Vocal Asia Festival 2015 – Impressions of Day 1

Origin From : Vocal Blog
Author : Juliana Baron
Date : 2015.09.13

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) as well as the 2nd Asian Cup A Cappella Competition. It was an amazing festival and I still try to figure out which of the many great moments have been my favorites? Although, already several weeks passed, I would like to share with you some in-sight impressions and several very interesting talks on Asian A Cappella – here comes part 1:

Day 1: It’s not all about winning.

On Wednesday (Aug 5) the festival started with the 2nd Asia Cup A Cappella Competition. Awesome groups from whole Asia (Taiwan, Korea, China, Singapore, Japan, Hongkong) were performing. As Deke Sharon (member of the Jury) said, it is unbelievable how much the Asian groups improved over the last few years. Refreshing young groups, powerful voices, a lot of up-tempo pop songs and, just a few, but beautiful arrangements of local songs from their respective country. „The Present“ for instance, performed a charming version of the Korean folk song Arirang. Absolutely mind-blowing was the youngest group, high school students from Taiwan: 尋人啟事人聲樂團 The Wanted. They took the audience on a journey through up and down emotions, making us clap along with Pharrell’s „Happy“, filling tears in our eyes with „Maybe tomorrow“ a Taiwanese song with a breath taking solo by Fangchi Hyun and blowing the audience away with a powerful and precise Get Lucky of Daft Punk. Special guest and last performance before the judges were announcing the results of the contest was EXIT from Korea, winners of the first Asia Cup Competition in 2012. During the break, I had the chance to do a short interview on their musical journey since their success 3 years ago (see below).

„And the winner is…“ – The international jury consisting of Deke Sharon, Guangxian Chen, Kaichiro Kitamura, Roger Thomas and Ray Chu, was very clear about the first price – well-deserved, going to The Wanted from Taiwan. Second, The Present from Korea and third, the City Singers from China. But the judges also awarded a special price, a special price for living the „spirit of a cappella“. Because it is not all about winning, it is about going on stage, singing with all your soul and heart, bringing joy to the audience and enjoying and having fun with your group – and sometimes to stand-in for a team member. A few hours before leaving for the competition, a member of Singapore’s group NANU stepped out. Rather than resigning from the competition, NANU decided to sing with the remaining members and shared their joy of singing with the audience. For me, this was indeed the spirit of the whole festival and the jury’s special price relieved the tension, somehow the atmosphere changed from „who is best?“ to „let’s sing together, let’s make friends and let’s exchange our experience and learn from each other“. So, the special price for NANU became my greatest moment of Day 1.

Interview with EXIT 엑시트 from Korea (the interview was done in Korean language)

Juliana: In 2012, you won the first Asia Cup A Cappella Competition. Since then, how did your life change?

Young-June: It seems it became more difficult (laugh).

Jin-Hyuk: Well, it didn’t change that much. It’s just that we could start to work and tour in the Greater China region, like Hongkong, Taiwan, China, ah and also Japan. Before, nobody knew us in those countries. Vocal Asia really helped us.

Juliana: So, how often are you going abroad for concerts? How much are you on tour?

Young-June: Well, most of our concerts are in Korea, about twice or at most three times a year we are touring abroad. But once, we are going to foreign countries for concerts, of course, we are doing a lot at a time.

Juliana: Can you live from singing and touring? Is Exit your full-time job?

Seul-Ki: Yes, it is our full-time job.

Juliana: In Korea success and high reputation is so important in all areas of life. Do you think, it is also necessary to win a competition as an a cappella group to have the chance to gain popularity and be successful?

Young-June: I would rather say, although having won a competition, most of the groups have to really work extremely hard for their success. I would say, there is no relationship whatsoever between winning a competition and being successful. There are professional groups who never took part at a competition and still are very successful, there are other groups having won competitions, but struggling and working really hard to gain some popularity. So, you cannot rely on being successful after winning a competition.

Juliana: In Korea and in whole Asia K-Pop (Korean pop music) is very popular. Does it help or does it make your life more difficult?

Jin-Hyuk: It helps.

Seul-Ki: Yes, it definitely helps.

Jin-Hyuk: When we go to countries like Hongkong, China, anywhere were the Hallyu wave is strong (Hallyu stands for the increase in the popularity of South Korean culture since the late 1990s) and if we prepare K-Pop repertoire we feel even more close and the audience loves it.

Juliana: Did you watch Zenith’s performance at this year – through the Youtube-live-broadcast?

Jin-Hyuk: Yes, we did.

Juliana: How was your feeling watching your fellow Korean a cappella group performing overseas?

Seul-Ki: Of course you feel with your fellow Koreans going this far of a journey to compete in Europe. Big congratulations! And my full respect, they had to cover the whole costs by themselves, for sure not an easy thing. The more I am happy, that they could return with this wonderful result.

Juliana: For the participating teams at this year’s Asia Cup Competition, what do you recommend them for their future career?

Seul-Ki: Fighting! (laugh)

Chan-Han: And have fun! Enjoy!

Juliana: Thank you, for this interview! Looking forward to your performance tonight!



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