Judging Lineups: University Final

We’re really excited to be able to announce our judging lineups. Here’s the judges who will be picking our University Winner. Remember you can get tickets here.

 

Nic Doodson

Nic-Doodson

Nic Doodson has been at the forefront of the global a cappella scene for the past 20 years as a performer, director, competition judge and producer. As a performer he founded The Magnets and took the group from amateur student beginnings to the most successful a cappella group to ever emerge from UK. The Magnets were the first contemporary a cappella group to land a major record deal when they signed with EMI in 2001 and went on to release three ground breaking and award winning records. Notching up over 2000 performances throughout Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Australia, The Magnets set the template for contemporary a cappella performances which is now followed by up and coming vocal bands the world over; in many countries The Magnets were the first a cappella group to break through to the mainstream pop field and have performed to sold out crowds in cities such as Mumbai, Jerusalem, Harare (Zimbabwe), Moscow, Calcutta, Shanghai, Nanjing (China), Sydney, Auckland, New York, Berlin, Vienna, Singapore and many others.

As a producer Nic has created and managed a cappella shows at festivals throughout Europe, Australia, and New Zealand and as one of the most experienced a cappella performers in the world has judged multiple national and international a cappella competitions.

 

Grace Savage

grace-savage

Having established a world-class reputation in the beatboxing scene with THREE British Beatboxing Championship titles under her belt, Grace is set to break into the music industry by harnessing her extraordinary vocal power in a melodic blend of edgy electronic pop. Her Debut EP is a beautifully crafted selection of dreamy, atmospheric pop which perfectly showcases Savage’s ethereal vocals alongside her beatboxing talent. With crashing beats, brooding production and hypnotic synth, the lead track ‘Diamonds on Your Skin’ was crowned the favourite of the show by the panel on BBC INTRODUCING Devon.

Fronting a live band and singing, Grace has shared the main stage at festivals with the likes of Rita Ora and Katy B, supported Labrinth and Newton Faulkner on his solo tour, as well as performing at the Glastonbury Festival and Jamie Oliver’s Big Feastival. Grace’s loop station cover of BANKS ‘Waiting Game’ recently caught the eye of SBTV founder Jamal Edwards, leading to her SBTV debut and a request from the man himself to make a follow up which will feature on the website very soon.

Savage’s extraordinary creativity spans across her singing, acting and beatboxing alike, with Grace recently been listed as one of ELLE UK’s ‘Top 100 inspiring women’ alongside the likes of Angelina Jolie and Oprah Winfrey. Following success at The National Theatre and a solo show at SOHO Theatre, Grace is receiving repeated high praise from the likes of The Guardian, The Telegraph, The independent, Metro, London Evening Standard to name but a few and is now signed to UNITED agents as an actor.

 

Russell Scott

12400625_10153251626012109_4942345283913466121_n

Russell Scott has been in the music industry, professionally, for over 35 years working in the worlds of Classical and Musical Theatre. He is not only a Producer and Musical Director, but an accomplished Singer and Vocal Coach.

As a performer he has performed all over the world, as a soloist and with leading choirs and orchestras. With over 100,000 record sales across his 4 solo albums, he’s also appeared on countless film soundtracks, opera, pop and musical theatre recordings.

His company, Russell Scott Entertainment Limited has developed into a successful and reputable entertainment production company specialising in creating and producing high profile, high-end productions. It has produced a number of hugely successful shows across the UK including ‘An Evening of Don Black’, ‘An Evening of Tim Rice’, ‘The Wonderful World of Ashman, Menken & Schwartz, and ‘From Stage And Screen… And Back Again!’ which raised over £15,000 for charity. He produced the critically acclaimed ‘Godspell In Concert’ at the Lyric Theatre in London’s West End in 2014 which went on to tour the UK in 2015.

Specialising in ‘performance’, he regularly directs masterclasses and workshops, and has worked with choirs and ensembles around the UK including the acclaimed Military Wives Choir. He is Musical Director of Next Stage Choir and Waddesdon Manor Choir.

Russell leads an enormously busy life having achieved great success in the cross-over of genres. Music is his soul and his passion, and he is committed to finding and developing new musical talent, giving opportunity to those with the ability and dedication to succeed at the highest level.

For more information about Russell Scott, please visit www.russellscottentertainment.com. He can be followed on Twitter at @RussellScottUK and presents his own YouTube blog, A Life In Music with Russell Scott, aimed at performers who strive to be the best they can be.


Judging Lineups: Youth Final

We’re really excited to be able to announce our judging lineups. Here’s the judges who will be picking our Youth Winner. Remember you can get tickets here.

 

TobiAS Hug

Tobi

Tobias Hug has been singing, teaching, travelling for almost 20 years – an a cappella journeyman and beatbox gypsy. He is deeply involved in the a cappella and choral music scene around the globe, a connecting and well-connected figure. Based in London, Tobias has performed or collaborated with The Swingle Singers, Bobby McFerrin, World Music stars Zap Mama, the Puppini Sisters, the London Voices, Jazzchor Freiburg and many more. He currently performs with his The Beatbox Collective, with his own Loop Solo Programme and focusses on Master Studies in ‘Rhythmic Choir Conducting’at the Royal Conservatory of Aalborg, Denmark. His new group Beatvox recently won the UK Event Entertainment Award 2014 for Best New Act (‘Beat the Brief’ Competition).

His deep passion and commitment to teaching leads to workshops and residencies in places as diverse as Singapore, Norway, China and Kenya. Italy though has always been an important centre of his work. As session singer and member of London Voices he has performed on numerous movie soundtracks including The Hobbit and Interstellar. As a voice-over artist, Tobias has been featured on several BBC Radio programmes and commercial computer games.

From 2001-2012, Tobias sang with Grammy-Award winning a cappella group The Swingle Singers and was one of their longest-serving members. As their bass and vocal percussionist he was part of seven studio albums, and performed more than 700 concerts in the great concert halls (from Teatro alla Scala to the Kremlin Palace), with the great orchestras (from the Vienna Philharmonic to the Academia di Santa Cecilia) and with great artists (from Zubin Mehta to Jamie Cullum). As their former Artistic Director he set up collaborations and projects, as well as TV appearances. Together with beatboxer Shlomo (featured on Björk’s album “Medúlla”) he founded the world’s first beatbox choir (now the “Vocal Orchestra”). The Swingles’ or Tobias’ arrangements and voices can be heard on TV show “Glee”, on the most recent Monty Python movie as well as adverts (T-Mobile’s “Welcome home” Flashmob campaign, with 14 Million hits on YouTube).

Born in the midst of the Black Forest, in Freiburg, Germany, Tobias studied Music Education and never limited himself to one particular form of music, exploring anything from throat singing to vocal jazz, from Early Music to beatboxing. Beyond the a cappella world, worked or performed with German techno legend Tiefschwarz, experimental music artist Aphex Twin, classical pianist Katia Labeque, the late Les Paul, loop wizard and Imogen Heap-Collaborator Tim Exile…and many more.

Tobias is co-founder of the London A Cappella Festival and EVA, the European Voices Association and most recently of the italian a cappella festival Vocalemente which he is also Artistic Director and Executive Producer. He advises and adjudicates at festivals like VocalAsia (China), Terem Crossover Competition (St.Petersburg/Russia) the UK Beatbox Championships, Solevoci (Italy), The Voice Festival UK and the CARAs (Recording Awards).

 

Ben Sawyer

ben_sawyer

Ben is quickly gaining an enviable reputation as a dynamic conductor and choir trainer, always able to draw the best from his singers. Having left his role of Head of Music at Tewkesbury School in August 2012, he has been in regular demand to lead workshops, start new choirs and conduct existing ones.

He has been Chorus Master for Gloucestershire Music’s Massed Chorus of 500 students which performed at the Royal Albert Hall in the ‘Music For Youth’ in November 2012. This has led to him being a founder conductor of the new Gloucestershire Youth Choir. Ben was also Assistant Conductor for Cheltenham Festival’s production of Benjamin Britten’s community opera, ‘Noye’s Fludde’, and he regularly conducts Tyndale Choral Society, Hanley Voices and Tewkesbury Voices.

Aside from conducting, Ben sings countertenor. He is a member of the international award winning male voice a cappella group, The Songmen. With The Songmen, he has toured America, China, much of Europe and performs regularly in the UK. He is also the group’s composer-in-residence and has had a number of his compositions and arrangements played on national radio. Ben has been a lay clerk at Birmingham and Gloucester Cathedrals and sings with Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum, as well as being in demand as a countertenor soloist.

 

Andrew Panton

Andrew-Panton-2-239x300

Award winning director Andrew Panton has held residencies at The Royal & Derngate Theatres, Perth Theatre, Stage Door (New York) and The Stephen Joseph Theatre, where he directed a premiere season of Sir Alan Ayckbourn’s work.

He is the creative director, vocal & performance coach for Susan Boyle who shot to fame following her appearance on Britain’s Got Talent in 2008 and went on to have the fastest selling UK debut album of all time.

Andrew is the Artistic Director of Musical Theatre at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.


Visual guide to the 2016 Festival Weekend

Not sure what to expect from our Festival Weekend? Trying to decide which of our fabulous participant groups you want to win the youth, university and community competitions? Fancy learning a little more about the workshops on offer?

In classic Voice Festival style, we’ve popped together an interactive guide for all you a cappella fans so you can explore the world of our annual Festival Weekend in a bit more depth.

If that’s not enough for you, at the weekend itself there will be programmes available for purchase that offer biographies, schedules, photographs and more!


What next for the Voice Festival?

Thanks for stopping by thevoicefestival.co.uk.

In 2017 the Voice Festival (VF-UK) will celebrate 10 years.  We’re preparing for this by taking stock  – looking back to where we’ve come from, and what we have achieved, and considering what we should do next.

We’ve created a short survey to understand more about how people experience the Voice Festival. We want to know your thoughts on what our focus should be for the future. So, we ask that you please spare 5 minutes to give us a little about your opinions and experiences of the Voice Festival. Please click here to take part in our survey.

We thank you in advance for your insight.


Michael Humphrey at Take the Stage 2016

This blog post originally appeared on MDHmusic on February 12 2016, and was reprinted with permission.

Michael Humphrey at Take the StageThe Voice Festival UK‘s Youth co-ordinator Amy set up this year’s Take the Stage, where schools could come to King’s Place in London, home of the London A Cappella Festival, to participate in a day of a cappella workshopping, arranging and performing. I had a great time working on some musicianship things and a mass performance with this incredibly able group of students from a mix of state and private schools.

We also had the privilege of hearing (they were impressive, as ever), being critiqued by (they were impressed) and even jamming with The Swingles. When we performed our arrangement of Walk the Earth’s Shut Up and Dance With Me we inserted an improvisation section to be kicked off by The Swingles. We ambitiously decided that it would last for as many bars as felt right in the moment, and wow, it was incredible – layers of sound reacting and interacting, finding a gentle zone then building and building filling the room with harmonious sound.

Michael Humphrey at Take the Stage 2016Thanks to the Voice Festival for organising, to LACF and The Swingles, especially Sara, Clare and Nick who stuck around to hear the schools perform and gave really thorough and practical feedback, and to the students and teachers at Halsted, Marist, Southband Intl and Boroughbridge – keep up the amazing work!

Michael grew up in Northern Ireland learning the bassoon and saxophone from teachers and tutors in the area before broadening out into piano lessons and self-taught guitar and singing. He studied at the University of Oxford where he enjoyed the extra-curricular life of orchestras, choirs, plays and open mics, and directed a cappella group Out of the Blue. After 2 years teacher training in Edinburgh he moved to London where he works as a successful freelance writer, arranger, director, producer, composer and performer.


Meet our 2015 Youth Competition Champions, The Dreamettes

What’s it like to win the VF-UK youth competition? The Dreamettes tell us here in their guest blog. If you’re feeling inspired by the girls’ successes and would like to get involved with the Voice Festival’s youth programme, check out our dedicated page here, or take a peek at our plans for VF-UK’s annual Take the Stage event.

IMG-20150411-WA0007The Dreamettes was formed back when we were in Y7 at Putney High School (now all in Y13). Our music department is unusual in that every single year group is represented by at least one a cappella group, if not two in most cases. Thanks to this strong a cappella tradition in the school, the Dreamettes have flourished, growing in membership and ability year by year, as well as triumphing in school music competitions.

But it was taking part in the Voice Festival UK that pushed us to our limits and made us realise what we could achieve. Suddenly a cappella became so much more than standing in a semicircle to sing a pop arrangement, and our motivation was raised to a new level. Heated discussions about choreography and presentation, which would have been given nowhere near as detailed thought a year ago, became the norm. Musical details such as note lengths, tuning and dynamics were now more vital than they had ever been before. We even dedicated some of the Easter Holidays to rehearsing for the VF-UK finals at group members’ houses (in hope that the neighbours would enjoy our heart-melting rendition of ‘Make you feel my love’)!

Soon the day of the Finals arrived, and Dreamettes set off to Birmingham, all squeezed onto a minibus with the two other a cappella groups from Putney High taking part, not forgetting three of our teachers. Many were still half asleep, but after being perked up by a trip to Costa Express en route, excitement levels began to peak. The whole coach was singing in full voice as we drew nearer towards the city.

We finally reached Birmingham Conservatoire, where the VF-UK organisers and participants were met by a crowd of 30 excited girls, ready to sing it out. The day began with some highly energised workshops on stage presence and beat boxing. With boots and cats flying all over the place, hundreds of participants united to form one unstoppable human drum kit, and let’s not forget that R600 loop machine which made us all turn green with envy.

Before we knew it we were whisked straight off to rehearsals and a sound check in the Adrian Boult Hall. Minutes passed and the nerves began to kick in. We were more excited about singing together than we ever had been before, but as we waited by the stage door it was as if we were shaking as a single body, all feeling both the same adrenalin and fright at performing in front of hundreds of people. Then one of us said ‘Guys, it doesn’t matter whether we win or not. Let’s just go out there and sing’. So that is what we did. We didn’t know whether it was our best or worst performance – all we knew is that we were out there doing what we have always known and loved.

Everything after that was a blur, and suddenly we found ourselves back on stage alongside the five other groups competing in the Youth Finals. With no idea what to expect and tension rising, we waited anxiously as various thank yous and awards were being given. There was an especially big applause from us for Jo Nicholls, the founder of the Dreamettes and the rest of Putney High’s a cappella groups, who received a special award for one of 10 arrangements she contributed towards the VFUK Finals. Emily Hazrati, a budding young composer in the Dreamettes, also won an award for her arrangement of ‘Budapest’ by George Ezra.

‘The winners brought the programme to life and made great use of the performing space’. This was the moment of truth. As soon as we heard the word ‘Dreamettes’ we all screamed at the top of our voices with shock and pure joy. There was lots of hugging, crying and laughing as we organised ourselves into formation for an encore of ‘Some Nights’. I still can’t find the words to describe how amazed and happy we felt at that time.

Photos, interviews, more hugging and crying, yet it still didn’t end there! After a celebratory dinner at Wagamamas, many of us stayed to watch the University Finals. To say that we were completely awe-struck by the groups we saw performing is an understatement – the genius arrangements, professional-level choreography and musicality blew us away and gave us something even higher to aspire to. We’ve all decided to make our University application based on places where there’s a good a cappella culture! Hosting the evening was the Sons of Pitches, and they were awesome. This made us realise that a cappella carries on even after school and University.

Taking part in the VF-UK finals has helped our group come together and given us inspiration for the future. We’d like to thank Voice Festival UK kindly for such an incredible experience, encouraging us to achieve great things as a group and providing a platform for young a cappella groups across the nation.


The Voice Collection II – apply now!

We’re really excited to announce that applications are now open for the follow-up to our first compilation album, The Voice Collection 2013! We’re thrilled to once again be showcasing the quality and breadth of contemporary a cappella art form in the UK in 2015 and beyond in an album that we hope will delight, entertain, and inspire future generations of singers.

Any a cappella group based in the United Kingdom, whether youth, university, community or professional, is welcome to submit up to two pre-mixed tracks for inclusion on our compilation album. The final listing will be selected by our stellar line-up of judges and announced in December.

The Voice Collection II is due for release in January, and will be mastered by a cappella experts Liquid 5th Productions. For general queries, or for assistance with your application, please email voice@thevoicefestival.co.uk and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

HOW TO APPLY

1. Fill in our online Application Form (please read the Declaration carefully, and confirm)
2. Submit your chosen track(s) (max 2) in WAV and MP3 formats. Please upload these to Dropbox, WeTransfer or another file sharing solution of your choice and email voice@thevoicefestival.co.uk with the link to your track.
3. All application forms and tracks in the required format need to be received by Saturday 7th November at midnight. Any applications received after this time unfortunately cannot be considered for judging.
4. If your track is selected, you will be required to sign a release form giving us permission to use the track.

COSTS

There are no application costs involved, but successful groups will be required to purchase 15 CDs each for a total cost of £100, which they can sell on at a suggested price of £10 per CD at their own performances.

We look forward to hearing what you have to offer!


Goodbye Mabel – we wish you well!

We’ve recently said farewell to one of our star volunteers, Mabel, who has been Regional Event Manager for the last year for the Voice Festival. 

Some people don’t need very long to make an impact. Mabel is one of them. Only with us for a short time, Mabel’s supportive and friendly nature certainly made its mark on the team, and we wish her well as she returns to Singapore. 

Mabel joined the team in October 2014 in the midst of moving from her undergraduate life in Newcastle to the world of a Masters student in London.  

She said that, ‘the Voice Festival had provided her with the idea and inspiration to start an a cappella society at Newcastle University (team blush) and so I wanted to get involved with the team and support other groups’.

Thoughtful and thorough from the beginning, Mabel quickly became a treasured member of the team. Regional events involve a lot of logistics and a lot of problem solving, as well as much fun along the way. Mabel got stuck in from the start. With her supreme organisational skills she made it possible to bring the Voice Festival to Glasgow for the first time. She was always on hand at the Festival weekend, and willing to do whatever it would take so our singers could have a great time. 

Mabel – we thank you so much for giving us your time, organisation skills, and for being an all round star. For any groups planning a tour to Asia, Mabel has already offered up her help (so drop us an email if you’d like us to put you in touch!).  

The Voice Festival team is excited to see what happens to a cappella in Singapore now that Mabel has arrived and hope she will come back to see us again soon! 

If you would like to volunteer for our team and support the growing UK a cappella scene, contact us now at voice@thevoicefestival.co.uk. We would love to chat with you, hear your ideas, and welcome you to the team.


A message from Gareth Malone for the Voice Festival UK community

We are thrilled to share this message from Gareth Malone for supporters of the Voice Festival.

Many familiar faces from the Voice Festival UK, past and present, will be flying the flag for British a cappella on the BBC’s new TV show, The Naked Choir, hosted by Gareth Malone. The show starts tonight, 9pm, on BBC2.

Watch out for Choral Stimulation, who were awarded the Voice Festival’s Ward Swingle Award for Originality at this year’s University Championships, and the Sons of Pitches, who first took to the stage with the Voice Festival back in 2011. A number of our talented workshop leaders and competition judges have some very special roles in the show too. We’ll leave you to tune in and find out who.

Watch closely and you will also see some clips from our recent Festival Weekend, and a cappella showcase at the Edinburgh Fringe.

We hope you enjoy the singing!


WE’RE RECRUITING! Help us take UK a cappella to the next level…

Tobias beatboxing workshop 2We love welcoming new volunteers to the Voice Festival team. Having a dynamic, enthusiastic and dedicated team is critical to keeping our annual programme relevant and exciting year on year for the rapidly growing a cappella community in the UK.

That’s why we’re thrilled to announce that this Autumn we are recruiting for two new team members who can bring some new ideas to the table, help to lead a range of inclusive, educational and fun singing education programmes, and get on board with some of the exciting new projects we have in the pipeline for 2015-16.

There are two specific roles that we would like to fill. Read more about these roles – and learn a little more about the Voice Festival and the programmes we run – by downloading PDF files at the links below:

Community Programme Manager

University Programme Officer

If either of these take your fancy, then drop us an email at voice@thevoicefestival.co.uk telling us why you think you’re the perfect person for the role. These are voluntary, part-time, work-from-home positions and there’s no application form, but a CV would be useful in helping us to figure out who you are and what you do. You can also send any informal enquiries to the same address.

If you think you have something to offer that doesn’t quite fit into either of the roles listed above, do get in touch with us anyway. We’d love to welcome anyone into our fold who has the desire to inject passion, energy and innovative ideas into VF-UK’s programme.

Interested? Make sure you get in touch with us before midnight on Monday 31st August if you’d like to be considered for this opportunity. We’re looking forward to hearing from you!