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17 Feb 2016

Anders Edenroth and The Real Group

Continuing the series of spotlight articles about the most prominent composers of MusicaNeo community, we invite you to read about the Swedish composer, arranger and singer Anders Edenroth.

It would be difficult to speak about Mr. Edenroth without centering the story around the vocal ensemble The Real Group where he is the founder and an indispensable part. So a tangible part of this article is going to be dedicated to the creative work of this outstanding quintet. But first let’s focus on Mr. Edenroth and see how he started his music career.

Anders Edenroth

Anders Edenroth, Swedish composer, arranger, tenor singer, music producer and founding member of The Real Group

Anders Edenroth was born in Stockholm, Sweden. Two things designated his musical way from the early childhood – playing piano and singing. Choir singing was Anders’ major during the 10 years of studies at Adolf Fredrik’s Music School. Later the studies in this field continued at The Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm where Anders spent another 5 years studying music. It is in the academy where he met the future members of The Real Group and it’s where he realized that music would now become his lifework:

“When I was a student at The Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm 1984-89 I met with other young and devoted musicians that inspired me to aim for a career in music. At this time, I also formed a five-part vocal ensemble The Real Group with some fellow students. This became my occupation and I still tour worldwide and write a major part of the scores for the group.”

The fellow-musicians, already members of the recently formed a cappella ensemble The Real Group, went all together for a special post-graduate course finishing it with flying colors. That’s when the real journey of the real group began.

About The Real Group

The Real Group

  • A professional a cappella ensemble; the music played includes Pop and Jazz, with all of the scores either composed or arranged by the members of the group.
  • Since 1984 when the group was formed, its members have toured over 40 countries with over 2000 concerts performed and 20 albums recorded. Sometimes the members changed but it has always remained a quintet.
  • The Real Group sings in English and Swedish.
  • Among the sources of inspiration, the group marks the special influence of Bobby McFerrin’s unique vocal techniques.
  • In 2002, The Real Group performed at the FIFA World Cup opening ceremony in Seoul.

By the way, the behind-the-scenes of the group can be watched at their YouTube channel ‘therealgroupdotse’, where the ensemble leads a vlog and posts videos from both concerts/festivals and rehearsals.

Anders Edenroth has written most of the scores for the group’s repertoire. He also was the producer of some of the albums they released. We asked Mr. Edenroth about the other side of the coin, the dark side of composing and the effort it takes to be one. Where does he find the strength and, most importantly, the inspiration for composing?

“Inspiration often comes by chance. It could be a book I’m reading, an interesting conversation with a friend, a strong emotional experience of any kind. When I get these ideas I quickly write them down with a short description of how it came to me. I later use this creative scrapbook when I sit down and compose.

The biggest challenge to me as a writer is the time it takes. I’m becoming more and more thorough every year. Especially my lyrics take many hours to finalize. But throughout my artistic life I have always found things to write about and I’m still curious to see what the next unwritten song will be about.”

Anders is a busy musician. Besides the favorite quintet, he works with other bands, orchestras and vocal groups as composer and arranger, trying to experiment with the new vocal rhythms and textures. He produced albums for other musicians and wrote music for TV, commercials and shows. A few times he was awarded grants from The Swedish National Council for Cultural Affairs and STIM, Swedish Performing Rights Society.

Singing and composing aren’t the only activities, though. Anders Edenroth has also been an active keyboard player (Jazz and Pop), and his music workshops during the festivals and international tours are attended with much interest.

At the personal site of Anders Edenroth at MusicaNeo and in our sheet music catalogue you will find the original a cappella music scores written for The Real Group. Both choirs and vocal groups can get here a few interesting works to sing. The level of difficulty ranges from the easiest to advanced, therefore, every performer can pick something relevant. Some of the popular pieces include the group’s Jazz/Bossa classic “A Cappella In Acapulco” and the popular early-years song “Chili con Carne” that is now frequently picked by musicians for performing at various music competitions worldwide. Here you can also download the artist’s arrangements of popular music standards, like the 1st movement of Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 (“Gee! Mine Or Mozart’s?”). “The World for Christmas” has become the group’s manifest of the concern for the environmental protection.

At the moment, Anders Edenroth lives in Stockholm and keeps performing as a full-time singer in the group. He also goes on composing music for his quintet.

“I will continue to write scores for The Real Group but I’m also expanding my work as a commission composer and arranger. Every ensemble has its own unique expression that I try to capture in my scores.”

According to the musician, were it not for music, he might have become an inventor. Problem-solving and cooking are among Anders’ other non-musical interests. By the way, cooking often reflects in his works: take the playful comic jazz piece “Pass Me The Jazz” piece, for example.

We wish Mr. Edenroth and The Real Group further creative success and new achievements on the vocal music arena!

04 Feb 2016

David Solomons: From Singing to Composing

David has been part of MusicaNeo community for as long as 5 years, since 2011. During this time our sheet music archive has been enriched with hundreds of works by David, both original vocal and instrumental pieces as well as arrangements of classical and folk music works.

David Solomons, UK singer, composer, arranger, one-man choir and guitarist

David did not start his musical career at an early age like many artists do. It happened relatively late for a musician: he took up violin at 14 and guitar at 17. His further music activities did not progress in an ordinary way either. In fact, David is self-taught and has always learnt things by doing and experimenting.

As an alto-range singer, David has performed in and composed for churches in Oxford, London and Manchester. At that time music, however, was not his main occupation – David worked with languages: first teaching, and later in translation for the Civil Service, which was the cause of his moving across the country.

As composer, David Solomons actively started to write own music in 1969. His compositional style was formed under the influence of the numerous music collaborations. Some of them took place at the time when David sang in church while others became possible with the advent of the World Wide Web. Thus, David could find pen-pals in Germany and France and create first music trios (violin-trumpet-piano). His composing skills progressed with every opportunity given:

“It was a very gradual process: in the first 30 decades or so my music existed only as handwritten manuscripts in my home, rarely reached any other musicians and was performed almost exclusively by me and a few close friends at home or in University. As time progressed, I joined various composer associations and found that my music could be heard by a relatively wider audience. The Internet was the big eye-opener, however, and, from the 1990s onwards an ever larger number of musicians throughout the world began adding my music to their repertoire. This was not sufficient to make composition a career, however, and I continued to earn my living as a government translator, and composing and singing only in the evenings. Once I had reached the age of 54, I decided that the time had come to retire from the daily job, take the pension they provided (small though it was), and concentrate on music. I suppose I would say, therefore, that 54 was the turning point and it has been an excellent decision.”

In composing, David has focused mostly on tonal music and experimented with Dorian and Octatonic modes. At the very start of his career he went to the local music shop and inquired whether they had any music for alto/baritone voice. Having received the negative response, he immediately started filling that gap on the music market.

A good part of composer’s inspiration came from poetry. Perhaps this is the reason why many of David’s works are very lyrical, intimate and memorable. Another source was folk music:

“Initially my inspiration came from poetry - specifically the rhythms of poems and the melodies that arose from them in my mind. The poems of authors as wide apart as Jacques Prévert and Gavin Ewart, Du Bellay and David Andrew, Mark Haviland and Marie Keyser are particularly worthy of mention. Other inspirations come from folk dances, folk tunes and occasionally unusual techniques that I have come to know about, such as beatboxing on the flute, multiphonics on the tuba and artificial harmonics on the guitar. It is difficult to identify individual composers who may have influenced my style. It is sui generis, but the styles of Purcell, Bach, Walton and Howard Goodall and some anonymous Chinese, Japanese and Jewish (Klezmer) writers have all had their say in the overall mix.”

Any performer can find something to play in David’s music collection that has expanded tangibly throughout the years. Amateur performers would find a wide range of both choral and instrumental pieces. The pro performers, too, will have a chance to pick a virtuoso piece a two to play on their violin, flute or saxophone, for example.

Here are a few recommendations from David himself:

“Some of my favourites date from the first few years of composing, especially Japanese Song for solo guitar which I wrote for a fellow student at Oxford University in the 1970s and Virgo and Taurus for cello and guitar which I wrote after a very intense weekend in Leicester with a cellist during my postgrad days. The melodies and harmonies in Virgo and Taurus have always remained with me and I have re-used them in several songs and instrumental piece afterwards: always a bitter-sweet and ambiguous feeling.

From more recent times I have a special love for my choral works, some of which I have sung with the choirs for whom they were written, such as the three Manchester Cathedral choirs and the Lutheran Singkreis in Stretford; of these I would mention especially the Mass for men's voices and organ (which has also recently been recorded in an expanded version for choir and orchestra).

However, the one piece that excels for me outside of emotional considerations is the String Quartet, because it is one of my most inventive and original pieces, written in the Octatonic mode (including a movement of polymodality - in which the viola plays in Dorian mode while the other instruments stay in Octatonic). It was beautifully performed a couple of times in the late 1990s but I would love to hear some more recent performances in due course.

On a lighter side, I also compose many quirky and humorous pieces, of which my favourite is "The 12 days of Christmas, a conductor's nightmare" in which all sorts of things go wrong as the choir processes during the season of merriment.”

The sheet music to all of the compositions mentioned above can be easily found via MusicaNeo search facility and directly at the personal site of David W Solomons on MusicaNeo.

As it always takes much effort and determination to achieve a result in any profession, we asked David about the difficulties he came across on his path, about the composing-related ‘dark side’ of the things:

“The only dark side for me is writer's block, as must be the case for many writers and composers (I even wrote a piece all about writer's block, which is somewhat counterintuitive, I suppose!). On the whole I have come to realize that if "it" doesn't come, then "it" is not ready and if I have to force "it", "it" doesn't work. I also found that, if I write a piece especially for the person with whom I have been having a relationship, that usually signals the end of the relationship. I have therefore never written a piece specially for my current significant other, and that current relationship has been happy for over 25 years!”

Music publishers, churches and online organizations have always been very supportive of David’s creative work, which allowed his music being heard in many countries. Many renowned musicians performed David’s pieces – in his personal site’s gallery he publishes the pictures of some of the professional performers he had a chance to work with. His music is performed at concerts in both hemispheres, from UK and France to US, Canada, Australia and Japan, among other countries.

Being a professional singer, David has also recorded an impressive collection of multitrack choral pieces performed by himself under the name “dwsChorale”. Though consisting of just one person, this is in fact an entire choir that sings and records music works by other composers in various styles (12-21st centuries), as well as David’s own works.

“I cannot guess what the future holds: sudden ideas from friends push me in unexpected directions, many of which prove fruitful. However, despite the fact that I am currently writing ever larger scale works, even including an opera for some Austrian authors, I think that small instrumental and vocal ensembles will continue to predominate. I will probably also write more arrangements of well-known pieces, since they seem to be popular, and who am I to go against the flow - oh wait! Going against the flow is what we do ;-)”

David W Solomons is widely represented in MusicaNeo sheet music catalogue (the number of scores currently published approaches 2K), and we are waiting for more of his music to come. You are welcome to get acquainted with the original music works by David as well as his most popular arrangements. Moreover, David is always open to interaction – you can contact him directly any time!

25 Jan 2016

Vladimir Sterzer: Music of the Soul

Vladimir Sterzer was born in Siberia, Russia but has been living in Germany since the age of 14 when he moved there with the family. Already as a young boy, he showed great interest in music. Moreover, that interest was backed by exceptional talent that got disclosed during the first piano lessons at the music school. Soon piano contests and first prizes followed, next – the studies at the Mozarteum University in Salzburg, and today Vladimir is fully submerged in music.

Vladimir Sterzer

Vladimir Sterzer, Russia-born composer, arranger, pianist, guitarist, teacher and music producer living in Germany

Very often musicians start composing after a certain period of being an active performer. Vladimir’s composing career began at the age of 17:

“I composed my first rock ballad for guitar at the age of 17. At that time I played guitar and sang to it. This was the way I started composing.”

He studied Classical, Jazz and Pop music, which certainly reflects in his own music. However, the range of styles expanded over the years and today, besides the above mentioned genres, Vladimir Sterzer also composes New Age, Contemporary Pop, Ambient and Electronica. Music for commercials, films, games and podcasts is part of the composer’s portfolio.

“My music is my life, it is what I feel, what I see, what I experience. I developed my music style myself, it is the expression of my soul. I studied music, majoring in piano and minoring in guitar and jazz & pop music. Nevertheless, I have never compared myself to anybody, nor have I ever copied anyone. I play what is in me and what shall be revealed.”

Vladimir Sterzer has released a few solo albums; those are “MUNDUS MEUS”, “PHANTASIA MEA” and “CHRISTMAS IN” that consist of piano pieces mainly in a mix of Classical and Contemporary Pop styles. He also performs in two bands: the pop-rock band Stressed Out and jazz band Rising Moon Quintet. Besides composing and playing, Vladimir teaches piano, guitar and keyboard. But it’s not all that cloudless in today’s music world, according to the artist:

“I certainly want to achieve a lot with my music. And God knows, I try everything to offer something to mankind. And I have a lot of ideas on how to do it. Unfortunately, today the large production companies have ruined music and only make money out of it. And I am really sorry to say that they don’t know what the soul is.”

We asked Vladimir whether he listens to his own music and if there are any works that stand out in his music collection for one reason or another:

“Yes, of course I listen to my own music from time to time. And yes, I have a few favorites. I can name you one of them: "Remote Light in the Darkness". The reason I sometimes listen to this piece is that I heal my soul with it when I feel bad deep inside. A distant light that I see reaches me and I feel much better. I have received a lot of letters from people who thank me and say they cried and then felt much better.”

As a person of art, Vladimir does not stop where he’s at on his creative music way. He keeps experimenting with style, keeps making plans for his music to be heard by more and more people. We sincerely hope that all of Vladimir’s ideas will be successful in time and that his soul, so beautifully expressed through music, will be open to more listeners.

“I do have plans, I try to find people or organizations that will arrange my concerts, and I want my music to be featured in films as it is very emotional. I want to achieve something great and honestly I have a whole lot of ideas here. I try everything to make my music public and I hope that I will achieve something truly wonderful one day.”

MusicaNeo stores a big sheet music collection of the most popular compositions by Vladimir Sterzer and invites you to discover the emotional music of this artist.

18 Jan 2016

Michael Silverman and His Piano

Michael has already been featured in our Spotlight before as one of the most noticeable composers of MusicaNeo community. But today we would like to introduce you better to his creative work and explain why he is among world’s most downloaded pianists, with at least a million of streams and downloads daily.

Michael Silverman

Michael Silverman, American composer, arranger,
pianist and keyboard player, as well as teacher
and specialist in music therapy.

Taking into account the highly competitive sphere music industry has always been, it is always curious why people still choose to professionally connect their life with music. The question is even more pending when it comes to a composer’s career. So we asked Michael about the very start of his musical life path:

“I always played piano for as long as I can remember, but like most kids, it was just for fun and I never imagined it would be my profession. I began teaching piano at 17, mainly because it paid better than flipping burgers like my friends. But musical opportunities just kept coming, and no other line of work called to me like music, and here I am!”

Michael’s music varies in style, but the four main genres are Classical, Jazz, New Age and World Music. The band “Bach to the Future” where Michael is both composer and performer has already toured across the Unites States, performing the popular classical pieces, fugues and symphonies – by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven – in a curious mix of styles from jazz to rock, with folk motives admixed. The unique rendition of the famous classics paired with Michael’s original pieces and distinctive delivery style made this music attractive to a wide audience, to everyone, in fact.

Video: Bach to the Future: Minuet/Little Fugue

Where might this mix come from? What inspired the birth of such a music style? We are addressing Michael again:

“I grew up as the son of two classical musicians, and my father listened almost exclusively to orchestral music and chamber music, but my mother liked everything. She loved George Winston's album "December" when I was about 12 years old, and I never got that sound out of my head. I discovered the music of Chick Corea when I was about 17, and I still think of those two pianists as my pillars of piano playing, and reflect two very different sides of this versatile instrument.”

Michael’s also known for composing music for TV, films and radio. His music appears in “The Good Wife”, “Two and a Half Men”, “American Horror Story” and hundreds of other productions of the kind. But there are always difficulties in any activity, even in the one that makes one’s life passion. Michael speaks of the obstacles on his way as composer:

“My main obstacle to enjoying composing in the past was as a jingle writer. I enjoyed writing any style of music for TV commercials and films, but never liked the revision process that inevitably followed. The creative part was always a much smaller portion of the project, as producers and clients required so many changes. These days, when my music is included in a film or TV show, they place it as it is, so I never have to worry about revisions. It's much better this way!”

Every composer has a piece or a few that are especially important in his or her career for one reason or another. For Michael, that ‘special’ music work is “The Rain Variations” that was released by his own record label “Autumn Hill Records” (Michael is the co-founder) in 2015:

The Rain Variations

“I'm particularly happy with my latest collection of pieces, called "The Rain Variations". It is some of the simplest music I've ever written, but I think it has a timeless quality. I have been striving to find the simplest essence of what the piano can do, and this is the closest I've come to that goal.”

And of course, Michael Silverman is full of plans and ideas. Currently he lives in St. Louis, Missouri and works on a number of projects. We asked him to shade some light on the on-going work:

“Strange is this might sound, I'm working on a version of Franz Liszt's "Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2" which will be arranged for my group "Bach to the Future." The album will feature a lot of great artists, including Dweezil Zappa, Jennifer Batten (Michael Jackson), John Patitucci, Steve Smith (Journey), Jeff Lobber, David Benoit, Eric Marienthal and many others. It will be a really exciting album!”

We are thankful to Michael for sharing some of his thoughts with us. MusicaNeo wishes him best of luck in all the endeavors and endless inspiration for bringing great music into this world!

Video: Bella’s Lullaby by Michael Silverman, solo piano