Singing and ensemble singing has a long tradition in countries all over the world. It is an essential part of many nations’ cultures. It is also a wonderful way to connect people across borders and promote international understanding. Singing in choirs and vocal ensembles have long been recognised as a way to express oneself and to develop social relationships.
For a long time, actually until the mid-1980s, singing in groups in Europe mostly meant singing in choirs. The vocal scene was the choral scene, which was based on classical and church music of the great European composers as well as traditionals and folk songs.
Starting in the late 80s, singers in Europe began to explore new possibilities of composing, arranging and performing vocal music. They were inspired by the US tradition of doo-wop, gospel, barbershop and a cappella music, and by global pioneers like Bobby McFerrin, Take 6, The King’s Singers, The Swingle Singers and The Real Group.
Today this process has evolved into an extraordinarily diverse and colourful scene of European vocal, a cappella and choral music. There are now many small a cappella ensembles and choirs specialized on rhythmic choral music. And this young scene has quickly developed repertoires, styles and sounds of its own.
One of the things that makes European a cappella music special is the broad variety of cultural backgrounds that influence the vocal and choral music of today. These backgrounds give new European vocal music a unique voice. Or, in fact, many unique voices!
This manifesto is a natural reaction to the growth of the vocal, a cappella and choral music scene in Europe. The people who have signed the manifesto are convinced that the time has come to give this international movement a framework in order to help it grow and prosper.
The signees of this document agree on the following basic principles:
- Singing in a group is a socially valuable activity.
- Singing in a group is a culturally valuable activity.
- Composing, arranging, singing and performing vocal music can bring out the best in people, regardless of age, religion, race, profession, educational or cultural background.
- Both professional and non-professional singers and ensembles are important for the development of the genre – they need each other.
- International cooperation in Europe is a key factor for the successful development of the vocal music scene.
- The natural variety of European styles is a unique gift. It must be nurtured and cherished.
- Singing in a group must play an important part in education of young people. As many professional singers in the European network as possible should be involved in educating people in the area of vocal music.
- Singing in a group is an art form, that deserves more attention and needs more publicity.
- Ensemble Singing needs a stronger lobby and European funding.
- To make European cooperation and networking happen, a European organization should be set up: The European Voices Association (EVA).