Earlybird tickets released for our Festival Weekend

For the second year in a row, our annual Festival Weekend will be taking place at the beautiful Hammond Theatre at Hampton School, West London, on the 21st and 22nd April 2017.

The Festival Weekend is undoubtedly the highlight of The Voice Festival’s calendar. The weekend, which includes our annual championships, brings together hundreds of participants and audience members in a celebration of singing and creativity. While it’s too late to apply to compete this year, members of the public can still get involved in other ways. Read on to find out how!
 

1) Cheer on your favourite group as it competes to become VF-UK champion

We have three separate competition categories – Youth, University, and Community. You can purchase tickets to each individual final – get yours here, from £12 (get 25% off before 7 April).
 

2) Rub shoulders with fellow singers and attend our series of workshops and forums across the weekend

Throughout the weekend, internationally renowned a cappella professionals will lead a series of workshops on improvisation, beatboxing, vocal health, dancing, recording, and more. These workshops are open for everyone to attend – purchase your Weekend Pass to join us in the workshops, and gain access to all the competition finals too, from £39 (get 25% off before 7 April).
 

3) Join the conversation on social media

Can’t be there on the weekend? We’ll be sad to miss you, but we’ll be sharing all the best bits of the weekend on our Twitter and Facebook accounts, as well as live-streaming the results announcements on Facebook Live, so you don’t get that FOMO feeling. Got something to say? Use the hashtag #VFUK2017.
 
We’re looking forward to welcoming you to West London in just 6 weeks!


Meet University Champions 2016 – The Bristol Suspensions

The Bristol Suspensions are still lost for words after an unforgettable weekend at VF-UK. So, they thought they’d let one of their more talkative (shall we say?) members, Stanford, share his experience of the competition in the way that only he can. We hope you enjoy…

Heading into the Voice Festival Weekend was a manic blur. With Suspensions jetting in from across the globe, our perennial organisational monarch Rafaella Barratt had a mammoth task in ensuring our collective arrival at Hampton School, but we made it and (lack of sleep notwithstanding) arrived in high spirits.

Back in 2015…

Our group had competed in the Voice Festival once before, last year in our first year as an ensemble, and it was a thunderously eye-opening experience that reinvented the way we all approached a cappella. The talent of all the other groups inspired us all to work our noggins off to push the boundaries ever harder regarding our arrangements, our choreography, our performance and even our dynamics – as insisted by our MDs! We wanted nothing more than to deliver on the standard present at the University Competition that had been such a showcase of diverse, kickass talent in 2015.

And to 2016!

This year was no different – the Sweet Nothings sizzled sass, Aquapella delivered on their reputation for next-level musicality, RadioOctave dropped musical puns and swag, and our Bristol-based buddies Pitch Fight made their VoiceFest debut and absolutely rocked our socks off. The Rolling Tones also provided a personal highlight with a stellar arrangement of Nancy Sinatra’s ‘Bang Bang’ (if you haven’t watched it, watch it).

Our group had competed in the Voice Festival once before, last year in our first year as an ensemble. It was a thunderously eye-opening experience that reinvented the way we all approached a cappella. The talent of all the other groups inspired us all to work our noggins off to push the boundaries ever harder regarding our arrangements, our choreography, our performance and even our dynamics – as insisted by our MDs! We wanted nothing more than to deliver on the standard present at the University Competition that had been such a showcase of diverse, kickass talent in 2015.

The calibre of the competing groups was just as immense as we’d remembered, and we were thrilled to share a stage with so many groups that all had a unique style to bring. Being surrounded by such talent is a surreal experience, but we entered into the whole affair with a group mentality of aiming for enjoyment rather than victory. We knew that this would help settle the nerves and make it easier to convey our own goofy brand of humour. To have made it through the video auditions stage was a privilege in itself so we weren’t too stressed out by expectation.

Our set

For our semi-final set we had decided on one of our favourite pieces of the year, a comedic mash-up of ‘I Want You Back’ and ‘Trouble’ arranged by one of our two MDs, Joe Pickin. This featured alongside one of our more experimental and recent additions to our repertoire, a medley of ‘Everything Everything’ numbers arranged by myself and our criminally modest beatboxer, Scott.

The hope was that the two arrangements would offset each other nicely and convey our ability to be both humorous and serious, although our decision not to perform any rendition of ‘How Deep Is Your Love’ had us feeling very left out!

Our progression to the finals was utterly unanticipated, and had us all absolutely giddy and gleeful. We leapt into the ‘aca-challenge’ with enthusiasm and had to rein in our joy and pride to avoid partying the night away, as we’d unexpectedly found that we had to save our voices for another stage of competition!

Workshops and the final!

We spent the following morning reclaiming our relaxed team environment by attending the various workshops and round table talks on offer at the festival. The choreo workshop especially highlighted the dazzling potential of certain group members. It’s all in the smile. Our last efforts were spent polishing our overall set, with the final addition of ‘Madness/Magic’ an arrangement the group had fallen in love with and the magnum opus of our other MD, Aliak Bedirian. It was the last piece of the puzzle that was our attempt to perform with a broad range of emotions, and sounded pretty neat too.

The standard at the final was phenomenal beyond our expectations. Bristol Suspensions were readily gushing backstage at what it meant for our group to even be appearing in a final with such honed and musical ensembles. To be counted among them was truly something else. We couldn’t stop grinning and that led to us performing our hearts out, giving it our all with complete trust in one another and generally having a #goodtimeonstage

And the winners are…

Evidently it came across, as, in some wacky fairy tale twist ending, we were immensely privileged to be announced as the champions. We also achieved awards for beatboxing and choreography and a beatboxing battle trophy along the way (to add to Scott’s list of achievements to humbly downplay).

We were so surprised and elated that, with true Bristol Suspensions class, we could only flop about the stage screaming like schoolchildren. We’d aimed only to have as enjoyable a weekend as possible, and ended up with an honour that blew our minds. Objective achieved.

With one last teary and bizarrely up-tempo encore performance of Madness/Magic, the competition was over, and we quickly elected to celebrate long past the early hours. A little too much cider and a little too much Singstar – the Bristol way. Amidst the revelry, a lot of pride was felt over our newest soprano, Eleanor, who made her debut as a group member at the event, as well as our MDs for all their hard work bearing fruit in such a positive way. The result validated the long hours of dedication, and that made us all feel absolutely on top of the world!

What’s next?

We’re completely indebted to the VF-UK team for delivering on such an entertaining and informative weekend. We’re so grateful for what we’ve achieved. Meeting and singing alongside other a cappella groups continues to be the highlight of such endeavours, and VF-UK is such an opportunity to get to know others, not to mention how useful and enjoyable the various workshops were. We had a blast.

We’ve got some plans in the works, as we’ve got to live up to our title now! We’ll be taking our EdFringe show, ‘Netflix and Trill’, up to the festival at the beginning of August, and we’ll be popping our heads into VF-UK’s own Edinburgh showcase as well. There are whispers within the group of some other surprises in store so keep an eye (and ear) out…

But for now, thank you to VF-UK and all the other groups for a fantastic weekend. The Bristol Suspensions can’t wait to see what the next year has in store!

The Bristol Suspensions - University Champions 2016


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.


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!


A Comprehensive Guide to A Cappella at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2015

A Cappella has fast become a regular feature at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and groups are getting top notch reviews from music and non-music fans alike. We’ve trawled the programme for all the a cappella that we could find and listed it in one place for you with a few top tips too!

Of course if you’re only able to make one show, come and see The Voice Festival’s very own showcase on 9 August at Greyfriars Kirk. This way you’ll be able to see 10 smashing a cappella groups doing their thing! There’s also a workshop during the day so if you fancy having a try at a cappella then come and join the fun.

IMG_7486

If you’re looking for a last minute booking, we reckon there are the most options in the first week. But, if you’re heading to Edinburgh later in the Festival there are still some absolutely phenomenal acts that you’ll be able to enjoy – and as groups reach the end of their run they tend to have really finessed their performance. Edinburgh is a great opportunity to see something different, so go and try a new group and get inspired for your next a cappella adventure!

Starting between 1pm-2pm

Who? The Oxford Gargoyles (University Champions 2010)
What? Jazz a Cappella
When? 13:00, 5-15 August
Where? C, Adam House
What do we know about them? Always smooth, always polished and with some unusual a cappella arrangements.

Starting between 2pm-3pm

Who? Out of the Blue (University Champions 2009, 2014)
When? 14:15, 6-31 August (except 12, 18 & 25)
Where? Assembly George Square Theatre
What do we know about them? Tight and polished a cappella with slick (and cheesy) choreography.

Who? The Alternotives (University Group Oxford)
What? Alternotive a Cappella
When? 14:30, 5-22 August
Where? C, Adam House
What do we know about them? Oxford’s oldest a cappella group who have won numerous Voice Festival awards.

Who? Voices of Lions (Youth Finalists 2015)
When? 14:30, 7-14 August
Where? Old Saint Paul’s Church
What do we know about them? Lush harmonies, strong male voices and we know there are future stars in this group.

Who? Aberdeen Chorus of Sweet Adelines
What? Aberdeen Calling!
When? 14:30, 29 August
Where? St Andrew’s and St George’s West, George St
What do we know about them? Barbershop, barbershop, barbershop! Expect sparkling jewellery, sparkling smiles and songs & harmonies you’ll know and love.

Who? Northern Lights (University Group, Durham)
What? The Northern Lights Display
When? 14:40, 11-15 August
Where? The Space on Niddry Street
What do we know about them? Some of the videos we’ve seen suggest they’ll have an exciting show.

Who? The Alleycats
What? A Cappella 2.0
When? 14:50, 6-31 August (except 12, 19, 26)
Where? Assembly George Square Studios
What do we know about them? Standing up, lying down, this group can sing and dance! (If you don’t know what we’re talking about catch this video from 8:10 onwards).

Starting between 3pm-4pm

Who? Semi-Toned (Current University Champions)
What? Game of Tones
When? 15:05, 7-16 August (except 9 August when performance is 13:05)
Where? The Space @ Symposium Hall
What do we know about them? This year’s champs really put on a show. I reckon the name suggests there’ll be more where this came from.

Who? The Bluebelles (University Group, Exeter)
What? Get Jazzy On It!
When? 15:10, 7-15 August (except 9 August)
Where? Space Triplex
What do we know about them? A new all-female group from Exeter (which we know is a haven for a cappella groups to develop) who are in Edinburgh for the first time.

Who? All the King’s Men (University Champions 2012)
What? Radio Gaga
When? 15:20, 5-22 August
Where? C, Adam House
What do we know about them? They’ve been to the USA this year so they’ll be at the top of their game. We’re expecting songs at breakneck speed but most looking forward to slower numbers like Hide and Seek or Hallelujah.

Who? Verity Standen
What? HUG
When? 15:30-15:55 and 16:15-16:40, 24-28 August
Where? Forest Centre Plus (part of the Forest Fringe)
What do we know about them? Something a bit off the wall… audience members sit blindfolded and are hugged by the performers, apparently so as to experience the performance through sound, breath and the vibrations of singers’ body. If not at the Fringe then where, eh?

Starting between 4pm-5pm

Who? Alabaster Box (Ghanaian Group)
What? Afropella Night
When? 16:00, 7-31 August (excluding 9, 30 August)
Where? St John’s Church
What do we know about them? We don’t know that much but a show that promises to make us feel the spirit of Ghana is bound to bring a smile to the face of anyone on a rainy Edinburgh day.

Who? The Buzztones (Community Group, London)
What? Buzzology
When? 16:00, 7-21 August
Where? Gilded Balloon Teviot
What do we know about them? Bang up to the minute songs and moves to match.

Who? Sweet Nothings (University Semi-Finalists 2015)
What? Unwrapped
When? 16:05, 7-16 August (except 9 August)
Where? The Space @ Symposium Hall
What do we know about them? This all-female group have really developed over the last 18 months and they aren’t afraid to try daring arrangements. Expect some first class beatboxing too!

Who? The Bristol Suspensions (University Semi-Finalist 2015)
What? A Suspension of Disbelief
When? 16:10, 17-22 August
Where? Greenside @ Nicolson Square
What do we know about them? A group that made it to the University Semi-Finals in the first year of their existence has got to be worth a list. Oh and they sang Anaconda.

Who? Auditioned Cast
What? Gobsmacked!
When? 16:30, 6-31 August (except 17)
Where? Underbelly George Square
What do we know about them? We know Jack Blume is involved (of Liquid 5th and formerly of Sons of Pitches) and he’s just brilliant at creating new, exciting and innovative a cappella.

Who? In the Pink A Cappella (University Group, Oxford)
What? Tuniversity Challenge
When? 16:40, 17-29 August
Where? The Space @ Surgeons Hall
What do we know about them? This group always delivers at Edinburgh and all their experience means their show never disappoints.

Starting between 5pm-6pm

Who? Aquapella (University Semi-Finalist 2015)
What? PDA: Public Displays of A Cappella
When? 17:10, 6-15 August
Where? Spotlites
What do we know about them? A group that has got better each year we’ve seen them are taking their first trip to the Fringe. Memorably their beatboxer won the Voice Festival’s inaugural beatboxing battle, and did a pirouette in the process.

Who? TUBBS A Cappella (University Group, Bristol)
When? 17:10, 24-29 August
Where? The Space @ Symposium Hall
What do we know about them? TUBBS bring boundless energy to their performance. You will definitely come out smiling!

Starting between 6pm-7pm

Who? A megamix of 10 groups
What? The Voice Festival Showcase
When? 18:00, 9 August
Where? Greyfriars Kirk
What do we know about them? It’s the only place all festival you’ll get to see this much variety in a cappella in 90 minutes.

Who? Simply Soweto Encha (Workshop leaders for the Voice Festival in 2014)
When? 18:30, 7-31 August (except 16, 30)
Where? Central Hall
What do we know about them? So natural. So free. Look like they are BORN to perform.

Starting between 7pm-8pm

Who? The Accidentals (University Semi-Finalists 2015)
What? Pitch Please
When? 19:20, 17-22 August
Where? The Space @ Symposium Hall
What do we know about them? These ladies are tremendous fun (and unquestionably have the best trousers of any a cappella group) and their shows always have a strong theme or narrative.

Who? Simply Blue (University Group from Cape Town)
When? 19:45, 8-12 August
Where? Sweet, 31-35 Grassmarket Street
What do we know about them? Not all that much, but the group have got rich musical backgrounds and promise close harmonies in songs from 50s to the present day.

Starting between 10pm-11pm

Who? Sons of Pitches (UK Professional Group who started out competing in the University Competition)
When? 22:30, 7-13 August
Where? Gilded Balloon Teviot
What do we know about them? The Sons are going from strength to strength. Headlining the Youth Final this year they improvised a song that included the line “Pizza. Not traditionally a Russian delicacy”. Seeing is believing.

Who? Face (US Group who competed on The Sing Off)
What? All Vocal Rock
When? 22:25, 23-27 August
Where? Spotlites
What do we know about them? Again, very little! But we’re pretty sure that the show that brought us the Pentatonix has got it right!


Ever wondered what it’s like to attend a Voice Festival workshop?

Attending a singing workshop may seem like an intimidating prospect for beginners – so find out a little more about what they involve by reading our latest guest blog by Kam Sandhu and Houmaa Chaudry. As well as enthusiastically volunteering to help out at our Festival Weekend, the girls found the time to attend Tobias Hug’s unforgettable beatboxing workshop – and loved every second. If you like what you read, why not stop by our workshop at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this August?

Amongst the non-stop rehearsals and performances at the Voice Festival weekend, groups and guests alike had the opportunity to attend workshops hosted by some rather prominent members of the a cappella community. On Saturday morning, Tobias Hug (a former member of The Swingle Singers, University Final judge and inspiration to many young a cappella singers) led a 2 hour workshop on the art of beatboxing. Despite the room being filled (a huge turnout meant for some fantastic group performances) with a range of beginners and fully fledged beatboxers alike, the workshop catered for all abilities.

Tobias beatboxing workshop 1To begin with, a lesson on the basics of beatboxing – and mimicry. Explaining the requirements for a good vocal percussion beat, Tobias walked the attendees through how to form popular sounds without using your actual voice. Even for the beginners in the group (ourselves included), this was a simple way to follow the lead of the more experienced. Through practice and repetition, these sounds were then combined to create short beats of varying genres – even samba was included! After experimenting with different samba beats (and some questionable dance moves on one side of the room) incorporating a vocal version of the seemingly underrated instrument that is the cowbell, it was time to put to use the large turnout at the workshop. The room was split into four groups. One group were allocated a ‘dm’ sound, another a strong ‘ka’ sound, a cymbal-resembling group and the timing-controlling hi-hats. What did this get us? Only a human drum kit! Tobias, along with Ed Scott (Semi-Toned), Tegan Creedy (The Rolling Tones) and a young guest at the workshop, then conducted this ‘beatbox choir’ for some impromptu upbeat music.

Tobias beatboxing workshop 2Moving away from the entirely musical aspect of beatboxing, the group then began to recreate the sounds of a tropical thunderstorm, leading onto an extravagant movie plot to which we could create an entirely vocal soundtrack. About 15 minutes later, the movie soundtrack in all its finished glory was performed. Had you been standing on the other side of the door, you would be forgiven for thinking we were watching an award-winning film (albeit with a very strange plot) inside. Beginning with a perfect rendition of the 20th Century Fox tune, the scene was then set in a rainforest from which marched an army. It was a battle of humans versus animals. Arrows were shot, grenades were thrown and even a cannonball was launched. The conclusion of the story was that the opera singers broke the glass and won the battle. No, it didn’t make any more sense had you witnessed it in person, but it provided an incredible soundtrack nonetheless! Some of the standout solo sounds from the soundtrack had to be an oddly-placed (but ingenious) rendition of Rue’s Whistle (From The Hunger Games), a dolphin impression, an eagle whistle and a scarily good impersonation of Chewbacca (Star Wars) – so if any of those were your doing, give yourself a pat on the back!

Tobias beatboxing workshop 3The workshop was rounded off with an improv circle (it wasn’t really a circle – more like a line) where 4 singers were asked to create a part (on the spot!) to complement the parts created by the others. Together, this created a musical piece that could be conducted by Tobias to vary the volumes and add news sounds, therefore experimenting with the sound as a whole. And in case you don’t have enough people to recreate a whole musical piece for yourself, Tobias then demonstrated how you can do this yourself with the help of a loop pedal! Using a 5 channel loop pedal, and with a little help from those in the audience, the final product of the workshop was a well-timed, brand new tune that will be playing in our minds for weeks to come.

As always, thank you to Tobias Hug for hosting the workshop with such success, as well as to the volunteers that bravely agreed to stand up in front of the rest of the group and conduct or sing/beatbox on the spot! We’re sure we don’t just speak for ourselves when we say that it was a truly incredible and invaluable experience.


My a cappella adventure begins – by Jess Tansley

Jess seen here third from right with her group, The Kingstones

Jess seen here third from right with her group, The Kingstones

Our very own VF-UK team member Jess reflects on her journey to being in her very first a cappella group, her role within VF and more!

It’s no secret that I love a cappella.

It originated through late night YouTube searches of my favourite songs, but when I moved to London for university, I was introduced to a whole new world – a bubble of a cappella, if you will. Attending the Voice Festival weekend in 2014 and seeing so many incredible groups not only competing against each other, but also bonding as part of a community cemented it in my mind – I wanted to be part of a group myself.

But where did I start? I didn’t know anyone crazy enough to start a group with me, and I wasn’t sure how to do it by myself. I knew I wanted to be involved in any way I could, so I joined the Voice Festival team in June 2014. We published a guide a few months later on how to start your own a cappella group (which you can see if you click here), which included a list of questions to consider such as group size, group name etc. Reading it made me want to start even more!

In October 2014, a girl posted on a Kingston University Society page on Facebook saying that she wanted to start up an a cappella group. I couldn’t believe it! I contacted her straight away, and soon, The Kingstones was born.

We initially tried to start as soon as we had enough people (around six), but due to scheduling conflicts and commitment issues with some members, we stopped and retried at the beginning of this year. We’ve definitely hit roadblocks – deciding a name one of the big ones! – But on Wednesday 11th March we had our first public performance as a part of our University’s Global Week. Some of our group had never performed in front of a crowd before, so naturally we were nervous, but we all had loads of fun and the crowd were really supportive, too.

I’ve learnt a magnitude of new things since joining; promotional skills, countless new music skills, team building, composing, and obviously which syllables and sounds are best for an electric guitar (verdict: it’s beeyyyooowww. You’re welcome.)

I’ve taken on the role of media manager in which I manage all of our social media accounts (@KUKingstones and The Kingstones on Facebook, go follow/like us, yeah?) and make decisions on things such as logos, t-shirts etc. although we all help each other out, too. We sing such a wide range of music – from The Muppets to Hozier – which means that there’s never a dull moment in rehearsal! We’re already planning our next performance opportunities, and we can’t wait.

Joining a group and getting involved with VF-UK has been one of the best decisions I’ve made. It has not only enriched my university experience, but also taken me to places I would never have visited, opened me up to new experiences and challenge my leadership skills, too.

The recent Festival Weekend in Birmingham was such an incredible whirlwind. I’ve never been involved in something as big as this before, and even though it was hectic and so fast paced with 400 things happening at once, I loved every second of it. It actually made me a little bit emotional to see so many diverse, talented, wonderful people all in one place celebrating each other’s successes. The level of talent this year was insane, and I can’t wait to see how the UK a cappella scene progresses.

If you’re considering either starting or joining a group, or even just getting more involved in the a cappella world – my advice? Do it!


Interactive guide to the Festival Weekend, with added Happy!

For those of you unsure as to what our Festival Weekend will entail – or for those who just want to learn a little bit more about our judges, workshop leaders and competing participants, we’ve put together a useful guide which provides at-a-glance information on all of our workshop and competition sessions, as well as links to other web pages and details on how to purchase tickets.

Make sure you turn up your speakers, because the guide also includes a first listen of our collaborative recording of the chart topper ‘Happy’, as sung by participating a cappella singers from the 2014 Festival Weekend. Once again, our 2015 Weekend will include collaborative recording sessions with Liquid 5th Productions, so make sure you come along to give those vocal chords a stretch.