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Archiv für Januar, 2015

The 7 London A Cappella Festival Rules

by Florian Städtler, Vocal Blog founder

Florian Steve Jobs live Städtler (Foto Ellen Schmauss)

Germany loves rules and regulations. That’s how we build these machines and cars that the rest of the world still pays lots of money for. So it’s been long overdue to write a listicle listing the rules that you should follow to fully and very efficiently enjoy the first highlight of the year, London A Cappella Festival, which happens to take place this weekend at King’s Place.

Rule 1: Be there. True, there is a growing number of vocal music festivals in Europe and all over the world. But London A Cappella has grown into a real gem. No better place and time to hear the best international and UK vocal groups and meet a cappella fans, movers and shakers from all over the world. People to meet: Jessica Hill (Ikon Arts), Costa Peristianis (Ikon Arts), Clare Girard (The Swingles), Oliver Griffiths (The Swingles), Alex Godfree (Voice Festival UK), Tobias Hug (Everybody Needs A Hug).

Rule 2: Talk to people. Actually the easiest thing in the world. Everybody in the vocal music community is more than happy to share his personal musical experience with you. You can learn so much about vocal music in countries from Finland to France, from Italy to the UK, from Singapore to Canada. People to meet: Henry Southern (The Sons of Pitches, UK), Hans Cassa (Montezuma, NED), Danny Ozment (Emerald City Productions, USA), David Longo (Sled Dog Music Group, USA)

Rule 3: Get involved (1). This festival is not only about the “stars” of the scene being admired by a stunned audience. It’s about everybody being involved in the festival buzz. So if you yourself want to perform, become  a member of the incredible “Single Singers” project, that offers the opportunity to sing in an instant international choir, that has had performances at several international vocal music events. People to meet: Annemarie Homann (Single Singers co-founder, NED/ITA), Emily May ‘t Hoen (Single Singers co-founder, NED), Hans Cassa (Single Singers, part-time musical director)

Rule 4: Get involved (2). As you might have heard, it’s “all about that bass.”. Well, all (!) the women at LACF have started to adore (and talk about) Club for Five’s Tuukka Happaniemi after their very successful show on Friday night, that’s even more true. But even from the perspective from an envious ex-tenor 1, I have to recommend a group that consists of bass singers only. Founded by The Swingles bass Ed Randell, “Woofer” is delighting the LACF crowds with low-frequency versions of The Bee Gees’ (!!) “How Deep is your Love”, Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” (a more obvious choice) and other musical treats slightly below the capacities of the human ear. People to meet: Edward Randell (The Swingles), Kevin Fox (The Swingles), Tuukaa Hapaniemi (Club for Five), special guest Jonathan Howard (The King’s Singers)

On top of the Vocal Jog world

On top of the Vocal Jog world

Rule 5: Get involved (3) and stay fit. According to a real a cappella fitness luminary, Jonte Ramsten (FORK) “The nerdiest thing one can imagine” is the Vocal Jog. Yes, Jog, i.e. singers or a cappella fans running. I started this out of frustration that I never had a chance to get an impression of the cities I toured to and the lack of time to walk around beautiful places like St. Petersburg, Osaka, Heidelberg or Geneva. So part of this rule is to always bring your running shoes and clothes to every festival you’re visiting. And then move out of your comfort zone and meet for a run even after a great after show party and more festival activities to come. So if you want to be part of that unique (and rather exclusive) community of running a cappella nerds, like the Vocal Jog Facebook page. People to meet: Florian Städtler (Chief Jogging Executive, Head of Pacemaking, GER), Hans Cassa (Vocal Jog veteran, NED), John Buchanan Lau (Vocal Jog veteran, SCO), Liz Swain (singer and choir conductor, UK), Nicholas Girard (husband of Clare Girard, formerly Wheeler ;)

Rule 6: Expect the unexpected. With a line-up that includes classical, children, pop, jazz, rock, barbershop and world music as well as artists, teachers, conductors and attendees from all over the world, opening up and thinking outside your own musical box makes your festival experience richer and fuller. A cappella crowds are famous for not being purist. They love the magic of the human voice and I’ve seen barbershop singers delighted by a dubstep song, pop singers surprised by the variety of jazz harmony and jazz aficionados banging their head to a Singaporean version of an Iron Maiden heavy metal classic. People to meet: Costa Peristianis (Managing Director of Ikon Arts, LACF promoter), Holly Peristiani (Ikon Arts), Jo Eteson (The Swingles, LACF curators), Tobias Hug (Creative Director Vocalmente and LEOsings)

1526416_664986813524679_1943502529_nRule 7: Share your LACF experience. Be it during the festival or in the days and weeks after LACF: Spread the news about the festival, its artists and the community of people who love to sing, listen and create together. So you can either share your pictures, texts, videos or full blog articles via your own social media or via Vocal Blog: We are happy to have you as a guest blogger and give your LACF stories, your group, your vocal music ideas or your music a voice and greater exposure. People to contact: Florian Städtler (Vocal Blog, editor-in-chief, founder), Michel Peters (Acappellazone Shop, Marketing/Sales and Suppliers)

I’m looking forward to your comments on this little LACF guideline – what else do you think we should strictly regulate? Or would you rather have anarchy (in the UK) and elsewhere on Planet A Cappella? Let me know your thoughts!

From King’s Place, London (St. Pancras Room), Yours FSt/Florian

Find more current news and footage of London A Cappella Festival via the following links:

>> Festival website:

>> LACFextra Facebook group:

>> LACF on Facebook:

>> Vocal Blog Facebook group:

>> Vocal Blog Facebook fanpage:

>> Vocal Blog on Twitter:


Join The London A Cappella Vocal Jog 2015

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 and 2014 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, 31st of January! Join us for the Fourth Official LACF2015 Vocal Jog, here is the schedule and the most important details:

    • 08:30am – meeting and start at The Travelodge Royal Scot Hotel (100 King’s Cross Rd, London WC1X 9DT) for those who want to do a relaxing run of about 60 minutes
    • 08:50am – 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

    • 09:00am - 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
    • 09:15am – 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.
    • 09:50am – return to the Royal Scot, 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 LACF2015 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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Acappellazone Album Pick 1/2015: Jazzchor Freiburg “Schwing”

by Charlotte Kersting

The Jazzchor Freiburg has given concerts in Germany, Japan and Russia, and other countries. It has won choir contests and has been on stage together with Bobby McFerrin, the Swingle Singers or the Bamberg Philharmonics. The year 2014 started in Guanzhou, China, with a spectacular New Year’s concert.

In-between, the choir gave a unique improvisational concert with Roger Treece and performed a world premiere of a piece by Morten Kjaer. And this fall a tour through Germany and the release of their new album, “Schwing!“ brought an exciting and highly successful year to a close.

Since 1990, the Jazzchor Freiburg stands for class, quality and innovation. It will soon turn 25 – a quarter of a century old. Or young, as the case may be. If it were a person, it would be just on the verge of adulthood, still trying itself out. But as a choir it has been experimenting ever since the beginning while at the same time maintaining the confidence of an established performer. It is many people. And one person, holding them all together.

bertrand_groeger_polkowski_04-dfa2a821Bertrand Gröger is the founder and conductor of the choir and may justly be called its brain, heart and soul.

Bertrand, having begun the year under a rain of glamour, glitter and applause in China, doesn’t that make a tour through Germany rather boring in comparison?

Absolutely not! To me and the singers every concert is a challenge which does not depend on where it is or if there are 300 or 3000 people in the audience! Sure, every country has a different mentality and every venue has different acoustic circumstances. A concert is never a repetition of the last one. That is the exciting thing about it. I would say in a musicians’ life a concert is the top of the mountain.

A concert can be exciting for very different reasons and might also entail the possibility of not succeeding. Suppose a concert did not go well, what do you tell your singers?

Each concert has different qualities and creates different feelings. If the rare thing happens that from an objective point of view a concert didn’t run well, I try to find out what the reasons were. These might be manifold: the sound system, not enough sleep, difficult parts of the score which we didn’t manage. There are always things to improve. If it concerns the singers, I tell them clearly and in a friendly way. Regarding music as a whole the view should be focussed forward most of the time. As we say in Germany: after the match is before the match…

8 days, 8 concerts. How do you manage to get your amateur singers into shape?

Many of the singers are not amateurs, but that doesn’t make a big difference. I believe that the strength of the voice relates very much to psychological strength. So if a group is in a good mood, it helps a lot. And the groups’ mood is my responsibility both on and off stage. Besides, it is important that the preparations in musical and vocal terms have been going well before the tour.

You also experienced your very own adventure this year. How do you hold a choir together when you are hiking through the tundra, 5000 kilometres away?

This was a personal gift from me to me and from the choir letting me go on this trip to have a break shortly before our 25th anniversary! The choir is well organised, mainly by the chorus manager Nina Ruckhaber. And we have fantastic guest conductors like Roger Treece or Tamino Franz who sings with the choir.

How do you notice that the Jazzchor Freiburg makes good music, apart from awards and exuberant reviews?

When all the musical and technical tools like tones, timing, blending and dynamics are at the right place we can start making music. When we are in a flow on a concert and I feel like starting to fly I know like everybody else that good music happens right now.