Competition finalists

Vocal Group Competition

ILO
Åkervinda
VOXID
Ambrosia
Sub5
Jazzation

ILO (FI)

Ilo Ensemble is a five-woman a cappella group from Helsinki, Finland. The group embraces contemporary folk music and performs it in the way they want. The group won the international a cappella competition of Tampere Vocal Festival 2017 in the acoustic series. Warm and engaging – this is Ilo Ensemble in a nutshell, both in their sound and in their stage presence. The members of the group met each other as students at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. The ensemble itself was born in 2012. Ilo´s heart belongs to folk music, improvisation and theatre tunes. Versatile musicianship, an imaginative sound and use of the voice are the main ingredients in a musical broth guaranteed to make the listener swoon.

Ilo Ensemble´s passion is the reki-song: Finnish popular music of the 19th Century, crafted by and for the ordinary people. These short rhymed folk songs were about everyday life, and no human sentiment was foreign to them. Ilo Ensemble revives this tradition for our modern age by composing, writing and arranging brand new, candid and vivid reki-songs. Indeed, the ensemble proves that the reki-song tradition is not a mouldy museum exhibit, but rather a fertile soil for artistic expression, be it about love most furtive, or the ills of contemporary society. In June 2017 Ilo Ensemble won the Ist prize of the acoustic category at the international a cappella contest ‘Tampereen Sävel’, Finland. In October 2017 Ilo Ensemble released its debut album ’Elo’, enjoying a lot of positive attention from the press.

In the summer of 2018 the ensemble was one of the main headliners of Vaasa Choir Festival and Kaustinen Folk Music Festival. In August they recorded by commission four of their own new songs for the Finnish National Broadcasting Company YLE. In 2016-2018 the ensemble has been touring widely around Finland, performing their own reki-songs in different festivals and venues, bars and schools as well as in senior and assisted living homes.

Ilo Ensemble: Helmi Camus, Salla Haavisto, Lotta Hagfors, Tiina Palmén, Ulla Silvennoinen – vocals

http://iloensemble.com

Åkervinda (SE)

Jazz singers at heart, the four members of vocal quartet
Åkervinda shares a deep love of folk music, and give new life to the Scandinavian folk tunes in their original and modern interpretations.

The group released their second album Förgänglighet
in Spring 2018. Förgänglighet – the passing of life – is a tribute to all the things that withers away and a celebration of life in summer as well as autumn. Like so many storytellers and artists
before them, Åkervinda carries tales of women throughout the ages, embodied in a visual musical live performance.
Ever since their breakthrough at the Aarhus Vocal Festival in Denmark in 2015 the group have performed at an array of European vocal festivals and folk venues and at venues in Canada and the USA. They have frequented the UK, where they performed at the Marchland Festival in March, and then a six-date Summer Tour of the UK, including Shambala Festival, Bath Folk Festival and
two concerts with The Nest Collective, amongst others. They are set to perform with The Swingles in London at Cecil Sharp House in April 2019, and are now setting dates for 2019.

VOXID (D)

The German A Cappella Band VOXID is famous for its unique songwriting, musical perfection and simply entertaining performances. Based on these three main ingredients, VOXID has found the recipe to serve multifaceted Pop to a constantly increasing audience.

Musical Treasure
In early 2016, the five singers Maike Lindemann, Diana Labrenz, Gabriel Fuhrmann, Friedrich Rau and Daniel Barke sort of beamed themselves into the heart of the German Pop music scene by releasing their first single Musical Treasure – a loop-based disco track about the endeavour to find the tune or the musical idea. Since then, their success story is based exactly on those building pieces one can listen to in their first single: extraordinary voices and an unconditional love for groove and energetic pop music.

Shades of Light
Almost exactly two years after their first single, VOXID released their first album Shades of Light in Mai 2018. As the name suggests, Shades of Light is not only the long-awaited answer to VOXID’s fans call for a full album but also proof of an enormously diverse musical color palette. A palette which strongly features the bright and positive colors in a sometimes even funny and ironic way. This is, in particular, true for VOXID’s current single Music ain’t my Thing: humor featuring Funk and Pop at its best.

VOXID Live
Besides their joint musical work, VOXID’s singers still consider themselves as individual musicians who also follow solo careers. These careers already brought them together with many famous German musicians but also international figures like Bobby Mc Ferrin, the New York Voices or Nils Landgren. But more importantly, this independence is a refreshing inspiration for VOXID’s creative identity. An identity which is incredibly harmonic and perfectly synchronized. When VOXID appear on stage it seems they are made just to do what they love to do: singing and entertaining.

The past
Before getting VOXID, the group was touring more than 10 years in 15 countries under the name of tonalrausch. With a focus on self-written vocal jazz arrangements they achieved lots of prizes as the Ward-Swingle-Award (AT) or the International Contemporary A Cappella Competition in Taipei (TW) among many others.

Members: Maike Lindemann • soprano; Diana Labrenz • alto; Gabriel Fuhrmann • tenor; Joachim Rust • tenor; Daniel Barke • bass, beatbox &producing; Sonja Harth • sound design

Ambrosia (NL)

Infinite passion for singing, many years of experience and craving for quality; this is what binds the six singers of Ambrosia a cappella. From vocalist to the conductor to composer, every member has its own solid roots in the world of music. They all bring in their own expertise, with an exciting musical mix as a result. A challenging jazz song, mystical sound palettes, famous pop songs in fresh new versions, improvisation, vocal percussion; Ambrosia does it all. Having started with famous arrangements of e.g. The Real Group and Rajaton, they have recently received their first own jazz composition by Joop van Erven, determined to make their own footprint in the vocal world.

Ambrosia a cappella was founded in March 2018, and presented itself to an audience for the first time on the 1st of June in a private concert. The reactions of the public were overwhelmingly positive. At the end of August, the first public performance in Luxor Live Arnhem followed, a collaboration with the Guus Tangelder Bigband. At the beginning of November, the group collaborated once again, this time with the classical chamber choir Consensus Vocalis in Hengelo, conducted by Ambrosia member Cristoph Mac-Carty. A recital in Castle Doornenburg is planned for April 2019, amongst other things.

The singers:
Marko Maresch – his lowest note cannot be measured – studied music technology and composition in Utrecht, sang in several leading a cappella groups and is undoubtedly the most coveted bass in the Netherlands. Christoph Mac-Carty is not only a baritone and jazz pianist but also the conductor of student choir Dekoor close harmony, that has been the triple winner of the World Choir Games. Alfred de Jonge makes many sopranos jealous of his high tones. He followed several conducting courses and loves to either sing in groups or conduct them himself. Annemarie Homan sang with top groups such as Dekoor, Be Sharp and Vocalicious and is currently studying Vocal Leadership at the Royal Academy of Music Aarhus / Aalborg in Denmark. Elke Jansen, originally a pianist, works with – and writes for – choirs and singing groups of all shapes and sizes, and is, amongst other things, the founder of the Arnhem vocal platform Vocal Vibes. Vera Westera graduated from her singing study at the conservatory with honours twice, won several vocal (jazz) prizes, and is a desirable and gladly heard virtuoso soloist and singing teacher.

Sub5 (D)

sub5 aren’t really funny, they aren’t accompanied by a special light show and their choreographies are quite minimalistic. But they can sing! The sound of the human voice in all its shades is the centre of their vocal journeys. In the last five years, the a cappella community took sub5 with their charm, creative arrangements and groove to their heart. Now for their anniversary they released their first CD [faiv], also available on streaming platforms, and started working on the first original songs.

Well-known melodies and evergreens from all over the world are disassembled and put in a new tailor-made, elegant sub5-garment. On stage, the five individual artists merge into a powerful body of sound. Jazz becomes Pop, Rock turns into Soul and Swing transforms into Tango. Their urge for discovery is unstoppable as long as it can be done vocally.

Jazzation (HU)

Five singers, four albums, three ladies, two gentlemen, in one word: Jazzation. This multi-award-winning acapella group from Budapest (Hungary) has already wound its way into international jury’s hearts in Graz, Pinerolo and Leipzig, but what they feel most proud is having shared the stage several times with wonderful vocal groups and experts from all around the world (e.g. Skety, The Quintessence, The Real Group, Bobby McFerrin). While authentic vocal jazz is their main profile, Jazzation also performs vocal world music inspired by different cultures, as well as numerous original arrangements.

Jazzation consists of 5 unique singers. Internationally recognised bass singer Mate Homor originally specialised in sacral music, while Attila Fabian has a background in world-renowned Hungarian choral singing. Katus Varallyay brings the world music theme to the group, Sara Bolyki pairs jazz singing with folk music mastery, and Gina Kanizsa is both jazz singer and vocal coach, with recent experiences from the well-known RAMA Vocal Center.

Choir Competition

Jazzchor der Uni Bonn
Sabrina ja saarten tyttäret
A-cappella Pop choir
Maze
Momentum
Hellscore

Jazzchor der uni bonn (D)

We, the “Jazzchor der Universität Bonn” (jazz choir of the University of Bonn), are a mixed choir consisting of almost 50 university students, whose love for making and sharing music, a fondness for running gags and concerts on donation basis have been constants since the choir’s inception over 20 years ago.

Jazz, as our name suggests, holds a special place in our hearts. However, with so much wonderful music dispersed throughout the genres, our repertoire celebrates the diversity of musical expression – from slow, soft and sad to loud, upbeat and ecstatic, from traditional tunes to modern day pop songs. No matter what we sing, we always aspire to connect to the meaning and emotions behind each song and find a common sound.

Despite the high turnover of a student ensemble, we had the opportunity to participate in several competitions during the last two years. Most notably, we competed very successfully in the nationally televised contest “Der Beste Chor im Westen” (best choir of the West – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-HMxCOTBOP8) and participated in the federal German choir competition (https://www.musikrat.de/index.php?id=498) where we received the highest score in our category (24 out of 25 points) as well as a special award.

None of these successes would have been possible – nor as much fun – without our director Jan-Hendrik Herrmann, who always nudges us out of our comfort zone and makes us the best choir we can be. Besides expanding our musical skills, he works as a vocal coach and performs as a baritone and beat boxer in the vocal group Soundescape.

Sabrina ja Saarten tyttäret (FI)

YOUNG VOICE COLLECTIVE FROM HELSINKI, Sabrina ja Saarten tyttäret (Sabrina and the Daughters of the Isles), has sparked wide interest and stands out in the Finnish choir scene with its unique Kanteletar – repertoire. Kanteletar, which can be roughly interpreted as “goddess of kantele”, is a collection of Finnish folk poetry compiled in the beginning of 19th century. The music is based on songs composed by founder Sabrina Ljungberg (Master of Music, Sibelius Academy 2018) who conducts the choir by singing along with the choir when performing. The songs are worked on by means of improvisation. Kanteletar’s poets about young woman’s life turn out to be suprisingly current in the hands of Sabrina ja Saarten tyttäret.

Sabrina ja Saarten tyttäret published their first record and music video, Lemmennosto, in summer 2018. The music video got viral having over 32 000 watchers within a few weeks. The record Lemmennosto is on Spotify and represents this voice collective’s unique style and music.

Quintessential to the collective with roughly twenty members, is candid expressiveness and dramatic tension. Concerts have been put into effect in collaboration with visual artists, light artists and featuring musicians. Furthermore the collective has expanded its way of conveying music in the guidance of professional choreographers and body percussionists, which has made physical movement an integral part of the music.

Sabrina ja Saarten tyttaret took part in Tampere Vocal Music Festival 2017 and in an addition to three silver stamps, it received praise due to its all-inclusive and original performance, and the vocal collective was chosen amongst 54 choirs to perform in the closing concert of the Chorus Review. During the fall 2017 the collective arranges communal Kanteletar – workshops aimed at young women as a part of an official Finland 100 years -program. As of now the collective is working on Kantelettaren joulutarina (Mythical Christmas Tale of the Kanteletar) christmas concerts, in which all the songs are composed by the collective’s singers. The project is being executed with the financial aid of Karelian culture society.

A-Cappella Pop Choir (CH)

The A-Cappella Pop Choir aims to unite experienced, ambitious and talented singers from all over Switzerland with the goal to sing modern choral music at a high level, prioritizing homogeneous choral sound and musical precision. The Choir Director Christof Tschudi is supported by the trained CVT Coach Judith Biedermann, who also participates in the choir.

The singers were diligently selected during a large-scale casting in autumn 2017. With its current 27 members, the choir has already reached its upper limit. 8 male and 19 female singers perform up to 8 voiced arrangements. A young and talented beat boxer from Alsace provides the perfect beat whilst keeping himself discreetly but skilfully in the background.

Rehearsals take place during an entire day once a month. The singers prepare themselves dutifully in self-study, in order to emphasize on choir sound and expression during the common rehearsal sessions.

Many arrangements are written and adjusted specifically for this choir by the Choir Director Christof Tschudi. The repertoire is highly topical and reflects songs from the hit parade of the last decades.

Although the choir is still in its early stages, it successfully celebrated its public premiere in autumn 2018 at the Zug Choir Night in front of a large crowd, evoking great enthusiasm and respect from the audience. In its young history, the choir furthermore received a commission from Universal Music Switzerland do to a cover version of an acclaimed hit by Sam Smith.

MAZE Voices (NL)

MAZE is a Vocal Group located in Rotterdam, with twenty talented singers from across the Netherlands. Led by award-winning conductor Merel Martens, they’ve been singing a mix of original songs and extraordinary covers since September 2016. Within the group, there is ample room for improvisation and artistic contribution from the members. MAZE functions under the principal of Vocal Leadership, a unique method of singing that helped MAZE win the BALK TOPfestival in 2017 – the most prestigious a cappella festival in the Netherlands. In February 2018, they took the top prize in the ACA Idol competition at the SingStrong Festival in New York and in June 2018, MAZE became ‘Best Choir of the Netherlands 2018’ during the Dutch Choir Festival. Prepare to be a-MAZE-ed; getting lost has never been so fantastic! Merel Martens is a fulltime choir conductor, arranger and coach. In May 2015 she received a Master’s degree in Rhythmic Choir Conducting from the Royal Academy of Music, Denmark, studying with Jim Daus Hjernoe and Jesper Holm, with the highest possible grades. She is also privately mentored by colleagues such as Peder Karlsson (ex-Real Group) and Roger Treece (co-writer Vocabularies-Bobby McFerrin). Merel conducted among others the award-winning vocal groups “Pitch Control” and “VOÏSZ Vocal Projects” in the Netherlands. In addition, she is the vocal coach for the professional group “The Junction”. In September 2014 Merel founded the ‘Dutch Organic Choir’: an a cappella group based on rotated leadership and style-free original music. Since November 2015, Merel has brought the ‘Intelligent Choir’ method to two Dutch conservatories, educating choir leaders during courses and offering a master’s degree, called Vocal Leadership, in this fairly new discipline.

Momentum (DK)

Momentum er is an ambitious a cappella choir with a varied repertoire from indie ballads over powerpop to crossover. The choir was founded at the Musicology department at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark and has existed for two years.

As its first concert the choir were a warm-up act for the vocal group Basix and recently they were chosen to participate in “Hovedstadens korfestival” (Choir Festival of the Capital), where they received coachings from some of Denmarks best choir conductors.

In other words, Momentum is a young and new choir, who are still getting to know each other. It has been an amazing journey so far and participating in AAVF 2019 would be a significant achievement.

Hellscore (IL)

If hell has a choir, it sounds like Hellscore…

Hellscore is a metal a cappella that has been featured in the critically acclaimed Amorphis album “Queen of Time” (2018), the latest Orphaned Land album “Unsung Prophets and Dead Messiahs” (2018) and the Scardust debut album “Sands of Time” (2017).

Hellscore is a 20 member vocal ensemble of male and female metal heads who sing metal classics, from Iron Maiden and Judas Priest to System of a Down and Linkin Park. A complete metal experience forged from the blend of human voices.

This unholy union of Metal and A cappella is made possible by Orphaned Land choir leader and Scardust vocalist, Noa Gruman (Arranger & Conductor) who brought her lifelong passion and work with vocal music (Israeli Opera, Israeli Philharmonic, Royal Academy of Music in Aalborg), into the metal realm.

In 2018, Hellscore participated and performed on the main stage of Europa Cantat festival in Tallinn, accompanied the giants of Symphonic Metal – Therion – at their show in Israel and supported Orphaned Land at Israel’s legendary Shuni Fort.