Perfect Peckham gets Original Singers on the right track!

This is a guest post by Peter Brill, member of Bristol-based community a cappella group, Original Sing.

Dominic P 1If you had paid a significant sum to attend an a cappella masterclass (even if some of it was a very generous Voice Festival prize) and hadn’t sung a note after one hour and 20 minutes, most groups would be asking for their money back.

But this particular workshop was with Dominic Peckham – former Royal Opera House-chorus-member-turned-conductor – whose choral leadership star is now rising rapidly in the a cappella firmament and whose masterclasses are, quite simply, out of this world.

Dominic P 2For Original Sing, Bristol-based 2013 Voice Festival Community Champions, the first hour or so of Dominic’s dedicated masterclass was, in many ways, the most valuable. This isn’t to take anything away from the remaining five hours or so that was spent in the company of an inspiring, perceptive, highly technical, often demanding and frequently funny maestro. Yet the opening session, with its focus on posture and position, led to a transformation in individual and ensemble sound that was to last for the rest of the day and well beyond.

Much of the workshop focused on minute detail, such as pronunciation of vowels, which would ordinarily seem tedious and even irrelevant. But the reality for a group that is trying hard to take an already well-rehearsed, well-honed sound to the next level, is that these tiny details matter. Everyone found enormous inspiration in hearing our 12-voice version of Whitacre’s Water Night dramatically improved simply by ensuring that each word was pronounced in exactly the same way and with an identical mouth shape.

Dominic P 3Throughout the session, Dominic dropped in small hints, tips and ideas – from warm-up routines to leg and foot positions – which turned on individual light-bulbs for everyone in the group. In fact, there was so much to take in that the session had to be videod for future reference. His highly personal and personable approach made it easy to learn and even criticism was delivered in a way that made it seem like a compliment.

It is little wonder that Dominic is in such high demand from some of the best choirs and chorus’ in Europe. His insight can turn ‘good’ into great, aspiration into inspired, and that is worth its weight in gold.


VF-UK at Ed Fringe: Out of the Blue!

P1040937The 2014 University Champions Out of the Blue managed to find some time in their busy schedules to give us a couple of tantalising teasers about the set that they will be performing at the Voice Festival Edinburgh Showcase this August! Read on…

Tell us a bit about your group. Where are you from? When did you start singing together?

Out of the Blue is an all-male group of students from Oxford University and Oxford Brookes. The group was founded in 2000 and has changed and developed every academic year. This year is an unusually fresh group with eleven new faces joining back in October. This year-group has had a particularly successful year, touring California and India and being crowned champions of the Voice Festival University Competition.

Can you give us any hints about what you’ll be singing in the showcase?

We like to keep our set-lists a surprise at all costs! But we can promise a diverse set of comedy numbers, tear-jerkers and crowd-pleasers!

Is this your only appearance at the Fringe, or will you be performing elsewhere?

Out of the Blue will be performing every day of the Fringe at 2pm at Assembly, George Square (except August 13th) 

 

 

 


2013 Community Champions: What it’s meant to us – by Original Sing

Original Sing, Community Champions 2013When we first heard about the Voice Festival UK, I was excited that at last, many more people were getting into a cappella singing and taking it seriously. And that of course would mean new friends, new opportunities, new chances to learn. But most of all, it meant we (my lot, Original Sing) weren’t doing it on our own any more. Nearly all of us were formerly members of the group Naked Voices, which grooved up and down the country gigging everywhere for 10 years up until 2008, including the Edinburgh Fest 3 times, having a ball. But during all this time we were sitting in a bubble talking to only ourselves, because we so rarely encountered any other a cappella singers.
 
When Naked Voices closed down with the retirement of the MD, 2/3 of us were desperate to keep singing. For various reasons we couldn’t keep the old name and had to start a new group. But in so doing, we had to start again from scratch to build up a new reputation. Our self esteem took a *big* hit. Without the name, would anyone come to our shows? Would we be able to actually make it without our old leader, teacher and mentor Dee? Were we *good enough* on our own?
 
We spent a LONG time taking our music apart, piece by piece, going back to absolute basics to work out what we could improve, how and where. I only ended up as MD by dint of being the one who refused to give up or give in no matter what, flying by the seat of my pants the entire way! 
 
So you see, we went from success to collapse, to rebirth but with confidence dented and no way to know if we were on the right track. And that’s why the Voice Festival accolade has meant so much – it is VALIDATION and uplift. Recognition from our peers and from such sh*t hot judges means we that CAN still do it and all the work we’ve put in trying to rebuild ourselves has paid off. The VF Community Championship win has been a massive shot in the arm of adrenaline and confidence. And that is priceless. 
 
The 6 months since then has been a bit slow for various reasons, but we’ve had some fab moments. We brought the house down in London for the Brandenburg Choral Festival in March. And in recent Bristol gigs we’ve been keeping up our sob rate of 10% (that’s the % of the audience who are openly sobbing by the end of the show – for some reason they find what we do rather moving). We’re currently working towards our annual outing at the Bristol based Festival of Song (see www.festivalofsong.org.uk), a massive 120 singing shows in 9 days. A blast if you’re out this way in October.
 
So thank you to everyone at VF-UK for your kind support. We look forward to being part of the Voice Festival for many years to come I hope and to sharing together this gorgeous thing that we all do with new friends up everywhere.  See you all again in the new year.
 
By David Green, Original Sing