Meet Beth

1. How did you get involved with the Voice Festival?Headshot photo of Beth

Back in 2010, during my second year at university, I became the President of the Oxford Belles. I left the group 18 months later, but never lost my love for everything a cappella, and kept popping up at Voice Festival University Programme regional rounds and finals to hand out programmes, help out front of house, or sell CDs… anything to stay involved! Of course, when a friend on the team told me about the exciting new roles advertised in 2013, I couldn’t wait to apply.

2. What is your role within the team?

I’m the Communications Manager – I work with our Communications Director, Cherith, to suss out the best channels to communicate to all of you what’s new in the exciting, ever changing and rapidly growing community that is the UK a cappella scene!

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

Back when I was in the Belles, I attended a superb Voice Festival workshop led by VF-UK patron Joanna Forbes L’Estrange. It was a long time ago now, but stuck with me ever since. Participants were mixed up into new groups, and each group had a short time to come up with a fresh arrangement of the traditional ballad Scarborough Fair. For me, that’s what the Voice Festival is all about: it’s a forum for collaborating with new people and learning to adopt fearlessness when experimenting with new ideas.

4. Who is your favourite professional group?

I know we’ve heard it all before, but I can’t get enough of Pentatonix. They’re quirky and never fail to bring a smile to my face.

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

Usually I demonstrate my mediocre beatboxing skills – I think this is the only forum where that particular talent wouldn’t be considered very unique! I am something of a medievalist – I can reel off plenty of trivia from the Battle of Hastings to Game of Thrones, and could probably tell you a word or two in Old English…

6. Sum up the Voice Festival in 3 words

Animated, visionary, generous.

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

I’m lucky enough to be doing a PhD in Anglo-Saxon Literature – finally putting those medieval skills to good use!


Meet Michael

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

I sing with In the Smoke, and we entered the Community Competition for the first time in 2012.  Once we saw the buzz that was brewing in the workshops and competitions over the weekend of the final we were immediately eager to become more involved, to lend a hand whatever way we could.  We have hosted the Youth Competition twice now which has been great fun but also a bit intimidating for us oldies to see the standard of the school groups!

2. What is your role within the team?

Education Resource Officer. My role is to create resources for young (or old) fledgling groups to get them started. I call on the fantastic groups already associated with the Voice Festival to help me produce demonstrations, rehearsal guide, tips, tricks, and whatever else people need to start singing together.

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

Selfishly, winning the Ward Swingle Award with a great idea by one of my fellow In the Smoke singers, having rehearsed like crazy for months. Looking forward to my new favourite moment coming from somewhere other than the nervy competition stage.

 4. Who is your favourite professional group?

The Swingles are the first answer on most people’s lips, especially as they are so supportive of the Voice Festival, and Pentatonix are entertaining everyone at the moment – particularly with The Wizard Of Aahs (search it if you haven’t seen it yet!) – BUT I’m excited to see how US group Sonos are evolving their sound as ARORA

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

I have a great knack for coming up with a cappella dance moves that look great in my imagination but terrible in rehearsal, lucky In the Smoke has other people in charge of choreography…

6. Sum up the Voice Fesitval in 3 words

singing, happy people

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

Head of Music at a NW London Secondary School


Meet Catherine

1. How did you become part of Voice Festival?Headshot photo of Catherine

I’ve admired VF-UK from a distance for quite some time while I was very involved in a cappella singing at Exeter Uni. Seeing the #VFbestself campaign for new volunteers I thought it was the perfect opportunity to get involved (I was also getting withdrawal symptoms from not having anything to organise). I’m really excited to shape the Youth programme over the next few years and start getting more young people involved in a cappella in the UK.

2. What is your role within the team?

I’m the Programme Manager – I work to establish partnerships with other organisations, and co-lead on our youth strategy.

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

I’m going to have to say having Simon phone me and ask me to be the Youth Programme Manager!

4. Who is your favourite professional group?

I think I’d go for Voces8 but if you asked me again in 2 days’ time I think I’d pick the Swingle Singers and then 2 days later Straight No Chaser…

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

When I am not working/singing/organising I absolutely love baking with my speciality being brownies. I also support Leeds United…

6. Sum up the Voice Festival in 3 words

Inclusive, fun and inspirational

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

I’m a civil servant and will spend the next few years working in a whole selection of different government departments.


Meet Zoe

Meet the Voice Festival team, Zoe 1. How did you become part of the Voice Festival?

Having been a huge a cappella fan for many years, when I saw a request for volunteers on the Voice Festival facebook page I decided to reply and see where it would lead! it’s been great fun so far and I’m looking forward to what promises to be an exciting year ahead.

2. What’s your role in the team?

My initial role, when I joined the Voice Festival team, was helping with the School Start-Up scheme. I also event managed the St Andrews regional round of the University Competition and helped with other events. Now I am University Programme Manager, and project lead the Festival Weekend.

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

Being part of the Big Weekend and seeing so many groups come together to perform and take part in workshops.

4. Who’s your favourite professional group?

Pentatonix.

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

I’m attempting to learn to play the Ukulele.

6. Describe the Voice Festival in 3 words?

Inspiring future generations

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

I’m a primary school teacher. I also help with a children’s choir and occasionally run marathons.


Meet Carys

Carys1. How did you become part of the Voice Festival?

I was a member and Musical Director of the Oxford Belles and so had been to a few regionals of the University Competition. Having previously known or having got to know members of the team, I was asked if I’d be interested in getting involved. Of course I said yes, as the events have always been highlights to the year, and I am anxious to keep a cappella a key part of my life!

2. What is your role within the team?

I oversee the day-to-day administrative running of the organisation, coordinate the team and overview the events season

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

Lasagna cooked by Simon at my first team meeting! In the past, though, the after-party at last year’s Oxford regional round at Thirst was a wonderful experience – so many a cappella groups (including some in doctors’ scrubs) in the ‘beer garden’ area of Thirst, which became a magical outdoor a cappella dancefloor – wonderful!

4. Who is your favourite professional group?

Very tricky – but probably The Boxettes, with their incredible vocals coupled with killer beatboxing and stage presence. My other favourite group is Fork, although they use samples and loops to alter their voices and create some incredible sounds, but again their stage presence is mind-blowing, and they do some wonderful versions of some songs that I love, particularly their version of Roxette’s ‘The Look’, with proper audience participation!

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

Despite mainly being musically-focused in life, I’m also a qualified manicurist, ex-county chess champion, and went to circus school as a child!

6. Sum up the Voice Festival in 3 words

Friendly, challenging, inspiring

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

I work as a music administrator at a secondary school, as well as administrator for a borough youth orchestra. On the side, I also work in bars and as a writer for various websites!

 

 

Contact Carys: carys@thevoicefestival.co.uk 


Meet Scott

Scott1. How did you get involved with VFUK?

I sang with Out Of The Blue back in the day (07-09) and wanted to keep myself involved in the UK a cappella scene. Having enjoyed the Voice Festival so much in it’s first year I came aboard to help with the Oxford round the year after and haven’t looked back 🙂

2. What is your role within the team?

Co-Producer, Event Manager for Oxford (and unofficially, the emergency MC!)

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

Meeting my current girlfriend at the final of the Voice Festival competition 4 years ago.

4. Who is your favourite professional group?

The Swingle Singers by far although FORK are an incredibly innovative and talented group.

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

I still haven’t lost the urge to perform and can regularly be found beatboxing in pubs around Oxford and London as “The OxBox”

6. Sum up VFUK in 3 words

bringing voices together

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

Currently working as an R&D test engineer for Cisco Systems in their video-conferencing department, indulging my inner geek by trying to hack into lots of very expensive equipment on a daily basis. I’m still working on a way to bring a cappella and video conferencing together.

 


Meet Ally

Ally1. How did you become part of the Voice Festival?

I got involved with a cappella music after a very drunken freshers week where I told a random other fresher (who turned out to be Mark Nathan) that I could sing (I was a chorister for many years). We then exchanged numbers and a few days later I received a text asking if I would sing with a newly formed group. Who knew that after a few weeks, eight random students would form The University of Birmingham’s flagship group, Augmented Seven. The Voice Festival was our first proper outing as a group and inspired us to propel ourselves forward. In September 2010 we went on to form a whole society dedicated to a cappella music and formed 3 new groups. I was part of the society’s committee for the first two years and helped to bring a regional round of VF-UK to Birmingham. I had formed great friendships with the Voice Festival Team and when Augmented Seven parted ways at the end of 2011, I was keen to still be involved with a cappella music. I joined the team that Christmas and haven’t looked back since.

2. What’s your role in the team?

Due to my studies I still have a very light workload compared to the others. I have assisted with Regional festival rounds as well as providing support at the Final 2012 (I provided the mandatory croissants). I look forward to doing much more in the future as The Voice Festival continues to flourish!

3. What’s been your favourite Voice Festival moment so far?

Being a member of a group competing, you don’t get to see what happens behind the scenes and so this whole year has been a highlight seeing the dedication and enthusiasm of the team. It was also fantastic to see the schools competition this year. There’s some cracking talent out there!

4. Who’s your favourite professional group and why?

There are some incredible groups out there so this is very tough. I have recently been obsessed with the Pentatonix. They’re very quirky and fresh and I’m always waiting for their latest youtube post!

5. Have you any secret talent/fact worth sharing?

Hmmmmmmm… Where do I start?!? I once had to play ‘a broken lightbulb’ in a nativity play in primary school. To be honest. I think that’s propelled my musical career to where it is now!

6. Describe the Voice Festival in 3 words

Dynamic, unique, FUN!

 


Meet Alexandra

Alexandra1. How did you become part of the Voice Festival?

My love of a cappella singing started back in 2004 when I was studying at Oxford and was inspired by all the fantastic groups there to start my own all-female group ‘In the Pink’. I enjoyed a brilliant two years with the girls, and after university went on to sing with ‘In the Smoke’, a mixed group comprising former a cappella singers from various different universities. In both groups I felt incredibly lucky to have made so many great friends, sung in extraordinary places and learnt so much from the other singers, both student and professional, that I’d met along the way. It was because of this that I decided to start’The Voice Festival UK’ with Simon- to create more opportunities for singers to learn, perform, share ideas and have fun together, in their own communities and further afield. And so, VF-UK was born!

2. What’s your role in the team?

I’m the Creative Director, which means working with Simon, the Finance and Business Director, to manage and oversee the charity’s year-round programme of activity. I also co-ordinate the Voice Festival UK’s Youth and Community programmes, working closely with the University and Alumni Programme Co-ordinators to make sure we provide fantastic a cappella opportunities for singers of all ages and backgrounds.

3. What’s been your favourite Voice Festival moment so far?

I think my favourite moments are always the impromptu jam sessions. Whether it’s school groups showing one another what they can do in a break in a workshop, university groups spontaneously entertaining the crowds at competitions whilst the judges deliberate, the massed ‘sing-along’ at the after-show party or a beatbox battle at the end of the night – those moments of coming together to have fun singing and making music are what it’s all about!

4. Who’s your favourite professional group and why?

I can’t pick one! There are too many fantastic groups out there and they’re all so different… Sorry 😉

5. Have you any secret talent/fact you can share?

I’m the Britney Spears karaoke queen… does that count? In fact, should I have shared that?

6. Describe the Voice Festival in 3 words?

Can’t stop singing!

 


Meet Simon

Simon1. How did you become part of the Voice Festival?

After leaving my university a cappella days (I was in Oxford University’s Out of the Blue from 2004-2006), I had been bitten by the a cappella bug and didn’t want to give it up! I decided, with Alex to start up an organisation to help develop the a cappella network, initially at universities (as that is where we had both sung previously). Thus was born The Voice Festival UK and I’ve really enjoyed leading it with Alex ever since and seeing us grow into the charity we are today.

2. What’s your role in the team?

Officially, as the Business and Finance Director, I oversee our finances including funding and spending to ensure we operate as sustainably as possible with a long term view. As well as this, I support our team in running our network of events, with a particular focus on the logistics of our events and our box office / ticketing systems. Given that there aren’t too many of us yet, I inevitably get involved in lots of areas and help out whenever necessary – at least this keeps it varied and fun!

3. What’s been your favourite Voice Festival moment so far?

There have been so many great moments, but if I had to single one out then for me personally it would probably be reflecting on our most recent season at our staff meeting in April! As dull as this sounds, it was only here, once we were out the other end of our hectic period and looking back, that I was able to reflect on what we had achieved and how we have grown in our 4 year history! From whatever angle we looked at it, there were reasons to be proud – number of events, number of participants, number of audience members, feedback, diversity of experiences etc, and this really helped to remind me why we spend so much of our spare time running this great charity!

4. Who’s your favourite professional group and why?

Wow, that’s a hard question with so many great groups out there! I love the ‘Real Group’ and of course the ‘Swingle Singers’ and listen to them lots, but I think I would have to name ‘The Magnets’ as my favourite, purely because they were the first pro group I came across in my singing days and inspired so much of my early a cappella life as a result – particularly when I saw them live at Edinburgh for the first time. Having said that, one of the great things about the Voice Festival for me is that it has helped me discover lots of groups I didn’t know about before, and as a result my ‘favourite group of the moment’ probably changes every few months!

5. Have you any secret talent/fact worth sharing?

I could share it, but I’d have to kill you! No, seriously, do I have any secret talents or facts? Well another hobby of mine is SCUBA diving – in fact I am a qualified instructor – I suppose most people don’t know that. Normally when I’m asked this question elsewhere I say I can sing or beatbox but I suppose that’s not really secret or surprising given the circumstances here!

6. Describe the Voice Festival in three words!

Fun, Inclusive, Supportive

 


Meet Cherith

Cherith1. How did you become part of the Voice Festival?

While studying at  St Andrews I thrived on a stable diet of a cappella.  I was Musical Director of the all female group the Accidentals and loved nothing more than impromptu gigs, crafting dance moves, and performing at balls and gigs.  In final year I was involved with bringing the Voice Festival to Scotland for the first time….little did i realise that would be the start of my Voice Festival journey.  Post-graduation I bumped into Alex and Tyler (former VF-UK team member) at the London A Cappella Festival and they asked if I would like to organise the Cambridge round of the Voice Festival.  That was 5 years ago…

2. What’s your role in the team?

As Communications Director I work with the team to make sure we are communicating who we are, and what we do. In the past, I’ve been heavily involved as an Event Manager, working with the team to bring workshops and festival events across the country – this involved sourcing venues, planning schedules, looking after judges, and making sure that everyone had a good time.   I love working with different vocal groups and singers and providing them with an opportunity to grow their confidence and skills, perform to large audiences, and generally have fun singing a cappella.  

3. Whats been your favourite Voice Festival moment so far?

That’s a tricky one.  I’m astonished by the the year-on-year improvement that our singers display.  Everytime I think we have reached the pinnacle of what a group can do, they pull something extraordinary out of the bag and I’m blown away.  That brings loads of favourite moments.

4. Who’s your favourite professional group and why?

Seeing as my flatmate is one of them, I think i’m going to have to say the Swingle Singers!  I sometimes hear them practice and can confirm that yes,  they really are that good all of the time! Although the Voice Festival team does a good 6 part harmony….

5. Have you any secret talent/fact you can share?

While living in Spain I tried my hand at bull fighting!

6. Describe the Voice Festival in 3 words?

Jaw dropping performances

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

I work in advertising for a financial organization in London. It’s definitely a challenging world to work in, but I enjoy it.