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Singing Groups Collaborate For Concert


Photo credit: The Real Group

Written by: Colby ShoupMarch 01, 2017

Local and international talent will combine when Swedish a cappella ensemble The Real Group performs with Fort Wayne vocal group Heartland Sings.

The two will perform together 7:30 – 10 p.m. March 24 in the Auer Performance Hall.

The event will mainly be a Real Group concert, but will include several songs featuring Heartland Sings, said Heartland baritone Jerome Sibulo.

“The Real Group has been huge since they first started in the ‘80s,” Sibulo said. “They sort of became our model for our group when we do a cappella jazz pieces. I’ll try to get over the whole starstruck side of me when I meet them because we’ve all been fans of them for so long.”

First formed in Stockholm in 1984, The Real Group features a rotating collective of five professional singers that tour the world performing original compositions. They have been a major influence on modern American a cappella groups such as Pentatonix and Manhattan Transfer, according to the concert’s Facebook page.

One of the members of the group’s current incarnation is Janis Strasdinz, a bass-baritone. Strasdinz first auditioned for the ensemble two years ago, but said he has been a fan since he was 10 years old.

“One of the advantages of The Real Group is the wonderful composers and arrangers in the group who create unique songs especially written for the participants of the group,” Strasdinz said in an email. “There’s also the ability to sing in various styles of music and collaborate in different combinations with big band, orchestras, choirs and solo artists.”

A key part of performing with any a cappella group is this willingness to collaborate, Sibulo said. The five full-time members of Heartland Sings work closely together on a daily basis, which Sibulo said makes them stronger as singers and helps form a close bond between group members.

“With a such an involved rehearsal schedule, you really get to know the people that you’re working with,” Sibulo said. “You get to know each other very well and you get to know each other’s voices really well. The four other people Heartland Sings with me are like siblings now, and I would think that the people in The Real Group have that experience too.”

The Real Group got its name from “The Real Book,” a songbook first published in the 1970s that compiles some of the most popular jazz songs. Songs from the book have been performed by artists such as Miles Davis and Stevie Wonder. When it was first formed, The Real Group mainly sang songs from the book, but have since expanded their setlist to include newer music, said Helena Roos, tour manager for The Real Group.

Originally, the ensemble’s influences included Wonder, Joni Mitchell and Aretha Franklin, but new iterations of the group take inspiration from every genre, Roos said.

This wide range of genres has made the ensemble a unique group of performers in the music industry, according to their official website.

“The audience will experience what five voices can accomplish when being put together,” Roos said. “People attending the concert can expect a nice evening with good music, a few laughs and hopefully people will feel a sense of hope and inspiration for the future as they walk out of the venue.”

Tickets to the concert are $15 for students and $30 for general admission. Presale tickets cost $25 and can be purchased online through www.ipfw.edu/tickets. VIP tickets, which include a signed CD and meet-and-greet with The Real Group, are $75.