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Artikel Tagged ‘Roger Treece’

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.


Backing for Bobby

4. Januar 2011 1 Kommentar

by Cæcilie Johansen, Aarhus/Denmark

In November 2010, Vocal Line was invited to sing together with Bobby McFerrin in two concerts in the Rose Theater at the Jazz At Lincoln Center in New York. Bobby McFerrin would perform the music from his new album VOCAbuLaries, and Vocal Line would be the backing choir of the world known artist! Here is my blog on the project that we in Vocal Line called: “Backing for Bobby”!

We received the Bobby-scores in October at a time when we had just finished our German concert tour, but there was no time to relax – we had to learn 5 pieces of music lasting 6-8 minutes each in quite short time. To our luck Roger Treece, who is the key driver of the VOCAbuLaries-project, invited himself to come to Denmark and rehearse with us for four days. Roger calls the project his “life project”, and his dedication is obvious in his enthusiastic instruction and the way he is so into every little detail of the music.

In Vocal Line, we usually study about 5 new arrangements a year, because we spent so much time on every detail and expression. Therefore, it was a big challenge for us to learn 5 new pieces of this length and difficulty in such short time. But we were eager to do a good job, and it meant a lot to us because of Bobby McFerrin’s exceptional status in the vocal world. We all agreed that this might be one of the biggest experiences in Vocal Line’s career. On the day of our departure a Danish News Paper posted an article about our collaboration with the world famous Bobby McFerrin – we were exited!

But we were also a bit nervous, that we wouldn’t make it in time, so everyone were looking through their scores while listening to the rehearsing (click-)tracks on their iPods on the bus to the airport. Our flight to Amsterdam was delayed, so we missed our flight from Amsterdam to New York. But we didn’t care: We entertained the waiting travelers at the Airport with our interpretation of Jason Mraz’ “Geek in the Pink”. Three hours delayed, we finally arrived at JFK Airport – jetlagged and tired. It was 11 pm in NY, so we went to bed as soon as we reached the hotel at 80th street. The first day of rehearsal was waiting ahead.

Roger Treece - the mastermind behind the "Vocabularies" project

I woke up early the next morning. It was 6 am in NY, but 12 noon in Denmark, so I was unable to sleep any longer and decided to watch the sun rise over New York instead – unbelievable, we were really there! After having had breakfast at a cosy Diner, we went to the Carroll studios, where we would be rehearsing for the next two days, and Roger introduced us to the American singers. Some of these singers are singing on the VOCAbuLaries album, and I remember being worried that the American singers were far more into the music than we were. But I could breathe a sigh of relief – the American singers were really really talented, but Vocal Line’s intense practicing paid off: We were the only ones able to sing all the music without the scores. The first test was passed.

Second test was how it would work with Bobby McFerrin, who we would be practicing with the next day. It was amazing to finally be singing with him, but I couldn’t help feeling a little disappointed about his way of greeting us – he gave all the Americans a warm hug, but he didn’t really seem to notice that we had been traveling all the way from Denmark and had worked very hard to be his backing choir. But so what – I was still really excited about the next days’ concerts!

Bobby Mc Ferrin

The two concerts turned out to be very different. At the first concert, Bobby did some amazing solo parts between the choir parts and he really involved the audience in his unique way. At one time he had some people from the audience dancing on the stage, including an old man with Alzheimer’s, and this was very life affirming. Bobby sang together with the audience, and he had two of his children singing with him – fantastic! However, the connection between Bobby and the choir wasn’t totally there until the second concert, which was amazing. Bobby, Roger, the choir and the percussionists really made music together on the second night, and there were hugs and smiles everywhere after the show! Afterwards we had a great afterglow in the Big Apple together with Roger and some of the American singers.

After all the singing and dancing, most of us were very tired on the flight home the next day. But before we could get home to our families, we had to take a little trip to Copenhagen to participate in the television show “Aftenshowet”. In spite of jet-lag and no sleep, I think we managed to look quite good and sing quite well in those 4 minutes on the TV screen ;-)

Vocal Line

In 2010, Vocal Line has had the most hectic fall ever, but it has been filled with so many great experiences. Vocal Line is very proud to have had the chance and artistic level to share the stage with such great musicians as Bobby McFerrin, Roger Treece and the rest of the “VOCAbuLaries Group”, and we’re even more proud that Bobby and Roger has agreed to come to Aarhus and do it all again at Aarhus Vocal Festival in May 2011! 2010 has been a fantastic year for Vocal Line – I can’t wait to see what 2011 will bring!

Allright, aca-folks and vocal peeps, what’s your opinion on the “Vocabularies” project? If you’ve been among the chosen few to work with Bobby and Roger, let us know what’s your experience. I’m looking forward to your comments, reviews and reports.

Feel free to follow Vocal Blog on Twitter – it’s a fun way of getting connected and staying up to speed with the most innovative people aka tweeps in the vocal scene. Registering is VERY easy, so is following @vocalblog. And – if you haven’t done so, join the Facebook group for pictures, links, videos – all about a cappella, vocal and choral music worldwide. Thanks for joining the conversation, see you at London A Cappella, January 12-15 (I’ll be in town on the 12th – with The Real Group! -  and the 14th, I’d love to meet up if you’re around).

Roger Treece and Tobias Hug: Backstage at Bobby’s

12. Juli 2010 6 Kommentare

Roger Treece, musical director and composer with Bobby McFerrin talking to Swingle Singer Tobias Hug.

Can you imagine working on an album for a total of six years? Recording more than 400 tracks for every song on that album? Working with singers from all over the world who contribute to this one album?

Now, Bobby McFerrin seems to be the one who really can do the unimaginable, but even King Bobby needs someone who does a bit of legwork. So when Linda Goldstein, Bobby’s manager had the idea of making his music available to choirs all over the world, she found Roger Treece. Based in NYC, Roger is a composer, arranger and sound engineer whose talent perfectly matches Bobby’s genius. And he made it become reality: “VOCabuLarieS“, an epic masterpiece of voices, a symphonic work of art based on music and musical fragments by Bobby McFerrin.

Currently, Bobby and Roger tour the world and do concerts with local choirs. However, as you might have imagined, the music composed by Roger is not exactly regular choir repertoire. It’s amazingly complex stuff. That’s why the choirs that were chosen to work with Roger and Bobby are the top rhythmic choirs of the world.

The Jazzchor Freiburg (conductor: Bertrand Gröger) is one of Europe’s leading jazz choirs and was among the “chosen few” – meeting Bobby “The Voice” McFerrin in Vienna in June and in Lörrach/Germany ( on the 15th of July.

We are happy and honoured to have Tobi Hug, bass singer with the London based Swingle Singers (and also singing those two “VOCabuLarieS” gigs with Bobby) interviewing Roger Treece after the first of the two shows.

Did you see a “VOCabuLarieS” show? How do you like the album? Post your comments now and join the a cappella conversation!