianna Antonacci, Countermeasure, performing at SING!

Why should vocal music fans from Canada, the US and from all over the world make their trip to SING! ?
A love of vocal music is palpable throughout the weekend at SING! The Toronto acappella community creates a welcoming atmosphere where music students, enthusiasts, and professionals connect and learn from each other. To both have the opportunity to see groups like The Swingle Singers and The Real Group perform and also workshop with them in a small group environment is outstanding!

My name is Hayley Preziosi. I sing with Countermeasure A Cappella, I am also a private vocal teacher. I’m 27, Canadian, and I will be performing, volunteering, and taking part in workshops at Sing! This year.

SING! is a big vocal music community event. What is your contribution to the festival and the community?

I am a member of Countermeasure A Cappella, and we will be performing at various concerts throughout the weekend. I am also a vocal teacher and performer, and I look forward to learning and growing as a musician at as many workshops as I’m able to attend throughout the weekend.

Who’s the person who you are really looking forward to meeting in Toronto – and why?

The Real Group and The Swingle Singers – I grew up idolizing these groups in my high school vocal jazz ensembles. These groups represent the goal we all strive for in a cappella in terms of precision, style, blend & performance and to meet and learn from these singers is a priceless opportunity.

Why should vocal music fans from Canada, the US and from all over the world make their trip to SING! ?

If you want to be entertained, you should come. I guarantee you will be opened up to a new musical style or performance you didn’t know was possible without instruments.

Dylan Bell. For groups, see below. Canadian. Age: 41.

SING! is a big vocal music community event. What is my contribution to the festival and the community?

I’m all over this thing, doing ten events with five different ensembles: The Watch (TTBB 4tet), Hampton Avenue (6-part vocal jazz), FreePlay Duo (duo with live looping), Retrocity (80s pop), and the SING! Singers (the a cappella “backup band” for some shows). Plus, I’m doing workshops with Aaron Jensen, and my own workshop on a cappella arranging, with (hopefully) a book-signing session for my book of the same name.

Who’s the person who you are really looking forward to meeting in Toronto – and why?

That’s a tough one. The folks in the “international” groups (the Swingle Singers and the Real Group) have become friends over the years, so I’m always happy to see them again. But the person I’m most excited to see is probably my dear friend Kevin Fox, my former partner in Cadence and my friend of over 20 years.

Why should vocal music fans from Canada, the US and from all over the world make their trip to SING! ?

Well, it’s always exciting to get international-calibre groups from Europe over to North America. But Toronto has an amazing wealth of a cappella talent, and it deserves to be seen by the whole world. Toronto’s vocal scene is a very fertile: this is where Wibi, Cadence, Retrocity and The Watch all came from. Most importantly, it’s a big family, and we invite the world to become a part of it.

Aaron Jensen, Artistic Director SING!, 30 years old, Canadian, Musical Director of Countermeasure, Singer with Retrocity, The Watch, & the SING! Singers

SING! is a big vocal music community event. What is my contribution to the festival and the community?

I am the Artistic Director of SING! The Toronto Vocal Arts Festival, and have done much of the programming of the 100 events featured at SING! this year.

Who’s the person who you are really looking forward to meeting in Toronto – and why?

So many of the performers at this festival are deal friends (both the local groups, and the international ones.) I am really looking forward to working with the choirs (The Elmer Iseler Singers, The Elora Festival Singers, and Cawthra Park Chamber Choir), all of the world ensembles, and of course to my new friends, the Real Group.

Why should vocal music fans from Canada, the US and from all over the world make their trip to SING! ?

SING! is unique in its breadth. We offer an exhaustive schedule of concerts, workshops, collaborations, and interactive events, and more than just presenting artists singing their usual repertoire, we have programmed some exciting concert events that audiences would never see elsewhere: NFB Sings! Concert where classic Canadian short films are paired with vocal artists, World Collaborations Concert which interweaves vocal traditions from Mongolia, Spain, South Africa, Georgia and South India, and a New Works Concert that features new choral settings of poems from every province and territory of Canada. Unlike many other vocal festivals, SING! truly casts the net wide, and showcases artists from every vocal style and tradition including: classical choirs, vocal jazzers, world ensembles, live-looping artists, pop vocal bands, barbershop quartets, collegiate gleeclubbers, folk groups, vocal improv collectives, and even a cappella comedy troupes.

Questions and editing by Florian Städtler, Vocal Blog. See you in Toronto 2014!

 

 

 

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