Festival Weekend – Interview with Andy Wilson

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Did we mention that we’re going to Birmingham for our Festival Weekend? We caught up with Andy Wilson, a current student at Birmingham Conservatoire who gave us a bit of insight into what he is most looking forward to over the weekend.

Tell us a bit about yourself

My name is Andrew Wilson and I’m currently on the Vocal and Operatic degree course at Birmingham Conservatoire. I’ve sung with various groups in the Northampton and Birmingham areas; at School, Birmingham Conservatoire and Birmingham University.

When did you first get involved in the Voice Festival and in which cities have you been to with VF-UK?

My first experience of the Voice Festival was watching my sister’s old a cappella group ‘HotTUBBS’ performing their Mcfly medley on youtube- I think it was from the 2012 Bristol Regional…?! The following year I took a start-up group from the Conservatoire to the Birmingham competition, winning the award for ‘Best Audience Engagement’.

What’s the a cappella scene normally like in Birmingham?

The a cappella scene in Birmingham is a strong one; being the country’s second city there is always performance opportunities going for those groups that look for them. From local charity gigs to the annual Vale Festival, a cappella performance is never too far away. There are still 4 active groups at UoB, with perhaps the most previously well-known, ‘The Sons of Pitches’, having graduated just last year.

Are you involved over the weekend?

I’m looking forward to MCing both of the University semi-finals at the Voice Festival this year, as well as running a workshop, Groove: The Rhythm Section, with the Sons of Pitches beatboxer Mide Adenaike.
It is looking like a fantastic festival line-up, bringing in the best groups from up and down the country as well as some incredible workshops and masterclasses from top level professionals like Claire Wheeler (The Swingle Singers). I believe that particular masterclass is by sign-up only, so make sure to get your name down quick!

What else should participants do when they’ve got a spare hour over the weekend in Birmingham?

If you have a spare hour over the weekend there are a great number of things to check out which are all in easy walking distance;
• The Bullring Shopping Centre: it has over 160 shops and there’s always something going on
• Birmingham Museum and Art gallery is literally across the road- well worth an hour or two of browsing
• The secret garden atop the brand new Birmingham Library is a hidden jewel, and would perhaps be a great place for a scratch a cappella video… The views not too shabby either…
• St Phillip’s Cathedral and square is parallel to New Street and a lovely spot to waste an hour with a coffee, again just up the road from Conservatoire via an aptly placed Costa
Of course there are plenty of pubs, bars, restaurants and the like on or around New Street. If anyone has any questions about the Conservatoire or surrounding areas over the weekend please don’t hesitate to ask- it was painstaking trying out all the local pubs… but I don’t mind sharing my research.

Best of luck to all the groups competing, I hope you have a fantastic weekend.

If you want to catch Andy’s A Cappella Express Talk it will be at 5:30pm on Saturday where he’ll be exploring the role of the rhythm section in an a cappella group. Tickets for the Festival Weekend are available here

Meet Jes

Jes Sadler is an educator, singer and vocal percussionist from London, UK. He’s also one of our wonderful Patrons.

Jes spent nine years touring with a cappella group The Swingle Singers as Baritone and Vocal Percussionist, giving concerts in many of the world’s top venues, recording seven albums and serving as the group’s Technical Director.

Jes left Swingles in 2006 and became a founder member of ‘Beatbox Choir’ The Vocal Orchestra – a collective comprising some of the UK’s outstanding human beatboxers and vocalists. Founded by the beatboxer Shlomo, the ensemble’s debut performance was headlining the International Human Beatbox Convention at London’s South Bank Centre in 2007. Over the following years they played to thousands at The Big Chill and Glastonbury festivals, the South Bank Centre’s Chorus vocal festival and The Udderbelly and collaborated with artists as diverse as Jarvis Cocker, Ashley Walters, Mutya Buena, Cleveland Watkiss and Imogen Heap. 2010 saw Shlomo & The Vocal Orchestra take things to another level with the premiere performances of human beatbox musical ‘BOXED’ and the groundbreaking Concerto for Beatboxer and Orchestra by composer Anna Meredith.

An accomplished educator, Jes was Lead Tutor with Battersea Arts Centre’s pioneering project the BAC Beatbox Academy. This project continues to find and work with young people in South London by introducing them to beatboxing, enhancing their skills and developing their musicianship and collaborative abilities. Jes was also involved with the SPARK and Sing Up! UK education programmes, encouraging primary-aged children to find and experiment with their voices with his courses “My Voice – My Instrument” and “If You Can Speak, You Can Beatbox!”.
Since 2008, Jes has regularly led workshops for and judged the Voice Festival UK collegiate a cappella championships. He became a patron of Voice Festival UK in 2011.

Jes moved with his wife to Verona, Italy in 2012 and now works full-time teaching English to a wide range of learners using the Speak Your Mind method at the school’s headquarters in the centre of the city, as well as continuing to pursue various musical and spoken-word projects.

He is much in demand as a session vocalist for film, commercials and recordings and – being an ensemble specialist – Jes has performed with a number of other groups, the most recent and notable being a four-year stint in elite a cappella band The Magnets.

 

You can follow Jes on Twitter @thejesmeister

 

Why do you support the Voice Festival UK?

There is no better-organised, more enthusiastic, more professional, or more collegiate vocal competition in the world today as the annual Voice Festival Championships.  The love for vocal music is perfectly expressed through the dedication of the organisers and participants, the joy of the crowd, and the expansion of VF-UK into a beautiful support network for all those in the UK who love this thing called singing.