This year there were three concerts held during the Vocal Asia Festival 2017 (VAF). I had only attended the VAF Concert on 18th Aug. The purpose of VAF Concert is to invite groups from different region to perform their very own music in different style, so as to demonstrate the rich cultures of Asia.
There were seven groups performed at that night. The first group were the participants from the workshop “Single Singers”. They sang The Lion Rock and Lifetime Take a Lifetime to Fulfill learnt from three sessions of workshop in the Festival. I think the meaning of the performance shouldn’t be measured by how perfect they could have sung, but by their effort in learning something new, something different from their culture. I was touched when I found some of the performers practiced together before the show.
The second team was Seagull-K Vocal Band from Taiwan. They were the second runner-up of the Asian Cup A Cappella Competition held two days before the show. They gave a very solid performance with simple yet effective staging and action. The dissonant sound was accurately executed. They also incorporated different Chinese elements in their programme such as tribal folk song and imitating the sound of Chinese instruments.
The team followed was the female quartet Water Singers from Macau. They performed a condensed version of their theatrical work Picturesque. The performance was abstract and experimental. They kept on walking around the stage with a mic stand. Although there were no lyrics nor melody, they successfully told the story through the change of colors in the music, staging as well as their facial expressions. It was a very original and unique performance of the night.
Narin, the champion of the Asian Cup A Cappella Competition performed after the Water Singers. They were formed last year. The blending of their voices was very well done, especially between the male lead and the female singers, probably due to the uniformity of their singing method. They performed in a very calm manner and put focus on interacting with the audience.
The performance by the Japanese group Chameleon Gakutai, without a doubt, was the highlight of the night. The members of this quartet worn colourful traditional Japanese costume Yukata. They formed a circle and sang the chord every time before the start of each song. The performance was characterized by the traditional Japanese singing tone. It was a very entertaining and funny performance. The atmosphere got even higher when their compatriot, the beatbox master Kaichiro Kitamura joined them for the last song.
The influence of the Pentatonix was clear that night. For instance, Chameleon Gakutai had performed a song call the Evolution of Japanese Music, inspired by PTX’s the Evolution of Music. But none of the teams were influenced so profoundly like PKT from Mainland China. They had sung two songs, Aha! and Carol of the bells, both were arrangement from PTX. I believe their potential was yet to be discovered and hope they can try to present their own arrangement in the future.
The concert ended with a performance by Singaporean team The Apex Project. It was their Hong Kong debut. They had included one of the original song Sugar from their EP released earlier in the year. Their high-energy performance reminded me of their predecessor MICappella. The performance by the female vocal percussionist was very impressive.