After dazzling their loyal Asian audience, they arrive at the Teatro Principal of Zaragoza in the sixth edition of their own festival

B Vocal: “30 years ago there was no one crazy enough to make an a cappella music group”

After dazzling their faithful Asian audience, the group arrives on the stages of the Teatro Principal of Zaragoza in the sixth edition of the International B Vocal A Cappella Festival from June 21 to 23

Cristina Morte Landa Tuesday, June 4, 2024 / 18:01

It was 1995 when a group of young musicians and artists trained in the most varied schools, from higher music conservatories to the Infanticos del Pilar choir in early childhood, decided to found an a cappella group. Almost 30 years have passed since that and with the firm conviction that at that time there was no one “as crazy” as them, B Vocal celebrates three decades with more concerts , shows, spectacles, galas and unforgettable moments than they can count. From performing in some of the best national theaters in Asia to being criers at the Pilar Festivals and opening for Bonnie Tyler, the a cappella group is about to start a new tour in South Korea (and there are already a dozen of them).

After dazzling their loyal Asian audience who, by the way, “have a lot of sense of humor”, they will land at the Teatro Principal of Zaragoza in the sixth edition of their own festival (Festival Internacional B Vocal A Cappella) from June 21 to 23. Augusto González , Carlos Marco , Fermín Polo , Juan Luis García , Satur Rodríguez and Carlos Valledor (the latter two new additions) remember those beginnings and everything they have left to do.

The group is about to start a new tour in South Korea
The group is about to start a new tour in South Korea

QUESTION.- You are about to pack your suitcase and go to South Korea on a new tour. How is a cappella music received in such distant countries, both geographically and culturally?
JUAN LUIS GARCÍA.- We always think that the Asian public is very different from us and they are going to like different things and, in the end, we really are people and we tend to like quite similar things. They have a great sense of humor and, specifically, South Korea, I think that influence with the United States also has to do with it and it shows because the public is super enthusiastic. They shout everything at you
CARLOS MARCO.- Total… You say a word in Korean and they already go crazy. This year, more than saying what we are going to do, it is what we are not going to do because it has been like four years since we went to Korea and we are going to bring you the best of the best, from beatbox to flamenco , heavy, laser… all to impress those fans who are already waiting for it.

Q.- You are going to turn 30 in 2025 between new additions and endless concerts and performances. How do you remember those beginnings?
AUGUSTO GONZÁLEZ.-   Well, really the beginnings are the essence and what builds what we are now. Everything we have been accumulating in these years has been experience, many concerts, international experience and many tables because we have greatly diversified our product. We have done the same concerts, events, educational concerts, training concerts, workshops… and let’s say that the group is very quick to deal with any artistic eventuality that may arise, and that also gives you a foothold and a series of national and international circuits. that we have been consolidating. But the essence is the same as what you are seeing here, five voices, five companions who, through harmonies and good humor, reach the hearts of the public.
JLG-  We could say that we moved a little away from the classic concept of a cappella group with which we started. So in that sense we have been growing, changing, drinking from various sources so that what we do is not just a concert but a show where there is a lot of humor, an important theatrical component, lighting effects, dancing… Let it be a constant surprise for the public trying to reach all the musical styles that come to mind, which really is almost all of them.

Q.- What was the situation like 30 years ago?
CM- The situation was that there was no one crazy enough to form an a cappella group and also dedicate themselves to it professionally. We were the first in Aragon and in Spain we had the reference of the Apple Golden Quartet, and we also invited them to our festival last year and it was a very beautiful and very magical moment because it was like going back a little to the past. It is true that there were other international references that also impacted us and created our path. The truth is that our professional life has been an accumulation of several things. I remember when we arrived in Asia and we were on the same bill as our idols and, let’s say, that’s how we knew we had reached something big.

Q.- Sixth edition of the International B Vocal A Cappella Festival , how has it evolved and how did this event come about?
JLG  . As a group, we have attended different festivals around the world and the experience of doing so as participants has made us see the influx of audiences at a cultural level and at all levels. It is also a way of making homeland, because we always make homeland wherever we go, from Zaragoza, Aragon and Spain and bring those people from festivals that we know from Austria, the United States, Asia , inviting them to come to Zaragoza, Aragon and know this land. And at the same time, in Zaragoza they not only see us, but also get to know the cast of groups that exist internationally, the variety of styles that exist…

CM- Also convey a little of the feeling we had at those festivals, where an incredible atmosphere was created, people enjoyed a cappella music…It is true that in the center of Europe the taste for musical culture is more established, much more than in Spain, and we wanted that to happen here.

Q.- In these three decades you have done a total of 3,500 concerts . Is there any that you have a special affection for?
JLG- The truth is that there are a few…I remember the first ones in the national theaters of Beijing or Taiwan, those temples of music where Western artists hardly enter and which are immense and spectacular. Those made me think: “But what are we doing here?”
CM- Some Pilares opened for Bonnie Tyler on Paseo Independencia, before about 100,000 people. For us it was a turning point…
FERMÍN POLO.-   Also the time to be town criers, right? That was very, very exciting. I remember the presentation of the Juan Carlos I Prize for Journalism where the kings, now emeritus, were present, and that same day ETA said it was laying down its arms. And then singing ‘Color Esperanza’ in front of the kings of Spain, the day ETA said it was abandoning its weapons, for me at least it was very shocking and very emotional.
AG- I would stick with a little thing we did in Almudévar with families who had lost their children to cancer. Every year these families hold a meeting to explain a little how they feel, their emotions… And it’s the only time I haven’t been able to finish a song. I stay with that because it is such a vivid memory that it marks you.
SATUR RODRÍGUEZ.- I am one of those new additions to the group and as soon as you start working with B Vocal you realize the scope that the company has, which is not only going out to sing and that’s it, but all of this that we are talking about, concerts charities, solidarity actions… reaching people in different ways through music. I remember two moments. El Principal full of people at the a cappella festival. The six of them on stage, singing, that moment when you finish and the theater collapses is like… oysters! If I have to sing another song I won’t be able to… Then I also remember in the Zaragoza Auditorium with the Amici Musicae choir , a lot of children with us on stage. They are very emotional moments in which you realize the magnitude of B Vocal.

Q.- What has it been like to join a group with so much experience?
SR- We had known each other for a long time, we have been friends for about 10 or 11 years and we had worked together on some occasions. It all arose from a specific substitution that I made at one point, specifically for Carlos (Marco). The truth is that I wasn’t very sure that he would be able to fill that role but in the end I was able to do it. So, when the other moment of substitution came in the formation, it was one of those names that they had on the table and here I am. I always tell them, but it is a huge learning experience because I am a musician, I have never before had to go on stage to learn a repertoire and defend it, much less a cappella. Facing this has been a challenge because I felt that I was stagnant professionally and that I had to pull in some direction and change and the truth is that it was the “click” that I needed.

Q.- Any dream as a group that you still have to fulfill?
FP- It is very curious that looking at the group’s 30-year history, we have made continuous tours to Asia and Latin America, but we have not yet gone since we have the direct link of the language.
CM- Now we have a project, which we will see if it comes out, to go to Cuba next year because we cannot finish our degree without going to Latin America.
AG- It is true that they have invited us to different festivals there, but for one reason or another in the end we have never gone, due to agenda issues we have not been able to fit in… I agree that it is curious, in a place where the language It unites us that the show would work great, that we haven’t been able to go yet. On the other hand, in Asia we have to adapt everything to their language, we sing in Chinese, in Japanese, in Korean… We have to do a triple mortal to adapt to them and in Latin America, where the show would reach them perfectly, it is a shame that they still have not been able to enjoy it live. We have many fans who tell us to go to Ecuador, Chile, Mexico and write to us, but it hasn’t happened yet…

Q.- Thirty years on stage, what is the creation process of each show like?
AG- It is a challenge because every year we present a new show, so you have to give your audience that responds to you every year by filling the Mozart Room of the Auditorium a new product so that they feel linked, attracted and excited to see something new from B Vowel. It is a requirement and that is what we are doing now, in the creation of that new show for the Pilar Festival. It is true that it is not usual because groups and companies put on a show every two or three years, at most.

It is true that it is very demanding because we have two very diversified aspects. On the one hand, the concerts, the pedagogical function and then the events. We always have to build new events and they don’t always go in unison.

CM- This is the fifteenth year that we present a show, mind you. When we have been to some a cappella festivals, the groups ask us how often we put on a show and we tell them every year or every two, it depends.