Meet Andy

Andy

Andy

1. How did you get involved with VFUK?

Last year I was kind of a ‘Birmingham Consultant’- I showed a member of the team around Birmingham Conservatoire before the venue had been decided for the finals in 2015. When it was announced I just helped out in whatever way I could. I also got to MC the semi-finals this year (which was an experience!) along with helping out at the Edinburgh Showcase this Summer gone. When I heard there were openings in the team I thought it would be great to get involved in VFUK in a more official way – so here I am!

2. What is your role within the team?

Fringe Festival Officer. I’m going to be working with other members of the team to organise events (such as showcases, workshops and other events) and try to support and promote UK a cappella up in Edinburgh.

3. What has been you favourite VFUK moment so far?

Probably the atmosphere at the showcase up in Edinburgh. As shown by their self arranged football tournament- every group is just up there to have a good time. It was great to be up there, and I can’t wait to start the planning for next year!

4. Who is your favourite professional group?

I was lucky enough to shadow the Swingle Singers at the LACF 2015 for an academic project I was doing, and I still find their ability to sing in such a dynamic range of styles to be pretty captivating. There are some amazing groups out there (Pentatonix, The Real Group… and I’m a big fan of Voiceplay) but the Swingles just tip it for me.

5. Have you got any secret talent/fact to share with everyone?

I unintentionally found myself doing stand-up at the fringe festival this year… and sadly that isn’t a joke.

6. Sum up VFUK in 3 words

Inclusive, Growing and Bonkers

7. What do you do outside of the a cappella world?

I’m a final year vocal and operatic student at Birmingham Conservatoire. I also run vocal and outreach workshops at local schools, societies and events.


Meet Houmaa

1.    How did you get involved with VFUK?

Having fallen in love with a cappella in the summer of 2014 (those should be song lyrics), I discovered The Voice Festival on YouTube not long after. In a twist of fate, I then discovered the 2015 Festival Weekend would be held in Birmingham (where I live) for the first time. After a mind-blowing volunteering stint at the Weekend, my heart and sights were set on becoming an official teammember. And here I am!

2. What is your role within the team?

I am University Programme Officer which means I help Zoe with anything to do with the Voice Festival’s University programme. I am also focusing to targeting Youth and University programme alumni to encourage them to continue with a cappella in the next stages of their lives.

3. What has been your favourite VFUK moment so far?

Everything about volunteering at the 2015 and 2016 festival weekenda! Meeting the VFUK team for the first time, talking to various competing groups, attending workshops, meeting my idols, taking away inspiration for my own a cappella group, watching some breath-taking performances from the front row etc.

4. Who is your favourite professional group?

It’s cruelty to make me pick just one group! But The Sons of Pitches have inspired me in so many ways, so I have to say them.

5. Have you got any secret talent/fact to share with everyone?

I can only stay with the a cappella theme (because I have approximately 0 other talents and because who doesn’t love a bit of shameless self-promotion?) and say that I founded an a cappella group called AbraCappella within weeks of arriving at university.

6. Sum up VFUK in 3 words.
 
Dreams. Come. True.

7. What do you do outside of the a cappella world?

I’m going into my third year of studying Psychology at the University of Birmingham. I also work as Head of Physical Sales and Merchandise at the university’s record label, New Street Records, which is pretty cool.


Meet Jes

Jes Sadler is an educator, singer and vocal percussionist from London, UK. He’s also one of our wonderful Patrons.

Jes spent nine years touring with a cappella group The Swingle Singers as Baritone and Vocal Percussionist, giving concerts in many of the world’s top venues, recording seven albums and serving as the group’s Technical Director.

Jes left Swingles in 2006 and became a founder member of ‘Beatbox Choir’ The Vocal Orchestra – a collective comprising some of the UK’s outstanding human beatboxers and vocalists. Founded by the beatboxer Shlomo, the ensemble’s debut performance was headlining the International Human Beatbox Convention at London’s South Bank Centre in 2007. Over the following years they played to thousands at The Big Chill and Glastonbury festivals, the South Bank Centre’s Chorus vocal festival and The Udderbelly and collaborated with artists as diverse as Jarvis Cocker, Ashley Walters, Mutya Buena, Cleveland Watkiss and Imogen Heap. 2010 saw Shlomo & The Vocal Orchestra take things to another level with the premiere performances of human beatbox musical ‘BOXED’ and the groundbreaking Concerto for Beatboxer and Orchestra by composer Anna Meredith.

An accomplished educator, Jes was Lead Tutor with Battersea Arts Centre’s pioneering project the BAC Beatbox Academy. This project continues to find and work with young people in South London by introducing them to beatboxing, enhancing their skills and developing their musicianship and collaborative abilities. Jes was also involved with the SPARK and Sing Up! UK education programmes, encouraging primary-aged children to find and experiment with their voices with his courses “My Voice – My Instrument” and “If You Can Speak, You Can Beatbox!”.
Since 2008, Jes has regularly led workshops for and judged the Voice Festival UK collegiate a cappella championships. He became a patron of Voice Festival UK in 2011.

Jes moved with his wife to Verona, Italy in 2012 and now works full-time teaching English to a wide range of learners using the Speak Your Mind method at the school’s headquarters in the centre of the city, as well as continuing to pursue various musical and spoken-word projects.

He is much in demand as a session vocalist for film, commercials and recordings and – being an ensemble specialist – Jes has performed with a number of other groups, the most recent and notable being a four-year stint in elite a cappella band The Magnets.

 

You can follow Jes on Twitter @thejesmeister

 

Why do you support the Voice Festival UK?

There is no better-organised, more enthusiastic, more professional, or more collegiate vocal competition in the world today as the annual Voice Festival Championships.  The love for vocal music is perfectly expressed through the dedication of the organisers and participants, the joy of the crowd, and the expansion of VF-UK into a beautiful support network for all those in the UK who love this thing called singing.

 


Meet James

james1. How did you get involved with VF-UK?

I’ve been a member of In the Smoke since 2007, back when the lovely Alex was still singing with us, so I’ve competed twice, showcased once and ushered countless times. This seemed a great time to get involved.

2. What is your role within the team?

I’m the Community Programme Manager, working to deliver and improve services to our community groups and contribute to overall planning across all of our programmes.

3. What has been you favourite VF-UK moment so far?

Running round and round Simon’s garden with Beth, trying to relax and make our presenting debut for the season launch video come across less nervy and more enthusiastic.

4. Who is your favourite professional group?

I’ve had a super-soft spot for the Swingles since I was introduced to an album of theirs in my first year at uni, and I’m really enjoying their direction these days… I missed the SLIXS gig at LACF last year, but on instruction from friends have caught up on YouTube and they’re fantastic. Australian female foursome Ginger & Tonic do a hilarious parody of Halo, US Girl’s Quartet do a brilliant Something Tells Me I’m Into Something Good, and I can listen to Pentatonix‘s Little Drummer Boy every day of the week.

5. Have you got any secret talent/fact to share with everyone?

My ‘secret talent’ when anybody else asks is a cappella, which I expect isn’t much of a surprise to this readership. Er, I make a mean risotto.

6. Sum up VF-UK in 3 words.

Get stuck in.

7. What do you do outside of the a cappella world?

I work for the cultural partnerships department at King’s College London, where we connect the College’s academics and students with the cultural sector with the intention that everybody wins.


Meet Amy

Amy1. How did you get involved with VFUK?

I had been heavily involved with my a cappella group Absolute Harmony at university as treasurer and musical director over my four years at Royal Holloway, University of London. I was about to leave the a cappella world as I moved away from university and was searching for ways to continue my love of a cappella when I saw that The Voice Festival was recruiting. After competing in the university competition 2010 and coming to the Festival Weekend, this was the perfect opportunity for me to continue my involvement with this fabulous genre.

2. What is your role within the team?

I am the Youth Programme Manager. I organise our events and opportunities aimed at participants under the age of 18.

3. What has been you favourite VFUK moment so far?

I think it would have to be Festival Weekend. It was a wonderful opportunity that brought so many a cappella groups together in one place. I was privileged to be part of such a wonderful event and proves that you don’t have to be part of group to come and join in. I came on my own on the first day and managed to bring a friend the second.

4. Who is your favourite professional group?

Ooo, that’s tough. ViveSwingleSingersTheKingsSingersVoces8 …does that count as one?

5. Have you got any secret talent/fact to share with everyone?

I play the sitar-an Indian string instrument.

6. Sum up VF-UK in 3 words

Inspiring, inclusive, FUN!

7. What do you do outside of the a cappella world?

At the moment I’m finishing my masters degree in ethnomusicology but I’m soon to start teacher training as a secondary school music teacher.


Meet Jess

Jess

1. How did you become part of the Voice Festival?

I attended the Festival Weekend in 2014 after finding out about VF-UK through one of my daily scavenger hunts on YouTube for acapella. I absolutely loved it! I’m sadly not a part of an acapella group myself, but wanted to get involved in the acapella scene in any way I could. When I saw the call for new team members, I jumped at the chance!

2. What is your role within the team?

As communications and media assistant, I am working with Beth and Cherith to help spread who we are and what it is we do and support in the best, most effective and exciting ways possible.

3. What has been you favourite VF-UK moment so far?

Attending the final of the Festival Weekend on my own. It was a big deal for me as I had only recently moved from my hometown of Bradford to the big city of London, and don’t normally attend things solo. I’m glad I did because I had such a great time seeing so many incredible groups. And of course, being asked to join the VFUK team is most definitely a highlight!

4. Who is your favourite professional group?

I saw them live eight times in two countries over the course of seven months and even ended up on stage being serenaded by them, so I’m gonna have to say Pentatonix!

5. Have you got any secret talent/fact to share with everyone?

I can sport stack (also known as cup stacking). The aim is to stack ten or twelve plastic cups in varying formations as quick as possible. I performed it at my school talent competition once, and I was completely petrified; thankfully I didn’t knock any over! I promise it’s more exciting than it looks when written down…

6. Sum up VF-UK in three words

Passion, togetherness, creativity

7. What do you do outside of the a cappella world?

I am about to enter into my second year of university studying Creative Writing and Media & Cultural Studies at Kingston University in London.

 


Meet Dominic

“Dominic’s sessions were brilliant. For my group, as non-trained singers, we’ve never had access to the kind of professional advice that Dominic brings.”  2013 Birmingham University programme participant

 “…Dominic Peckham is a man on a mission to get more people singing…” Jonathan Wikely, Music Teacher Magasine

 

Dominic Peckham is regarded as one of the UK’s finest young, dynamic orchestral and choral conductors. Hailed as ‘one of the most exciting conductors of his generation’, Peckham has been commended at home and abroad for his ‘freshness and vitality’ directing both orchestras and choirs whilst delivering ‘gutsy, raw and exciting performances’.

A conductor of immense energy and focus, Peckham is renowned for his dedication to the Renaissance and Baroque era, whilst also passionate about the delivery of new works and inspirational collaborations.

In addition to his new appointment of The London Oriana Choir, Peckham holds an impressive array of posts including Artistic Director of The Royal Opera House’s ‘RM19’ Youth Chorus, Assistant Music Director of The National Youth Choirs of Great Britain, Artistic Director and Founder of iSingUK, Artistic Director of The Fourth Choir, Director of The Ulster Youth Training Choir and Guest Conductor for Aldeburgh Music. 

An ambassador for choral music of international renown through both performance and his extensive pioneering educational work, Peckham has served as Vocal Director for the BBC Choir of the Year, as a consultant of Trinity Trinity Guildhall’s teaching programme and as a guest speaker for ‘Sing Up’

Recent engagements include a live broadcast with The National Youth Choirs of Great Britain Chamber Choir for BBC Radio 3’s ‘The Choir’ from Sage Gateshead, The 2013 Brighton Early Music Festival and a special broadcast for BBC World Service focusing vocal harmonies across the world.

He has worked with orchestras including BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, British Federation of Youth Orchestras, Scottish Opera and has marked his debut at many prestigious venues across the UK including the Royal Albert Hall, the Barbican, Birmingham Symphony Hall, and Usher Hall. 

 

@DominicPeckham

www.dominicpeckham.com

 


Meet Joanna

“a stunningly flexible voice and flawless musicianship” Will Todd, composer of Mass in Blue

“utterly musical at every turn. Joanna’s voice is stunning” Howard Goodall CBE about her album New things to say

“an inspirational coach who radiates warmth and enthusiasm” a workshop participant

 

Joanna Forbes L’Estrange is one of London’s most sought after singers for studio and stage, regularly recording soundtracks for film, TV and video games and making concert appearances all over the world. A Music graduate of Oxford University and former Soprano/Musical Director of The Swingle Singers, she has a reputation for outstanding musicianship and versatility, working with the world’s leading vocal ensembles and orchestras, the UK’s top jazz musicians and with high-profile pop and crossover artists including Take That, Sir Paul McCartney, Jarvis Cocker, Bryn Terfel and Katherine Jenkins. Her concert repertoire includes avant-garde masterpieces of the 20th Century by composers Steve Reich, Berio, John Adams and Stockhausen. She has sung in contemporary operas at La Scala, Milan, and at Le Chatelet in Paris, and for the Royal Ballet’s production of Joby Talbot’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland at Covent Garden. Joanna performs in the Symphonic Rock concerts with the RPO and is a popular choice of soloist for Mass in Blue, the virtuoso jazz mass by Will Todd. Her discography includes around eighty film soundtracks, over forty classical choral CDs (many with world-class chamber choir Tenebrae), eight contemporary a cappella albums, and two solo jazz albums with her band L’Estranges in the Night. New things to say was launched to a sold-out audience at Soho’s famous Pizza Express Jazz Club.

Joanna is passionate about a cappella and she coaches groups and presents workshops throughout the UK, in particular with her ever-popular You can sing…but can you swing?! She conducts for the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain and two CDs of large-scale choral works by husband Alexander L’Estrange (Zimbe! Come sing the songs of Africa! and Ahoy! Sing for the Mary Rose). Joanna is an adjudicator and presenter for Eton Choral Courses, Choir of the Year and Voice Festival UK, of which she is proud to be a patron.

 

You can follow Joanna on Twitter @JoannaLEstrange

 

Why do you support the Voice Festival UK?:

I support VF-UK because there is such a wealth of young a cappella talent in Britain and yet, until VF-UK, no proper forum in which singers could come together and share the love! I feel so privileged to be able to pass on what I learnt during my years as MD for The Swingle Singers to these talented groups.


Did you see us on the One Show?

There are many ways that you can get involved with a cappella through The Voice Festival. See below for the options that best suit you.

Whatever you do, make sure you have fun, and share it with the Voice Festival Community online!
 

 

LISTEN TO A CAPPELLA

Check out our YouTube channel to see performances from amazing a cappella groups from around the UK.

Buy The Voice Collection 2013 – a compilation album featuring some of the UK’s best professional and amateur vocal groups. A great introduction to a cappella singing! This is available for download on iTunes by searching the store for “The Voice Collection 2013”

 

SEE A CAPPELLA LIVE

Come and see some of the UK’s finest up-and-coming vocal talent at the Voice Festival UK Youth Competition at Wellington College, near Reading which is taking place on Saturday 27th April at 2.30pm. Tickets and more info here.

The Voice Festival UK website and facebook pages list upcoming performances by UK a cappella groups – see “Your Events” on our homepage for details.

 

SING A CAPPELLA

Come and sing with us! On 27th April the Voice Festival will be running an introduction to a cappella singing in an hour, 1-2pm at Wellington College, near Reading. This session will be led by Dominic Peckham, as seen on ‘The One Show’! Whether you’re an experienced choral singer who wants to try something a bit different, or have only ever sung in the shower, come and join this fun, interactive session. Tickets and more details here.

Of course, there are already lots of fantastic vocal groups out there who need new members. Could it be you? Have a look at the directories created by our friends at Sing A Cappella (for over 18s) and the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain (for under 18s) and see if you can find the group that’s right for you.

 

START A GROUP

Start a group! You don’t necessarily need to be able to read or write music to start a group. Start from scratch with a few friends, a bit of vocal talent and a lot of enthusiasm! We can even send a Voice Festival UK vocal practitioner to help get you started. E-mail us at voice@thevoicefestival.co.uk for support in getting a group off the ground. 

 

ALREADY IN AN A CAPPELLA GROUP? 

We want to hear from you! E-mail us so that we can send you the latest opportunities to compete, perform, learn and socalise with other singers. voice@thevoicefestival.co.uk

Get creative with your musical arrangements! Enjoy an online video mini-masterclass from a Voice Festival workshop given by our Patron, Joanna Forbes L’Estrange


Meet Nadia

1. How did you get involved with the Voice Festival UK?headshot photo of Nadia

I got involved with The Voice Festival when I entered the University Competition with Voice Versa in 2012. 

2. What is your role within the team?

I am undertaking the newly created position of Festival Administrator which means I get to dip into all aspects of the Voice Festival. 

3. What has been you favourite Voice Festival moment so far?

Favourite moment is probably the first time I got involved into the a cappella scene in my second year at university. I was amazed at how great music can sound by using voices only!

4. Who is your favourite professional group?

Pentatonix and Boyz II Men

5. Have you got any secret talent/fact to share with everyone?

It’s not really a secret talent but I can speak Chinese and have lived in Shanghai for a year

6. Sum up the Voice Festival in 3 words

Inspiring diverse music

7. What do you do outside of the a cappella world?

I am currently a final year student at the University of Birmingham studying International Business with Chinese. I also tutor Maths and work at a letting agency..busy busy busy