Hong Kong

Music Delight Series: The Real Group

Time: September 25, 2018 (Tue) 16:00
Venue: Auditorium, Yuen Long Theatre ( 9 Yuen Long Tai Yuk Road, N.T., Hong Kong )
Fee: $220, $180, $120  Buy Ticket Online 

Music Delight Series: The Real Group

The legendary a cappella group from Sweden touches ears and hearts with their amazing, pure vocals of folk, jazz and pop.

Vocals and More

The fascinating thing about a cappella is that it does not call for any special tools or huge investment. All it takes is to get a group of singers together, and you can have a wealth of music, varied in genre and style, through their vocals. It is precisely because of the pleasures it brings at a “low-cost” that new a cappella groups are mushrooming around the world. As new groups emerge, many long-standing groups remain strong and hold sway – one of the best examples is the Swedish a cappella quintet, The Real Group.

The Real Group was formed in 1984. Like many in the field, the original members came from the same school, the Royal College of Music in Stockholm. They did not know each other at the beginning, and only got together because of the curriculum, with the aim of forming a group to enrich their ensemble performance experience. Their first idea was to form a band, not a vocal group, but they dropped it as there were already too many bands around. It just happened that Bobby McFerrin was giving a show in Sweden at the time, and the idea of doing a cappella sparked off right there and then. The a cappella ensemble, The Real Group, was born.

A cappella was not as popular then as it is now, and there were not many that the group could model upon except Bobby McFerrin and The Swingle Singers of England. Having said that, it was in fact what they wanted: they had no intention of repeating what others had done and wanted to sing in their own style only. With this in mind, they developed their own ʺreal voiceʺ. Decades later, the group may have gone through many member changes (of the founding members, only tenor Anders Edenroth remains), but they managed to keep their characteristic sound to this day.

In their debut in Hong Kong many years ago, I was totally impressed by the quality of their performance. They have a rich and varied repertoire of vocal styles, which allow them to cover pop, jazz, Swedish musical numbers from back home, as well as many original compositions. Yet The Real Group's influence is not limited to first-class performances; they themselves have become a model for those who come after them. Many of their arrangements, such as You Sing, I Sing, Chili Con Carne, and Pass Me The Jazz, are now popular standards for the ʺrookiesʺ.

The ensemble has forayed into a cappella education by establishing The Real Group Academy. It is a unique move for an ensemble to form an eponymous institute, but it does expand their influence in the a cappella community. I took part in a workshop led by Peder Karlsson, leader of The Real Group Academy and founding member of The Real Group, now one of its executives. From it I learned that their training involves more than just singing. For example, in one exercise, the participants were required to hum part of a piece and do some ʺsimpleʺ corresponding moves like beating the left thigh with the right hand, clapping, etc. But the moves need to punctuate with varied beat points, and all the while escalating in speed. It was so challenging that a participant would question his/her coordination of limb movements. The purpose of this exercise is to train the body to feel the beat, and eventually, to achieve better unison in performance.

On their return visit to Hong Kong, The Real Group will be singing many original classics such as Words and Pass Me The Jazz, as well as songs from their latest album ʺElementsʺ, such as Water, where the performers will blow on bottles as they sing, and Catch Up, Ketchup!, which tells the story of what happens to some plants that are on their way to a concert by The Real Group. The audience will get to appreciate how, by upholding their principle of maintaining an independent style, characteristic sound, widespread influence and comprehensive training, the a cappella ensemble has managed to stay at the very top.

(Article provided by Edison Hung) (English translation provided by KCL Language Consultancy Ltd.)

Performers: The Real Group
Soprano: Emma Nilsdotter
Alto: Lisa Östergren
Tenor: Anders Edenroth
Baritone: Morten Vinther
Bass: Jānis Strazdiņš

(Workshop on 25 September) Details:



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