From April 27 to Мay 9, 2018, for the second time in a row in Moscow was held the international festival of soloists and musical groups “Moscow spring acapella 2018”. It was attended by 184 participants in 4 categories-solo, 2-4 people (small vocal group), 5-8 people (medium vocal group) and 9 or more people (large vocal group). In total, 1600 people from 16 countries and more than 40 Russian regions performed. Despite the fact that I didn’t devote much time to the festival, I was able to watch the performances of 25 musical groups. How? There were my competent planning and my good physical shape. Spend your next may vacation in Russia. You will have more time than I had and the next festival you will see completely.
In total, 40 stages were created for the festival throughout the capital – on the streets, balconies of hotels and public buildings, on the roofs of restaurants! I chose 11 sites in the city center, created my own schedule and literally ran from one to the other. And the 12th site of performances was two steps from my house-on Novopeschanaya street. It was here, and not in the center of Moscow, that I heard and saw (that is important) the Moscow Cossack Choir – the first prize winners in the category “Big vocal group”. The festival is vocal, why was it important to see them too? Their performances are accompanied by dance numbers and dances, elements of combat and rituals, tricks with swords. It is in support of this view the old Cossack music sounds true and convincing. And judging by their victory in the competition, I’m not the only one who thinks so.
The team was created in 2013, and the members of the ensemble were graduates of the Moscow State University of Culture and Arts (MGUKI). In just a few years, the Moscow Cossack Choir became the winner of international, all-Russian competitions and festivals. And here is their another victory.
But the fight for the sympathy of the jury and the audience was persistent. The first prize was shared by the Moscow Cossack choir with the team from the UK “The Buzztones”. The artists of this group without false modesty call themselves “the main acapella singers in London”. Six friends got together in 2011 to do what they love. Since then, The Buzztones have repeatedly performed live on major TV and radio stations; they sang at important sporting events (for example, at the final of the FA Cup and the Rugby World Cup 2015), held two successful shows at the arts festival in Edinburgh.
I saw their performance as a miracle. According to my schedule, which I made according to information from the Internet, The Buzztones had to perform on the site of “Novopushkinsky square” from 18.00 to 18.30. I was only able to get there at 18.40. And then I see near the scene a group of men suspected of the British species with the same white (!) umbrellas. Well, I came later than my scheduled time and did not rush off to another site, because it was The Buzztones.
Active audience participation in the festival was inspired by a group “CoffeetimeBand “ from Moscow. On the festival’s website, I listened to their promo video (a medley of the soundtracks of the world’s most famous TV series) and realized that I really want to listen to such music.
Аnd I listened to the full performance of these guys, although not the first day of the festival. And again my sympathy was shared by the jury! “CoffeetimeBand” has the third place in the category “Average vocal group” (from 5 people). The team of Coffeetimeband has long been known to the audience of music programs of Russian TV channels. At one of the television competitions, the guys got the first place. The idea to create a group appeared in 2012 at the graduate of the Moscow Conservatory named after Tchaikovsky Alexander Mironov.
My communication with Coffeeetimeband was not limited to their performance. I ran into these guys again on their day off. They came to listen to the other participants of the festival. An interesting coincidence-the group “Pyatero”, later shared with them the third place also came to listen to the same music group! Although, of course, the fact that both of them will receive awards, it was not yet known. By the way, the “Pyatero” finished their performance at another venue only half an hour before this meeting. In this speech, I was in the front row and now their frontman recognized me! I expressed my respect to him and apologized that I had left a little earlier when their performance had a technical hitch – I had to catch another concert venue. He said generously:”That’s right, it was from this place in the concert that we had to leave.”
“Pyatero” from Moscow. The guys are graduates of the Academy of choral art named after Popov. They play with their voices the sounds of guitar, bass, drum set, trumpet and other instruments.
“Pyatero”, “Coffeеtimeband” and I met at the performance of Metro Vocal Group (MVG) from Hong Kong (China). The Quartet of Metro Vocal Group this year turned 20 years old, and it is one of the best groups of a Cappella in Asia. The band was created in the USA, but then the musicians moved to Hong Kong. Before you get to the top, a few years had to perform on cruises and in Hong Kong Disneyland. The repertoire includes their own compositions (in English) and favorite songs of the Chinese. The band’s YouTube performances have been viewed by over 20 million People worldwide.
And again, once again my choice coincided with the opinion of the jury. MVG received the first place in the category “Small vocal group” at the festival.
A little more about Coffeeetimeband. We stood with them in the crowd of spectators literally shoulder to shoulder. The conversation was General, and it turned out that the two singers of the group – adygs by nationality. This is a small Caucasian nation and very melodious! One of them is not from Adygea, but from Kabardino-Balkaria. He explained that it is simultaneously Adyg and Balkarian. Because Balkarian (I didn’t know it before) is not a nationality, but a place of residence. Like an American, for example.
By the way, the Americans, the group Six Appeal, were the first in my journey through the festival. On April 28 at 17.30 they sang from the balcony of the Central market of Moscow. They opened a festival for me, and then they won the Grand Prix this year. Are there so many coincidences?
Performances of these musicians are full of energy and drive of this rock band, and even humor. Real carefree students! And exactly: the future owners of numerous awards began in 2006 as a student team. And just five years later, in 2011 Six Appeal reached the level of 150 concerts a year! They even performed at the star party Vanity Fair Oscar Party. Spend your vacation in Russia next Мay and you will surely be able to see them.
Yes, the Grand Prix is not a joke. The prize Fund of the competition is 20 million rubles, of which 6.2 million rubles is for the owners of the highest award. So the concerts of Six Appeal in Moscow brought them good dividends!
And last year the Grand Prix was won by the participants of the sextet from France Opus Jam. At the heart of their repertoire and compositions by musicians who have recorded at the Studio of Motown Records (Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and others). The group is distinguished by polyphony (six voices of different ranges) in combination with bit-Boxing. But the main thing-charm and humor. 800 concerts around the world, 320 thousand viewers, six albums — it’s all about them, about the French band Opus Jam. In Мay 2016, they sang at the closing of the Cannes film festival.
Opus Jam arrived this year too. I saw them on the third day of the festival and I also have a story connected with them! According to the schedule of performances, I could see their concert in two stages on different days. And the later version was more convenient. But I prefer to gallop run all Tverskaya street and Kuznetsky Мost (about 2 km) to see them on the balcony of the hotel “Savoy”. Why? I felt that it was necessary, and was not mistaken!
First, so that I could make it to the beginning, the performance was delayed by ten minutes. One participant apologized for this in French, and I replied to him: “D’accord!”(French version “OK!”). This remark caused the issue sitting next to a girl. We got to talking, and it turned out that she is the most devoted fan of Opus Jam. Last year, at one of the performances, their leader, Emmanuel, according to the script of the song, had to make a dance tour with one of the spectators. She became my new friend. Emmanuel and she exchanged addresses, corresponded for a year. And here she is again at their concert. Our conversation continued until the very beginning of the concert. I learned about the names and characters of each participant. The most romantic – Mike, the most humorous-Nicolas. I also learned that unfortunately, their former frontman did not come this year. The staff has changed. Maybe that’s why Opus Jam didn’t take the prizes in 2018.
But the success was repeated by the group “Full Moon” from Szeged, Hungary. Just like last year, they received the first prize in the category of “Small vocal group”. The group consists of 4 people. For 15 years of existence, they have released 6 of their albums. Their performance for me was also held on the balcony of the Central Market. Unfortunately, I was almost the only spectator at this concert.
Well, I was also able to visit this festival as the only spectator. I wrote about it in a post dedicated to May 1. On this day, the Italian band “CLUSTER” sang only for me from 14.08 to 14.25. Other spectators simply could not get to the concert hall behind the monument to Karl Marx because of the cordon of the Communist party meeting!
And I pretended to be an employee of 1 TV channel and went to the stage where these three guys and two girls from Genoa heroically continued the performance without spectators. They behaved like real professionals and got the second place among small vocal groups quite deservedly.
This is one of the best vocal groups in Italy. It all began in 2005 when five young musicians met at the Niccolo Paganini Conservatory of music. They have developed their own unique style that combines elements of jazz, pop, and fusion. They recorded six albums, which together received more than 20 CARA awards (Contemporary Acappella Recording Award). And Cluster performed on the same stage with Italian stars Andrea Bocelli, Mario Biondi and Gigi D’alessio. Most of all I was struck by their beauty, who just got used to the image of a solo electric guitar!
Another surprise was waiting for me on May 6, at the last of the performances, which I was able to see. For a whole week I was waiting for a meeting with the group” Cool & Jazzy ” – the first winner of the Ward Swingle Award 2001 (best a cappella group in Europe), a multiple winner and winner of international competitions and festivals.
But … when I rushed to the venue where their concert was scheduled, there were others. The curator of the performances on this stage told me that” Cool & Jazzy ” was removed from the competition, for the conflict between the band members. I never saw them before. But! Instead, they were the band The Alley Cats (Anaheim, California). And performed brilliantly!
And then I found out that it turns out they were doing Broadway shows, performing in numerous TV shows, and even being nominated for a Grammy award! The band originated in 1987 when the doo-wop (rock and roll) revival program was held at Fullerton College. The founder of the group still acts in its composition and most of the “Cats” sings in this team for more than 10 years.
I took a selfie with American musicians. My smartphone lets me down, but in the photo, something can still be seen! Here it is:
The Alley Cats turned out to be a wonderful conclusion of my personal festival “Moscow spring acapella”, which was formed from my own impressions. And I thank the jury for giving them the 1st place, sharing it with the musicians from MVG, which I have already told you about.
For those who are going to spend a vacation in Russia next May, a little more information. During all 13 days at the festival, sites were sold (and next year will also be sold!) souvenir toys handmade in the subjects of Russian fairy tales, ice cream with flavors of bacon, mustard and soy sauce, pink coffee and homemade lemonade, changing color. And children’s clothing made of natural linen, which is attached to the doll in the same clothes. And musical Souvenirs: ethnic Altai musical instruments-harps, vinyl records from rare first editions to inexpensive records, if you are just starting to collect them.
Come to Moscow – it is full of events all year round!