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Artikel Tagged ‘Kwok-tung Fung’

Vocal Asia Festival 2016 in Taitung (Taiwan)

by Juliana Baron, Vocal Blog Asia, August 2016

Impressions of Asia’s biggest A Cappella Festival

It is not possible to give you the full impression on my experience I made during the Vocal Asia Festival 2016 in just one vocal blog post. But let me try to give you at least a glimpse of this years’ biggest A Cappella event in Asia with a record participant number of almost 500 including international and domestic events.

Vocal Asia Festival All Participants

Vocal Asia Festival All Participants

Taitung – a city with long aboriginal a cappella history

Taiwanese Aboriginal Group

Taiwanese Aboriginal Group

The beautiful city of Taitung with a third of the population having aboriginal roots and aboriginal music being mainly vocal music it was the perfect place to be to organize an a cappella festival, combining the contemporary A Cappella music with the local aboriginal vocal music. It’s the birthplace of the Austronesian culture and indigenous tribes preserved the sounds from both the mountains and the seas through their memories from generation to generation.

Together with the variety of Asian music styles and latin american rhythms and sounds from the 2016 master group Vocal Sampling from Cuba, it was the richest and most diverse Vocal Asia Festival (VAF) ever.

Rich diversity of music styles

Dance Group at "Sound of Taitung"

Dance Group at “Sound of Taitung”

Voco Novo and Set Tone Men

Voco Novo and Set Tone Men

This special atmosphere and bridging of traditional with contemporary sounds was best reflected in the Sound of Taitung concert on the second evening. Local aboriginal vocal and dancing groups performed together with contemporary a cappella groups who combined traditional with modern sounds and vocal techniques. Singsong, Mamama Tribe, Chu-Yin Cultural and Arts Troupe, Vusam and Eastern Bunun Youth Music Group electrified the audience the same way like Acapellago from the Philippines, Voco Novo and Gili from Taiwan and Set Tone Men from Hongkong. Once local star singer Sangpuy Katatepan Mavaliyw got on stage, the audience couldn’t hold in and the whole Concert Hall had a blast singing along and wouldn’t stop the repetitive call-response-parts.

The filipino group Acapellago created new sounds out of a Taiwanese ethnic song entitled „Song of Happiness“ dedicated to the Rukai Tribe. Voco Novo surprised with cooperation songs together with Hongkong’s Set Tone Men, with Gili, this year’s winner of the Asian Cup A Cappella competition, as well as with Sangpuy Katatepan Mavaliyw. The evening was filled with a new sound experience, a combination of aboriginal music, traditional poems, modern a cappella music and instrument simulations.

Watch Acapellago’s video on Facebook. Acapellago from the Philippines performed „Song of Happiness“ from the Taiwanese Rukai Tribe: Acapellago at Sound of Taitung

Asian Cup A Cappella Competition – the largest A Cappella Competition in Asia

Competition Participants

Competition Participants

15 groups from 8 different Asian countries were competing at the 3rd Asian Cup A Cappella Competition on the first day of the VAF 2016 August 17th. It was by far the highest level of competing groups in Asia and the Jury had a very hard time to decide on the winners. The Jury consisted of Ray Yi Chu and Jia-Ching Lai from Taiwan, Kaichiro Kitamura from Japan, Michele Weir from California and Rene Baños Pascual from Vocal Sampling, Cuba.

The Winners: Gili (Taiwan)

The Winners: Gili (Taiwan)

Compared to last year’s competition with more homogenous sounds and very similar music styles this time it was much more diverse. The participants represented their cultural background, sometimes with traditional elements of their country and several own compositions. You could experience the evolution of Asian A Cappella music and more self-confidence of the teams relying on their own music style and cultural background.

Acapellago 2nd Price

Acapellago 2nd Price

Although they didn’t win a price, my personal highlight was my former a cappella group Acaism from Shanghai joining the Asia Cup Competition. And although we didn’t part that long ago, we miss each other a lot. On stage, they dedicated one of their songs to me and I couldn’t stop crying as their voices reached directly to my heart.

The Groovies 3rd Place

The Groovies 3rd Place

Special prices were awarded to the Water Singers from Macau and The Apex Project from Singapore. The Third Price was given to two groups: The Groovies from Japan and Doo-Wop Sounds from Korea. Acapellago from the Philippines were awarded with the Second Price. Their performance was amazing and they blew away the audience not only at the competition, they contributed to every single concert during the 4-day festival.

Doo-Wop Sounds 3rd Place

Doo-Wop Sounds 3rd Place

Finally, the champions of the 2016 Asian Cup Competition are Gili from Taiwan. They will represent Asia during the 2017 VoiceJAM, the partner a cappella festival in Northwest Arkansas.

Special act was 尋人啟事人聲樂團 The Wanted Vocal Band who are the winners of 2015 Asian Cup Competition and 2016 VoiceJAM champions. An amazingly refreshing group. I am always fond of meeting and listening to them.

An extract of the Asian Cup Competition – Which group would you have voted for?

Sound of Asia Concert and ACA Day

ACA Day Tiehua Village

The Present (Korea) at ACA Day Tiehua Village

The participating groups of the Vocal Asia Festival get many chances to connect to the local people and spread the catching sounds of a cappella. The ACA Day is like a big open air party at different locations in the hosting city Taitung. The whole afternoon about 20 groups from 8 different countries sang on open air stages in Tiehua Village and MATA  Taiwan Indigenous Cultural Resort. It was incredibly hot that day, but the singers and the audience were having a great time, moving their hips, singing and clapping along – an overwhelming atmosphere.

Acappuccino (Singapore) and me

Acappuccino (Singapore) and me

Another personal highlight was during the Sound of Asia concert. Not only did I join the Single Singers (see previous vocal blog posts) but also I got the chance to collaborate with the Singaporean group Acappuccino. We met last year and became friends at the Vocal Asia Festival in Shanghai. Spontaneously, we decided to sing a song together during the Sound of Asia concert. It was such an honor to be asked guest singer by Acappuccino, I couldn’t reject that offer. And the song they invited me to join had another special meaning to me. Australian Spring by Basix , the group I met at my first Vocal Asia Camp in Shanghai in 2014. It was not about the performance, for us it was all about our friendship, about the basic message of the Vocal Asia Festival, about bridging nations, cultures, distances by doing music together. For me there was no better place than this festival to sing a song together.

Cuban sounds at the VAF 2016

Workshop with Vocal Sampling

Workshop with Vocal Sampling

This years headliner group came from Cuba: Vocal Sampling. It was an interesting combination and I was very curious whether their rhythm and sounds would catch and match the Asian a cappella friends.

During their workshops, they taught the different Cuban and Latin Jazz instrumental sounds and animated the participants to dance and sing along. No doubt they infected everyone with a Cuban summer feeling. At the Gala Concert they made the whole audience in the Arts and Culture Center become a member of Vocal Sampling, nobody remaining on their seats, everyone dancing to Cuban and salsa rhythms, clapping, singing – even in Spanish.

For the Chinese speaking audience they prepared another highlight: 甜蜜蜜 Tian Mi Mi

Get an impression of the six enthusiastic artists from Cuba and watch my interview during the festival:

The best feeling you get by sneaking into the workshops. Stand up while you are watching and move your hips and sing along!

Workshop schedule at the Vocal Asia Festival 2016

Michele Weir: Solo Singing

Michele Weir: Solo Singing

Not only Vocal Sampling was offering workshops and coaching individual vocal groups, instructors from Taiwan, Japan, Hongkong and US gave arranging lessons, coaching sessions, taught about harmony, vocal percussion, stage performance, solo singing and fearless improvisation.

In latter two workshops led by Michele Weir, Jazz educator, arranger, producer and pianist, the participants could practice scat singing, learn about what makes a great jazz performance great and try out their latest learnings in front of the workshop participants.

Scat Singing with Michele Weir

Scat Singing with Michele Weir

Dr. Stephen Gusukuma and Baylor University’s VirtuOSO from Texas shared their process of creating and executing choreography for catching performances.

Jazz Vocal Percussionist Kaichiro Kitamura from Japan shared his knowledge on different percussion grooves and what it takes to be able to work with so many great musicians around the world.


Kaichiro Kitamura

Kaichiro Kitamura

Kwok-Tung Fung from Hongkong shared how his group The Gay Singers, the longest running a cappella group in the Chinese speaking region, has developed and the secret of managing a group in the long run.

From Taiwan, the a cappella legends Ray Yi Chu, Christine Liu, Jia-Ching Lai and professor Shawn Chen shared their experiences. Christine leading the Single Singers (see article…), professor Shawn Chen teaching about local sound of Taiwan and Ray and Jia-Ching teaching about what makes a good harmony and how to make a good a cappella arrangement..

The tremendous organizational efforts can be hardly estimated if you consider that in parallel to the international Vocal Asia Festival there was a domestic event with the Taitung Cup A Cappella Competition, the same number of workshops and similar number of local participants to boost the a cappella education in the region.

Education Seminar „The next step of Asia A Cappella Education“

Besides the many workshops and seminars, the a cappella education representatives from different Asian countries exchanged success stories and talked about the future of Asian A Cappella Education.

Sung Mo Han and Kaichiro Kitamura

Sung Mo Han and Kaichiro Kitamura

Moderated by Wuming Chen, Angelina Choo from Singapore, Howard Cheung and Ray Yi Chu from Taiwan, Jo Jo Pang from Hongkong, Kaichiro Kitamura from Japan, Sung-Mo Han from Korea and the audience from all over Asia discussed how to develop local teachers for a cappella to effectively increase the interest, spread and improve the skills even in smaller cities and towns. Not all methods work well in all countries, but there is a lot to learn from each other and best practices are exchanged.

Education Seminar

Education Seminar

The educational consultant of Vocal Asia and the President of the Korea A Cappella Education Association Sung Mo Han spontaneously demonstrating teaching without scores.

The a cappella educational activities in the different countries are promising and already show a huge success. There is more to come, more to align and exchange and it will be interesting to follow and track the future initiatives.

Next year the Vocal Asia Festival will take place in Hongkong. I’m already excited and can’t wait to join. Hope to see many of you in Hongkong!

Vocal Asia Festival 2015 – Impressions of Day 5

21. September 2015 1 Kommentar

by Juliana Baron, Vocal Blog Asia, September 2015

Every moment is just so special – Juliana’s first-hand impressions of the Vocal Asia Festival 2015

Sad, but true – the last day of Vocal Asia Festival (VAF) 2015 in Shanghai has come:

Day 5: Caught in the moment

Sun (Aug 9), the last day of the Vocal Asia Festival, started with one of my favorite workshop topics: „Imprecision in an Age of Musical Perfection“.

DeltaCappella’s workshop „Imprecision“

DeltaCappella’s workshop „Imprecision“

DeltaCappella inspired and motivated people in their workshop to try out new ways of learning and arranging a song without strictly sticking to the notation. Unfortunately, we found no time during the festival to have an interview. I hope, I will get the chance some day soon, to have a deeper discussion with DeltaCappella on this interesting approach.

In the afternoon, I attended the Jazz vocal percussion class of Kaichiro Kitamura, an amazing Jazz vocal percussionist and founder of the Japan A Cappella Society.

After his workshop, I got a chance to talk to Kai about the status and development of A Cappella in Japan.

Interview with Kaichiro Kitamura from Japan

Kaichiro Kitamura, Juliana Baron, Ray Chu

Kaichiro Kitamura, Juliana Baron, Ray Chu

Juliana: Kaichiro-san, you are such an international person, fluent in English, Chinese, Korean – and of course Japanese. Is it ok, to call you Kai?

Kai: Yes, well, you are half Korean, you can also call me Kai Obba (elder brother).

Juliana: (laugh) This year, Vocal Asia in Japan was kicked off. How would you describe the status of A Cappella in Japan?

Kai: Actually, we are deeply impressed by Take 6, Singers unlimited, Doo-wap and so on. Those, who listen to their music, they form up their college a cappella groups. The first a cappella club was established in Waseda University in Tokyo, which I graduated from, and that was more than 30 years ago. This was the first college a cappella club in Japan. Then, 10 years later, new a cappella clubs occurred in many colleges and many places and not only the students’ associations, but also the vocal festival associations for the public. So now, spreading out nationwide from Hokkaido to Kyushu area. There are pretty many a cappella festivals right now in Japan.

Juliana: How come that there are not so many Japanese a cappella groups going outside of Japan?

Kai: Well, one of the reasons is, they don’t know about the international festivals abroad, actually. And the second reason is, they are interested to join in international festivals, but it is tough for them to speak English. They need to understand everything in English, need to express themselves, need to understand the classes, the instructors – that’s tough for them. There is a language barrier.

Juliana: Are there any professional groups in Japan who can make their living from a cappella?

Kai: Yes, more than 10 professional groups are in Japan. Most of the teams are living in Osaka or Kobe area and about 3-5 groups are now active in Tokyo.

Juliana: What was your highlights and lowlights throughout your musical journey with vocal percussion and a cappella?

Kai: It is hard to tell, because I experienced so many highlights. One of the big highlights is the Vocal Asia Festival. Every year I was invited as an instructor. And every year coincidently, I was invited as a guest performer at the gala concert to accompany the master group of the festival. For example with The Real Group in 2011, in 2012 with Slixs, then Rajaton, The Idea of North. That gave me the big chance to perform in the world. And this year, tonight, I will also join Naturally 7 on stage. We just finished the rehearsal, it was OK (laugh). Oh, and with The Real Group, when they came to Tokyo, I just hopped into their show and the whole performance was recorded. The CD is now on sale, the title is “Live in Japan – The Real Group”

Juliana: Any lowlights?

Kai: Actually, I’ve never experienced bad things. Always the music cheers me up and people motivated me. So, every time I feel happy.

Juliana: What is your wish for Asia’s A Cappella future?

Kai: Especially for our country, we have lot’s of difficulties to host an international festival. But I want to make a change. If we promote a cappella festivals like those from Vocal Asia to Japanese concerts, to the Japanese people, Japanese singers – maybe that attracts them, I believe they will participate. All I can do is being an ambassador, tell people what is good, what is happening in other Asian countries. I will be in charge of promoting. I’ll do my best.

Juliana: Thank you so much, Kai Obba! I wish you all the best for your a cappella promotion!


VAF Gala Concert - The Wanted

VAF Gala Concert – The Wanted

The final highlight of the 2015 Vocal Asia Festival was the gala concert. Asia Cup winners „The Wanted“ opened the show. Although just coming out of High School, they were absolutely stunning and almost professional.

VAF Gala Concert - DeltaCappella

VAF Gala Concert – DeltaCappella

Special guest DeltaCappella brought a different sound experience and a diverse program of jazz, swing, rock and pop songs – the audience loved it. The workshop participants of the morning session were invited to sing along the chorus of Good Livin’: „We’re gonna harmonize and we’re gonna shout…“

VAF Gala Concert - Naturally 7 giving everything.

VAF Gala Concert – Naturally 7 giving it one’s all.

VAF Gala Concert - Naturally 7

VAF Gala Concert – Naturally 7






Mindblowing the show of the VAF’s master group Naturally 7. Next to me, there was a Chinese lady almost going nuts, almost jumping out of her seat. It seemed to be her first time in an a cappella concert and she couldn’t stop saying how good they are.

Kaichiro Kitamura’s duet with Naturally 7 bass Kelz was for sure another highlight on this show.

Fabulous gig of Kaichiro Kitamura with Naturally 7 bass Kelz at the VAF Gala Concert.

But my favorite of this evening was the encore song „Caught in the moment“. Somehow like a motto which accompanied me throughout the whole festival. Each and every moment was just so special.


Naturally 7: „Caught in the moment“ (which is much more intimate and touching listening to it live)

Although this was a lot to read and thanks for your interest – there was much more happening throughout the VAF 2015. Sorry that I couldn’t join and share impressions of several other interesting workshops by Ray Chu, Christine Liu, Kwok-Tung Fung, Leo Tsai and Kaichiro Kitamura. If you joined any of their workshops or want to share some of your experiences, please feel free to comment and share.

Hope to see you at the next festival whenever, wherever on this earth! Cheers!

VAF 2015 - the participants

VAF 2015 – the participants

Vocal Asia Festival 2015 – Impressions of Day 2

15. September 2015 Keine Kommentare

Every moment is just so special – Juliana’s first-hand impressions of the Vocal Asia Festival 2015

by Juliana Baron, Vocal Blog Asia, September 2015

Last month, the Shanghai Mass Arts Center was hosting the 2015 Vocal Asia Festival (VAF) – here comes part 2 of my first-hand impressions:

Day 2: Aren’t we all a little crazy in this big ACA family?

Thursday (Aug 6) started with the A Cappella Summit Forum. Representatives from Korea, Japan, Taiwan, China, Singapore and Hongkong presented their status of A Cappella development.

l. to r.: Hea Il Kim, Sung-Mo Han, Ray Chu, Kaichiro Kitamura, Clare Chen, Deke Sharon, Angelina Choo-Sassarak, Peter Lane, Wuming Chen, Kwok-Tung Fung

l. to r.: Hea Il Kim, Sung-Mo Han, Ray Chu, Kaichiro Kitamura, Clare Chen, Deke Sharon, Angelina Choo-Sassarak, Peter Lane, Wuming Chen, Kwok-Tung Fung

Deke Sharon talked about his experience and the success of a growing popularity of a cappella in the US and in other regions of the world. Clare Chen, the president of Vocal Asia, shared her dream and mission of supporting a cappella in Asia, as well as linking and networking all over the world. Special guest was Peter Lane, president and CEO of the Walton Arts Center in Arkansas, who started last year with a professional a cappella festival called „VoiceJam“, hosted by Deke Sharon.

Main topic was sharing ideas of linking and connecting the different regions together, and finally come closer and exchange between the continents.


Sung-Mo Han (President of the Korea A Cappella Education Association) teaching singing in harmony without scores

Sung-Mo Han (President of the Korea A Cappella Education Association) teaching singing in harmony without scores

Finally, Vocal Asia’s educational consultant Sung-Mo Han presented a profound education concept for A Cappella and spontaneously demonstrated a method of teaching and singing without scores. The simplicity and effectiveness stunned even the pro’s amongst the audience.

After lunch, hurray, the workshop sessions started! The full program of the festival can be found on Vocal Asia. As there were always three lectures in parallel, you had to decide on your favorite topic which was by far not easy with all the good lecturers and interesting workshops. After joining the workshop „A Cappella arranging in 10 steps“ by Deke Sharon, which makes it sound so easy to arrange, I headed to the Single Singers’ first rehearsal.

The Single Singers’ first rehearsal with Christine Liu.

The Single Singers’ first rehearsal with Christine Liu.

Christine Liu, music director and alto of Voco Novo, brought the Single Singers’ concept from the London A Cappella Festival to VAF. When she entered the rehearsal place, she seemed to be shocked and overwhelmed at the same time. We were supposed to sing in a group of 20 people who applied for the workshop in advance. But Christine was facing about 50 excited and curious single singers. Well, the shocking part about it was how to balance the voices and how to make all of us ready to perform on the VAF Concert the next day. First half of our rehearsal, we needed to organize enough copies of the scores, split into the different voice parts, discuss whether to transpose both of the songs and of course, get to know each other. Christine having a hard time to get the excited chattering and giggling noise down. Our first trial was horrifying, but we all loved Christine for smiling at us, being so positive and motivating. „Will you have some time tonight to practice before our last rehearsal tomorrow?“ I think we were all crazy deciding to go for 2 songs, but aren’t we all a little crazy in this big ACA family?

The workshop „Urbanized A Cappella“ with Naturally 7

The workshop „Urbanized A Cappella“ with Naturally 7

Highlight of day 2 for sure was my Interview with Naturally 7 for the Vocal Blog. You can get an idea of  how outstanding these 7 artists are. You will definitely fall for them when you hear them live, but not only when they are performing, also behind the scenes, they are just so down-to-earth and warm-hearted personalities – you can’t help but fall in love with them.

In the last workshop session of this day „Urbanized A Cappella“ the Naturally 7 members talked about their background and gave some examples of their musical journey. Unfortunately, half of the participants – and so did I – had to leave in the middle of the workshop to hurry to the first ACA Day concert in another location.

The A Cappella World Tour Report (2): Hong Kong Peak

by Florian Städtler, Vocal Blog founder

this is a very short post – the reason is that in less than two hours, I’m boarding a train to Frankfurt airport. Again, you might say, and you’re right. If someone had told me that long-haul-flights would become “business as usual” for me, I would have shrugged my shoulders and returned to my desk, looking forward to the next exciting trip to Munich, Cologne, Leipzig or Hamburg. With one phone call, four corporate roadshows (which Sao Paolo is the fourth of) and about 4-5 new US and Swiss inquiries by the same international client, things have changed. Read more about the “Voices of Sales” project in my earlier blog post, “A Cappella World Tour Report (1)”.

Now, before I hop a flight to Brazil I absolutely wanted to share two little videos with you. They marked on of the most exciting short trips of my life, my 4-day visit of Hong Kong and Shenzen, including the taping of the first Sing-Off China episode and a one-day sightseeing trip with my newly-found friend Kwok-tung Fung. Kwok-tung works for Vocalasia, the fast growing Asian organisation for contemporary vocal music. See what we had to say “on top of the world”.

Peak video greeting by Kwok-tung Fung (Vocalasia)

Peak video greeting by Florian Städtler (Vocal Blog)

Stay tuned for more footage of the “Voices of Sales” project and more global a cappella fun here on the blog. The next report will show you videos by four groups from four continents, singing the same song in their individual style. And some pictures, anecdotes and impressions from a town of 19.7 million inhabitants: Sao Paolo.

See you in London (August 15th, “Pub & Curry Night with London aca-friends, just drop a line if you would like to join us) and at The Real Group Festival in Stockholm (August 16th-19th)!

Thanks for sharing Vocal Blog via Facebook group, Facebook fanpage and Twitter. If you’ve got a story for the vocal music community, let us know via We love your input, as long as its personal and more than blatant self-promotion. What would you like to read here? Who would you like to be featured? Make your comments and be part of the conversation!