Merry Christmas Everyone! A Run Down of Our Favourite Festive A Cappella

As much as we love a good Christmas tune, there’s only so much Wham! we can take… so it’s always really exciting when a cappella groups embrace the festive spirit and put a new and unique spin on a well-known seasonal song.

This year especially, groups have been pulling out all the stops to produce brilliant sounding, visually stunning performances of classic songs, so we thought the time was ripe to share with you some of our favourite offerings. Why don’t you hit us up on Facebook or Twitter and tell us some of yours?

Beatvox – God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

I love this catchy and original reinvention of a classic carol and the fact that it features Voice Festival participants and professionals working together – it sums up everything that is great about the UK a cappella scene! – Alex

The Bristol Suspensions – Merry Christmas Everyone (Shakin’ Stevens)

It’s great to see last year’s VF-UK University Champions in their element and having kept their uniquely fun spirit despite the loss of some incredible members. The combination of the arrangement and one of the cutest videos of 2016 means you can’t help but feel warm, fuzzy and festive! – Houmaa

Eclipse 6 – Hamildolph (An American Christmas Story)

If a cappella is my number one love, then musical theatre is my second – Hamilton being my one of favourite shows. Mash up a cappella, Hamilton and Christmas, and I’m a very happy gal! One of the things I love most about a cappella is that it gives you an outlet to defy the norm in a way that other art forms don’t allow. The costumes are amazing here, and everything has been executed with such care and skill that you can’t help but smile! – Jess

Pentatonix – Mary, Did You Know? (Michael English)

I love this song from a group that truly have taken a cappella into the mainstream. This comes from a fantastic Christmas album, and I love this particular track because it is more stripped back than some of their other offerings. I hope this album inspires more groups to start up, and existing groups to try something out of their comfort zone. – Catherine

AfterParty – Last Christmas (Wham!)

I like this cover because the video is well thought-out and has a story to it that keeps you interested. I think it’s great when a group uses video to do something more than they could do with an audio recording and I think this one demonstrates that well! – Simon


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!


Bristol Regional Festival – Meet the Groups!

Another Voice Festival event – a whole new bunch of a cappella groups for you to meet!

Browse our brand new slideshow to read more about the tremendous participating groups in our Bristol Regional Festival: Avon Harmony, The Bristol Suspensions, Semi-Toned and Aquapella. It’s going to be a blast!

It’s not too late to purchase your tickets for the showcase – and the general public are also invited to join the groups for an afternoon workshop with arranger Paul Davies.

BUY YOUR TICKETS HERE.

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Ever wondered how to start up your own a cappella group?

It’s the beginning of the university year. Perhaps you’re a first-year, inspired by Pitch Perfect and keen to try out a cappella, but overwhelmed by the number of groups and auditions on offer. Perhaps there aren’t any a cappella groups at your university at all. Maybe you’re a second- or third-year who’s seen what the other groups can do and reckon you can do it better. Or maybe you have a revolutionary new a cappella idea and want a bunch of unwitting singers to try it out on! If you can relate to any of the above, then we highly recommend you check out our brand new Voice Festival Guide to Starting a University Group.

Between us, we have a fair few years of a cappella experience. We’ve each tried out new ideas that have worked well, and ones that have totally bombed… So now it’s time to impart some of that experience to the rest of the a cappella community. The guide contains tips on where to begin, how to find members, ideas for funding, and a couple of our favourite uni group videos and blogs that we think might help to inspire you!

This is only the first in a number of guides we’ll be putting together to help you along your aca-journey, which will all be downloadable from our Resources Page, new to the Voice Festival site in 2014. Soon, we’ll be giving some hints and tips on how to hold auditions. If you have any suggestions for guides we can create in the future, email voice@thevoicefestival.co.uk and we’ll see what we can do!

 


Be the future of UK a cappella!

P10407532013-14 has been quite some year for the Voice Festival. September 2013 saw a shiny new 10-strong team set out to deliver the biggest and best year yet… and deliver it we did, with the biggest Festival Weekend to date featuring a performance from the Swingle Singers, a brand new video round in the University competition (and the most entries we’ve ever received), a fantastic Community Showcase, and a Youth Competition Final which blew us all away. And that’s not to mention Take the Stage at Kings Place, our recently-introduced webinars, and the forthcoming Edinburgh Festival Showcase (featuring groups across all our programmes). We certainly like to keep ourselves busy!

But it doesn’t end there. We’ve seen what we are capable of, and we’re thinking big for the future. As a result, we’re looking to build our team. We need even more talent, ideas and enthusiasm to help us carry VF-UK through the next year and beyond so that we can continue to deliver an inclusive, educational and exciting programme of events that caters in the best possible way to all our communities and participants.

 

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The Team

The VF-UK team is a dynamic group of dedicated volunteers with a diverse range of day jobs. Some are singers and some are not, but all ten have been brought together by their love of, and belief in, the a cappella art form and its educational and community-building potential. Now, it’s time to spread that love and welcome new volunteers into our fold! (You can meet the team here)

We asked some of our volunteers why it is that they enjoy giving their time and talents to the Voice Festival’s year-round activities. One team member said:I get to work alongside a team of brilliant, dedicated and inspiring volunteers to give as many people as possible the opportunity to get involved with this unique art form. And everybody knows that a cappella singing makes the world a happier place!’ Check out what other team members said here!

 

Have we tickled your a cappella tastebuds? 

If so, we have two options for you…

1) There are three specific roles that we’d like filled – you can browse these below. If any of these take your fancy, then drop us an email telling us why you’re the perfect person for the role. There is no application form, but a CV would help us to establish a good idea of who you are and what you do. 

VF-UK Community Programme Manager

VF-UK Youth Programme Manager

VF-UK Regional Event Manager

 

2) If none of these roles are quite what you’re looking for, but you’d love to join the Voice Festival team – get in touch anyway. We’re open to new ideas and would welcome anyone who has something new to offer, whether you’re a tech-whizz, a musical maestro, a creative genius, a seasoned event manager, or something else besides! See more information below, and email us at voice@thevoicefestival.co.uk letting us know a little bit about yourself, why you want to become part of the team, and how you might like to help.

VF-UK Volunteer

 

Please note, while most of our team discussions happen across email and mobile, we like to get together occasionally for face-to-face meetings. Our next planning meeting is on the Sunday 13th July, and if you are selected to join the team it would be an advantage if you were able to attend (all reasonable travel expenses will be covered).

Make sure you get in touch with us before midnight on Sunday 15th June if you’d like to be considered for one of our roles. We’re looking forward to hearing from you!


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