Many of you, we’re sure, have found yourselves riding through your degrees on a tidal wave of intense rehearsal schedules and tightly packed social calendars that are all part and parcel of university a cappella life. You couldn’t be blamed for imagining that the a cappella dream ends with graduation. But fear not! We’ve realised that it’s important for you to keep your passion for singing live and kicking, and so for this blogging series we’ve lined up some fantastic vocalists to divulge their secrets to a healthy music-filled working life.
Some contributors are professional musicians, while others sing with a cappella groups in addition to their 9-5 jobs. This time, the fantastic Edward Randell tells us about his experiences with The Oxford Gargoyles during his degree, and how they helped him to land a place in the Swingle Singers…
I sometimes wonder what I’d be doing now if I hadn’t bumped into an old friend at my university Freshers’ Fair. Or if she hadn’t persuaded me to audition for the Oxford Gargoyles, or if I’d let my hangover get the better of me on my audition day. Diving into a cappella as a student has genuinely changed my life.
One highlight of my time as a Gargoyle was opening for the Swingle Singers at the Purcell Room. When I saw that there were people who got to do this as a full-time job, I resolved that if I ever had the opportunity to audition for the low bass position in the Swingles, I would grab it. In 2012, that opportunity arose, and I got the job.
Between graduating and joining the Swingles, I sang with numerous ensembles, including a Parisian jazz group called the Voice Messengers and many of my fellow Oxford a cappella alumni. What then seemed like an inability to apply myself to a serious job turned out to be ideal work experience. I now get to travel, perform, write music and help shape the future of a legendary group.
With the Gargoyles, I’d competed in the final of the International Championships of Collegiate A Cappella in New York. In 2007, the “European category” of the ICCAs was really about 8 groups from Oxford, Cambridge and St Andrew’s. It has since been replaced by the Voice Festival UK, a hub for the fast-growing British a cappella phenomenon.
As a judge for the Voice Festival last year, I was truly impressed by the diversity and sophistication of the groups competing. Like the London A Cappella Festival, which we in the Swingles co-curate every January with Ikon Arts Management, VF-UK allows singers of all ages (including that tricky post-university stage) to inspire each other. I look forward to watching it go from strength to strength.