Contestants – Choirs
Winners of the competition:
Musta Lammas from Finland won the 1st prize in the choir competition at AAVF 2017. The second prize went to Syng Selected from Denmark and the third prize to Dekoor Close Harmony from The Netherlands. Thank you to all of the participants in the competition – you have all brought happiness and beautiful music to the AAVF 2017.
DOC – Dutch Organic Choir
The Dutch Organic Choir (DOC) is a group of 12 singers who make style-free a capella music while blending original compositions and improvisation. We work with rotating leadership, original repertoire of written scores and improvisation, as well as the concepts of the Organic Choir, originally developed by Peder Karlsson who also founded DOC in 2014 together with Merel Martens.
Some of our songs are original compositions with set arrangements, though always with a link to improvisation. Other pieces are completely improvised in the moment, based on more theatrical forms like those of Rhiannon. And between these two extremes, there is a wealth of music that we’ve only just began to explore. We like to make our concerts adventurous and entertaining, and we like to involve our listeners. We often invite the audience to participate as well, to immerse them in the full organic musical experience.
In 2016, DOC notably featured on the TIN festival for improvised vocal music in Düsseldorf and the Dutch acapella festival DBGA, where we won the audience prize. Furthermore, we collaborated with renowned Amsterdam jazz musicians Onno van Swigchem (sax) and Marko Bonarius (bass) in our first concert with instrumentalists. Finally, we premiered our inspirational DOC workshop. We like to share what we’re learning! In our workshop, which we’ve given four times this year to both groups of singers and non-singers, we teach our way of working and improvising.
Syng Selected is a youth choir consisting of 31 singers, aged 18-30. The singers come from all over Denmark and they are selected as some of the best choir singers of their age.
Syng Selected was formed in 2014 by Danish youth choir organization Syng (meaning Sing!) and has already achieved great recognition and is known as one of the most talented youth choirs in Denmark.
Syng Selected performed at AAVF in 2015, opening the festival together with Postyr. Since then, the choir has found its own style and sound, singing primarily original a cappella arrangements. The repertoire is a mix of strong ballads, catchy pop and groovy funk, as well as modern versions of traditional Danish songs.
Syng Selected always sings with a lot of passion and a fantastic energy that captures and excites the audience.
Line Groth is the conductor of Syng Selected. In addition to being one of the five members of Postyr, she also sings in and arranges for Vocal Line.
Dekoor Close Harmony
Jazz, pop, gospel, classical. Sometimes fragile, minimal and subdued. Often ecstatic and energetic. Young, fanatical, sexy, musical, confident and sincere. Prepare to be moved and blown away.
Dekoor Close Harmony consists of 30 students from Utrecht. Dekoor sings jazz and pop, but also experiments with gospel, classical music and other genres. Led by director Christoph Mac-Carty, Dekoor sings either a capella or accompanied by a jazz combo. In addition to the music, Dekoor pays a lot of attention to their stage performance: every year a fitting theatrical setting is created by stage director Roeland Müller.
Dekoor will forever be known as the choir that performed with the Rolling Stones at Pinkpop festival (NL) and Werchter Classic (BE) in 2014. Furthermore, the choir performed with Damien Rice in the Royal Theatre Carré in Amsterdam. Last year, Dekoor made their entrance into the professional theatre scene, as they presented their very own theatre production in 15 different theatres throughout the Netherlands. A big success, leading to their return to the Dutch theatres in 2017. In summer 2016, Dekoor blew away the ‘citizens’ of Sziget Festival in Hungary: their entrance to the international festival stage couldn’t have been received with more enthousiasm.
A portrayal of Dekoor is not complete without the description of the awards that they have received. Dekoor was named triple world champion Jazz and Pop (2010, 2012, 2014) at the World Choir Games. Furthermore, they repeatedly defended the title Best Dutch Vocal Group and are still well known for winning the television show ‘Clash of the Choirs’ in 2007 (NL).
Musta lammas is the first Finnish choir ever to enter the AAVF Choir Competition. The group was founded in early spring of 2016 and consists of 23 professional musicians from Helsinki. All of their arrangements that vary from soulful covers to their own original material are custom made for Musta lammas. Adding the group’s performance magic to them you can hear irresistible grooves and delicious soundscapes.
Musta lammas is Finnish for “black sheep”, pointing at their position as ground breakers within the Finnish choral scene, which is currently dominated by ambitious projects within mostly contemporary and folk music. The group wishes to bring something new to the Finnish music scene and be an inspiration for both choirs and individuals by combining passion for rhythmical music with high-level musicianship.
Participating in the AAVF choir competition is a long-term goal and a big milestone for the group. In addition, Musta lammas had their first live performance just almost a year ago, on the 5th of June 2016. The group’s trip to Aarhus has been supported financially by The Finnish Music Foundation, Svenska kulturfonden and Sibelius Academy.
The group was founded and is led by Ida Olsonen, who is currently finishing her master’s degree at Sibelius Academy at the University of Arts, Helsinki. Ida is a composer, arranger, pedagogue and singer. She’s also known as a founding member in the vocal quintet Ensemble Norma (2nd prize in the vocal group competition / AAVF 2013).
Fontys Jazz Choir
The Fontys Jazz Choir (FJC) was founded in 2003 by its conductor Hans van den Brand. Eleven young ambitious vocalists who are a student or alumni from the Department of Fontys School of Fine and Performing Arts can be a member for a maximum of five years. The choir specializes in performing jazz, pop, gospel and fusion styles, a Capella or with a backing band. They’ve been participating in and giving concerts at numerous vocal festivals, events and competitions.
In January 2010, FJC won the National TV competition “Battle of the Choirs” and proudly carried the title “Best Dutch Choir” for two years. They were invited for many concerts and festivals in The Netherlands and abroad.
Between 2011 and 2014, FJC gave several concerts at Dutch Liberation and Jazz Festivals. They were also invited as booth choir in the live TV Musical Awards Gala broadcast. In July 2013, the choir was selected to perform in the Champion’s Competition Pop and Jazz during the World Choir Games in Riga (Latvia). They won two golden medals and a top three classifications in both categories.
In 2013, FJC celebrated its 10th anniversary with a fantastic concert tour in China (May), a thrilling Reunion Concert (December) and reached a top 3 classification in the Top Category of the National Top Festival in De Doelen Rotterdam. They were the winner of the National BALK Top Festival November 2015, and in December 2015, they released a new CD. Last July, the choir was the convincing Golden Medal Winner of the World Choir Games Jazz Competition in Sochi.
They have been runner up at the AAVF twice, but in 2017, they are one of the finalists in the AAVF competition.
The Copenhagen-based choir Vokalkompagniet consists of 22 skilled and experienced professional singers. The choir is characterised by its strong musicality and presence on stage and has been performing for 20 years in and outside of Denmark. For several times during the recent years, Vokalkompagniet has been touring with The Spooky Men’s Chorale in England. On the tours, they have been doing concerts as well as conducting workshops for local choir singers. Vokalkompagniet has made TV and radio appearances and they have a viral hit on youtube.
Their repertoire consists of Nordic songs, country and bluegrass, modern pop classics and swing jazz as well as other genres, and they often seek inspiration in new music styles. But as well as experimenting and challenging themselves, the choir sticks to its love for picturesque and emotional a capella pop compositions. Their way of engaging with different music styles has led to collaborations with groups like the jazz orchestra Six City Stompers and Banjo player Peter Banks. Vokalkompagniet has also worked with several guest teachers.
Vokalkompagniet recently started hiring a new conductor every year. Simone Maja Pedersen has been the conductor of the choir since August 2016. Simone has a bachelor’s degree in musicology from Copenhagen University and a master’s degree in rhythmic singing and choir conducting from The Royal Academy of Music and has a lot of experience within both fields. She is currently conducting both Vokalkompagniet and the Copenhagen-based choir NoteAble.