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Artikel Tagged ‘Clare Wheeler’

London A Cappella Revisited (1)

27. Januar 2013 1 Kommentar

by Florian Städtler, Vocal Blog founder

My fellow blogger 1.0 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once cleverly remarked: „If I had had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.“ An anti-rambling manifesto, cast in granite.

The LACF2013 Vocal Joggers ran with one voice.



So for this blog post I have set myself the goal of keeping it very brief – LACF2013 in a nutshell. So here’s a different kind of „Vocal Blog on tour“ poetry meets math article.





A Cappella + Metropolis = LACF

LACF x 4 = rocket start

Start of the 21st century = Swingles 2.0

The Swingle Singers = LACF’s heart and soul

Soul Brother No. 1 = Alfredo „Fredo“ Austin

Tine + Line = ElectroEmotional Queens x (Hot + Cool)

Cool = London weather x understatement

Understatement = LACF was not exactly terrible

Terrible = London pubs closing time.

Time of my life = music + meeting + learning + exchange

The Exchange = party

Party animals = all Finnish people

People from all over the world = King’s Place foyer

Foyer concerts = vocal harmony and happiness

Happy maniac = Postyr’s Kristoffer

Christopher Diaz = Talk as talk can

Canned beer < bottled beer < draught beer

Beer from Britain = always an experiment

Experiments in Songwriting 2.0 = Postyr Project

Project 2013 = The Big Qs of A Cappella eBook

Booking agent for all of these groups = job of my dreams

Dream come true = King’s Singers + Swingle Singers

Single Singers = best community project ever

Everybody at LACF = open-minded, excited, friendly

Friends = Aca-family in the real world

World Champion of Hi-Heels (advanced level) = Clare Wheeler

Clare Wheeler = jazz + style + shoes + goosebumps

P.S. = I love you, London

London A Cappella Summer School = the future

Future = European festival network

Work = OMG, it’s almost Monday

Monday = 364 days until London A Cappella 2014!

I am a happy if slightly tired blogger today. And I’m about to miss my flight because I liked having breakfast with my dear friend Hans Cassa this morning. Follow Vocal Blog on tour via #VBontour or simply via my Twitter.

LACF 2012 Status Update: Backbones and a Vocal Jog World Record

by Florian Städtler, from London A Cappella Festival 2012 (#LACF2012)

It’s Saturday morning and it’s the third day of the third edition of the London A Cappella Festival 2012. We’ve seen wonderful concerts featuring The Vasari Singers (UK), The Boxettes (UK), Cadence (CAN) and FORK (FIN). The Schools on Stage project powered by Voice Festival UK made us smile and cheer, an arrangement competition supported by Oxford University Press resulted in fantastic music, countless foyer performances and encounters of both pro and amateur artists entertained us. We met and talked to a cappella aficionados and newbies, to visitors and vocal music tourists hailing from as far as San Fransisco, Taiwan, Toronto, Oslo, Torino, Boston and even a music lover from Milton Keynes…

I’ve been attending the London A Cappella Festival since it all started in January 2010 and I must say it here and now: What The Swingle Singers as hosts and curators together with super-pro organizers at Ikon Arts have build in less than three years is the perfect example of artistic vision and will combined with professional promotional execution. It’s impossible to name all the people here, who have contributed to the three-day vocal music extravaganza, but let’s just name two who in my eyes did an outstanding job: Clare Wheeler, alto with The Swingle Singers, has become one of the leading communicators of international a cappella. Thanks to her personal dedication, the number of overseas guest has become pretty impressive. The second mover and shaker who deserves special mention is Ikon ArtsJessica Hill. She has become the festival’s managerial backbone and seems to master the multiple tasks of running LACF with unbelievable friendliness and placidity. Along with Ikon Arts owner Costa Peristianis, Nicola Semple, Beccy Chilton and Natalia Franklin Pierce she made the festival happen and the growing number of attendants happy.


Besides the musical “core business”, countless special and hilarious things happen(ed) during this festival: A Cappella rockers FORK just twittered that they are going shopping (you will probably see the results on stage next time), recording legend Bill Hare (USA) just found a Pentatonix-lookalike in the British museum, Joan Hare flirted with an double-decker bus driver, the “Single Singers” (no typo) gathered for their first rehearsal after setting up a 20+ vocal group via social media (there will be a special on that later), this afternoon we’re going to see two panels discussing the state of affairs of contemporary a cappella and the pudding, cake and hi-heel-lovers found bliss in High Tea at Montagnue and at the buzzing after show parties at a pub called The Fellow.

My most important mission of LACF2012 was of a very different kind: On Friday, 13th of January, the first semi-official London A Cappella VOCAL JOG was to take place, another try to motivate a cappella people to get over their hangovers and join me on a little run during events like this. I have been running through cities during all my vocal music travelling life, but the maximum group of Vocal Joggers as of 2011 was two participants: Morten Vinther, baritone of The Real Group broke the spell on October 16th 2011 and went for the first ever non-solo Vocal Jog in my hometown Freiburg.

But for London A Cappella, I wanted to make it big time  – and I was supported by Willy Eteson former tenor and business director of The Swingle Singers who’s a slightly eccentric British foodie and hobby star chef today. While serving self-made pork specialties at Ikon Art’s desk all through the festival, he dared me: If I was able to run up Primrose Hill (the highest “mountain” in London City ;-) with a group of at least four other Vocal Joggers, he would be there at 8:45 on Friday 13th to cater the runners with home-baked power bars, bananas and water. At this point in time, there were 9 potential runners registered at the London A Cappella Vocal Jog Facebook page, so I was optimistic even though I knew that 4 of the listed 9 might have been a bit too optimistic regarding their being at the IBIS Euston hotel lobby at 8:30 in the morning.

Friday 13th came, I woke up at around 8:00 (after staying at the bar for much too long with the wonderful Hans Cassa of Montezuma’s Revenge), felt better than expected…but then got the first bad news: Line Groth, singer and arranger for Danish electro a cappella group Postyr Project didn’t feel well. Neither did Joakim Skog, executive producer of Stockholm’s The Real Vocal Festival. And I still had no confirmation of Nicholas Girard (House Jacks, Overboard, The Sing-Off) and John Buchanan Lau from Edinborough. So I went to the hotel lobby, thinking of Willy Eteson fighting his way through the London rush hour traffic all the way from Hackney, parking illegally and running up Primrose Hill with Vocal Jog delicacies…to find no more than two or three runners…

On top of the Vocal Jog world

As it turned out, Friday 13th was my lucky Vocal Jog day: The first one to show up was Hans Cassa along with the slightly jet-lagged US star Nick Girard and at 8:30h Annemarie Homann (NED, Single Singers founder), Claudia Appel Dom (another surprise guest from The Netherlands) and John Buchanan Lau, a cappella enthusiast from Edinborough joined and made me very happy vocal Jogger. The weather was beautiful, quite cold, but blue skies over London Town. So after passing two blocks we entered Regent’s park and after 20 minutes saw Primrose Hill – which for Londoners (and especially the Dutch guests) is the equivalent of the K2. In spite of general sleep deficit, transcontinental jet-lag and traces of hangovers we made it up Primrose Hill, but: No Willy Eteson…!

…but a fantastic Vocal Jog reception committee à la surprise: Bill Hare (he wore a jacket, which means it was freaking cold!), his mother Joan Hare and their good friend from Slovakia, Sona Killianova gave us a (shivering) big hand and took pictures with the proud runners in front of the London skyline and the rising sun. At around 9:10am with the photo session done, I told my running mates that I had hoped for Willy, but assumed that he got word of the declining number of participants or might simply be stuck in the morning traffic. Sure to be served something delicious later that day we said farewell to the trembling Californian-Slovakian reception committee and started to run down the hill…

…but only seconds later we heard Bill, Joan and Sona shouting and yelling, so we turned round and there he was: Mr. Aca-Deli, Richard “Willy” Eteson with the Vocal Jog catering that will go down in history. So we ran up again, took even more photos, got the right dose of doping, said thank you again and hit the road to make it to the hotels in time for breakfast. These, my friends, are true moments to remember, thank you London A Cappella for supporting this “crazy” (Clare Wheeler) project and spreading the Vocal Jog news.

The London Vocal Jog team 2012: Claudia Appel Dom, Nicholas Girard, Annemarie Homann, Florian Städtler, Willy Eteson, John Buchanan Lau, Hans Cassa

If you loved this story and are a runner (no matter what level, we do not run longer than 30-40 minutes, pace and distance don’t matter), send an e-mail to and you’ll be invited to future Vocal Jog events. Just to let you know: Jeeves Murphy from Washington DC has been appointed Vocal Jog ambassador for the US during the after show party yesterday. And the next European vocal music highlight, the Real Vocal Festival in Stockholm, Sweden is seriously considering making the Vocal Jog an official part of the festival’s progamme (August 16-19, 2012). Last but not least, Line Groth who will come to my hometown Freiburg next week to showcase Postyr Project at the Kulturbörse Freiburg (Jan 24, 20:30h) has told me that she persists to do the Vocal Jog with me there, no matter how tight the schedule may be. So I’m  looking forward to many more great pictures of fit singers & endorphine-addicted aca-fans from all over the world.

Do-doo-run-run-run, do-doo-run-run!

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.

If you want to SELL or BUY vocal music stuff online, go to Acappellazone or write to If you think there is a video of high quality of exceptional artistry, let us know so that we can post it on the Acappellazone YouTube channel.

If you like face-to-face communication (like 4-hour candle light dinners or after party allnighters), I agree: This is the best way to communicate. So let’s stay in touch via social media and meet in person when Vocal Blog goes on tour: See you in Stockholm!

10 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Miss LACF

by Florian Städtler, Vocal Blog

with Clare Wheeler at LACF 2011


Who needs reasons to go to an international a cappella festival in London anyway…? Nevertheless, as this will be my third London A Cappella Festival (LACF), I feel that I might add something to the pre-festival excitement. And maybe make the undecided change their calendars if necessary, persuade the boyfriend (who’s into Heavy Metal) to come along and buy one pair of shoes less (sorry, Clare Wheeler, Tine Fris and Alyusha Chagrin) to buy tickets for the LACF concerts and workshops.

  1. The Swingle Singers: I’m lucky to work with 8 of the best international vocal music acts. But it all started with the Swingles in 2002. And they started London A Cappella Festival. Love you all, you’re my heroes, Sara, Jo, Clare, Oli, Tobi, Kevin and CJ!
  2. The main line-up: FORK (FIN), Cadence (CAN), The Boxettes (UK), The Swingle Singers (guests: Euphonism from NYC) as well as the Vasari Singers, Cottontown Chorus and The London Vocal Project
  3. The free events: Kings Place is a fantastic place to meet and enjoy the company of the aca-family. The foyer stage will present dozens of free performances including reason no. 4…
  4. The Single Singers: This project is a kind of all-star-all-fun-international-virtual-becomes-real vocal group founded by two Dutch singers, Annemarie Homan and Emily May ‘t Hoen. Can you imagine twenty people from ten different countries meeting at LACF to perform their first public concert after only having met (in person) a few hours before? Check out The Single Singers’ blog and don’t miss their performance after the Saturday concert.
  5. The Vocal Jog: Since I’ve been travelling the vocal music world, I always ran – to see at least a bit of the cities I was staying. And due to serious after show parties and missing running gear, I almost always ended up as a solo Vocal Jogger. Morten Vinther, baritone with The Real Group was the first one who really joined me before TRG’s gig in my hometown Freiburg. But at LACF 2012, it looks as if we could beat this Vocal Jog world record! The LACF Vocal Jog 2012 will go ahead on Friday morning, January 13th, somewhere in the vicinity of Euston station. Stay tuned and check the news and details at the Vocal Blog Facebook fanpage.
  6. Educational Events: I could never really believe that a country like England with an incredibly rich choral history was actually an a cappella no man’s land. Thanks to people like Alex Godfree (Voice Festival UK) this is changing quickly.
  7. Acashirt Pictures: This is basically the first time after the launch of my vocal music online shop Acappellazone that I will see people wearing the brandnew “Acashirts”.  A few months ago we met designer Hans Weigel who created the most wonderful a cappella shirt designs. LACF is the first vocal music event who has its official festival shirt sold via Acappellazone. Looking so much forward to pictures of real people in acashirts!
  8. My US friends: It seems like yesterday, when I attended the mother of all US a cappella festivals, SoJam. During my 4-day stay with The Boxettes I met so many fantastic, friendly and talented people, I won’t even begin to give any names here. But I particularly like the fact, that NYC-based group Euphonism will open for the Swingles on Saturday. Safe trip over the pond!
  9. London: is simply my favourite town ever. I’ve been an England fan since I went there with my family in the 70s: Devon cream tea, fish & chips, the Channel ferries, the Cornwall coast. And a two-hours pub stay with my good friend Costa Peristianis (his agency Ikon Arts runs LACF) in October in a most wonderful place called “The Antelope” confirmed my belief that better sooner than later I have to find a way to work at least 3-4 days a month in “The Big Smoke”.
  10. Global A Cappella: One mission in London is to make more movers & shakers (as well as vocal music fans and singers) mark the next super-event in their calendars: The Real Vocal Festival hosted by another European vocal music icon, The Real Group, will go ahead in Sweden’s capital Stockholm from August 16th-19th. Performances by The Real Group, Rajaton, The Swingle Singers, Postyr Project, Vocado a sensational educational programme curated by Peder Karlsson’s Real Academy and – working on it – a meeting of the leaders of CASA (The Contemporary A Cappella Society), EVA (The European Voices Association) and Vocalasia will make TRVF a must-attend-event. Let’s talk about it in London.

Aren’t that reasons to get excited? So get ready for London, tell all your singing or vocal music loving friends to go there. How often has such kind of intense festival experience changed the spirit and the motivation of whole ensembles: There’s nothing like the common experience of both the best artists on stage and the “backstage” moment of talking to the same people in a workshop, listening, learning and laughing while joining this basic need of all human beings: Singing together in a group.

London A Cappella – here we come!

Florian Städtler is founder and chief blogger for Vocal Blog and Chairman of the Board of the recently founded European Voices Association. He is a very lucky guy knowing so many talented and inspiring people who contribute to what seems to become a vocal music movement. His motto: Let’s keep suprising each other!

Thanks for following Vocal Blog on Twitter and liking, sharing, posting on Facebook. And check out Acappellazone, too.

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.

Hongkong – the Sleeping A Cappella Giant

31. März 2011 4 Kommentare

interview with Patrick Chiu (conductor of The Hongkong Melody Makers)

by Florian Städtler on March 19, 2011

It was in September 2010 when I was among the chosen few to be invited to Peder Karlsson‘s farewell concert as The Real Group‘s baritone. In a small Stockholm jazz club called “Fasching” I had one of the most amazing a cappella experiences ever. The whole Swedish music miracle called The Real Group, 25 years of musical and personal history unfolded in an incredible show featuring former and current TRG members, Finnish soulmates Rajaton, Peder Karlsson’s daughter (joining Peder singing “Mr. Father”!) among others.

But not only the stage personnel was extraordinary: The audience at “Fasching” consisted of a long list of vocal music movers and shakers from Scandinavia, Europe and even Asia. So after the show I had the opportunity to meet and talk to Patrick Chiu for the first time. Patrick is the mastermind of the Hongkong a cappella music. And when we finally had to part in Stockholm, Patrick promised to visit me when coming to Germany in March 2011. And he kept his promise: Just before the 2011 Hongkong International A Cappella Festival began, Patrick took a train from Stuttgart, where he joined a conducting masterclass with German choral music legend Helmuth Rilling, to my home town Freiburg.

Florian Städtler & Patrick Chiu at the SpielPlanVier office in Freiburg

Here’s the exclusive Vocal Blog interview, the first in a 12-part series of interviews with well-known and yet hidden a cappella stars.

Vocal Blog:  The first thing I heard about this year’s Hongkong A Cappella Festival was when Peder Karlsson told me that he was to perform in front of 3000 kids in a stadium to open the festival. Sounds amazing!

Patrick Chiu: The opening concert in this big venue presents up-and-coming groups both from Asia and other continents. The festival organizers want to present vocal music to as many young people in Hongkong as possible. In another concert we present one international top group and we’re happy to present The Swingle Singers this year. There are other, smaller concerts and a lot of workshops, too.

Vocal Blog: Tell me a bit about the Hongkong A Cappella scene – how has it developed since you started your work for the Hongkong Federation of Youth Groups?

Patrick Chiu: When we started around five years ago, we didn’t have many vocal groups on a good musical level, maybe five teams, as we say. But now, I think, we have about twenty groups who perform on a regular basis. For the groups whose quality is OK, we have one outdoor concert as their opportunity to present themselves at the festival.

Vocal Blog:  What role do educational events play in the festival?

Patrick Chiu: We do a lot of workshops. There are in-school workshops, which means we bring a HK team (=group) to a school. For other educational events, people come to our venues, e.g. masterclasses or lectures. We’ve also started a cooperation to make Peder Karlsson’s Real Academy work in Hongkong. And we think that the concept of an online school is very innovative and good. On the other hand, the young, unexperienced singers over here need personal, face-to-face coaching very much. So we hope to bring Peder and his team of teachers over here many more times. We also would love to invite Tobias Hug, bass of The Swingle Singers or Jim Daus Hjernoe from Denmark to do some educational work.

Vocal Blog:  It might be interesting for our readers to learn more about the organisational background of the festival…

Patrick Chiu: The festival promoter is The Hongkong Federation of Youth Groups, a huge organisation including all kinds of youth groups. Actually music groups are only a small fraction of this organisation. Six years ago the CEO of the federation had the idea of founding a vocal group in Hongkong. At this time I had just finished my studies in the US and I helped her to establish the group called The Hongkong Melody Makers. The groups was quite successful and so she had another idea: Why not organise a festival or rather a concert series that involves international groups.

Vocal Blog: More than 200.000 children and teenagers are members of the Federation of Youth Groups – how many of them are singers?

Patrick Chiu: Actually, I don’t know – because we simply never counted the members. The Melody Makers, the Federation’s official choir has 40 members, and we don’t want the choir to become bigger as we think that it wouldn’t be possible to keep the quality that we want for the group. On the other hand, if the general quality of young singers will improve, we would probably start new ensembles or divide the existing by age. At the moment a singer can stay with The Melody Makers until he turns 30 – but most of them are much younger right now, so that’s not a problem.

Vocal Blog: Are you supporting other groups, too?

Patrick Chiu:  We try to give promising new groups advice, invite them to workshops and create opportunities to perform. We are convinced that concerts of newcomer or professional international groups have a strong impact on the Hongkong newcomers: These concerts, workshops and meetings can really stimulate young singers.

Vocal Blog: What about the recent tv programmes like “Glee” or “Sing-off”: How popular are they in Hongkong?

Patrick Chiu: As a matter of fact, they’re not as popular as in the USA. But people can watch these programmes and the singers do so and see that vocal music can make it into mainstream television. And the interested students in Hongkong use the internet a lot: Some of them are well aware of the international music scene.

Vocal Blog: Let’s look into the future: Will there be a Hongkong International A Cappella Festival 2012, 2013 etc.?

Patrick Chiu: We very much hope so. And it has turned out that the purpose of supporting young people to be involved in music and musical education creates good opportunities to find sponsorship. Only sponsors like the Hongkong Jockey Association make invitiations of a cappella superstars like The Real Group or The Swingle Singers possible.

Vocal Blog: Patrick, thank you very much for taking the time for this meeting and interview – hope to hop over to Hongkong for one of the future festivals. Good luck and say hello to Peder, the Swingles and all the enthusiastic singers!

The Hongkong International A Cappella Festival brochure

Read Patricks introduction to the festival here.

And let us know what you think about vocal and choral music in Asia – I’m looking forward to your comments.

If you haven’t joined the Vocal Blog facebook group, why not do it right now: You can meet over 700 a cappella activists there. Same goes for Twitter (@vocalblog), which is a lot of fun as it keeps you up to speed with aca-tweeps like @dinkyswingle (Clare Wheeler, The Swingle Singers), @joeteson (Joanna Goldsmith-Eteson, The Swingle Singers), @ericwhitacre (Eric Whitacre), @madsbass (Mads Iversen, Pust), @therealgroup, @theswinglesingers, @naturally7, @amalkoff (Amy Malkoff, CASA) and many, many more.