A couple of weeks before Christmas, we here at the blog were once again provided with a wonderful Christmas present: the announcement of the round allocations for this year’s Voice Festival UK university competition. For the second year running, the competition is bigger than ever, with more groups from more universities competing than ever before in five Regional Rounds: Oxford, St Andrews, London, Birmingham and Exeter.
In this series of blogs, we will be previewing each Regional Round, commenting on each group and their chances of reaching the final, as well as introducing several groups you might not yet have heard of.
In our fifth and final installment, we’re checking out what’s on offer in the Birmingham Regional, taking place for the third time on 9 March 2013.
In the two previous years that the Voice Festival has visited Birmingham, two different groups have won the Regional. In 2011, Augmented Seven, a group which disbanded last year, won the inaugural round ahead of three other groups from the University of Birmingham. Last year, with the net cast a little wider, it was all-male group The Sons of Pitches which claimed the victory, ahead of award-winning performances from the likes of Voice Versa and 95 Keys from the University of Leeds.
The Augmentals: One of two new groups this year, The Augmentals hail from Birmingham Conservatoire and are very much an unknown quantity. They were founded in November 2012 and currently consist of 11 members, but aside from that we don’t really know much about them! We look forward to hearing them in the upcoming event. You can find the group on Facebook.
The Treblemakers: The second of the new groups, the Treblemakers become the sixth group from the University of Birmingham to compete in the competition, and the fourth currently. With a name identical to the all-male group in the recent Aca-Film, Pitch Perfect, they will be hoping to have just as much success in competitive a cappella as their namesakes.
The Songsmiths: The name might not be familiar, but the group certainly will be: Leeds based group The Songsmiths were known last year as 95 Keys, and impressed in their debut performance at this Regional Round, picking up the award for ‘Outstanding Arrangement’. Not many groups manage that upon their debut, and with the entire of Leeds’ student body to choose from, they do have some talented singers in their midst too. Definitely ones to look out for.
The Uptone Girls: Another name you may not be familiar with, but whose members may be recognisable – formerly The Birmingham Songbirds, the all-female group have returned with a much punnier name, and will hope this improve their fortunes on stage too. Having not picked up an award in their two previous competitive efforts, they will be hoping that will change this year. With more experience than the majority of the groups in the competition, they could be in with a shout.
Voice Versa: Back for a second year, the award-winning mixed group (‘Outstanding Musicality’) looked very tight last year, and if they can add a little more spice and originality to their set compared to last year, they too could do well. They showed a spark of invention last year with their Feel Good Medley, as well as a lot of soul during their opening number, so if they play to their strengths they may find themselves through to the final.
The Sons of Pitches: For The Sons of Pitches, life really began after the Voice Festival last year. After they progressed to the final, they began to secure gigs left, right and centre, and their YouTube on-the-spot arrangements were vastly popular, and help them to develop a huge new fanbase. That just shows to show how much of an impact winning a competition like this can have. This year, the all-male group return as clear favourites, and having won awards in both previous years they have competed, as well as ‘Outstanding Stagecraft’ in last year’s final, they have the energy, the know-how and the vocal ability to qualify again. Can any of the other groups defy the odds?
In a strong turnout in Birmingham, all four groups that competed last year are back, with two newcomers making it one of the most competitive rounds in the competition this year. It’s hard to look past The Sons of Pitches, simply because of their incredible set and success last year – there were some at last year’s final who believed they should have won. However, they must not rest on their laurels, because there are five groups wanting to nick that final spot away from them. The most likely to do so is difficult to pinpoint, though – The Songsmiths had a great debut last year, as did Voice Versa, but The Uptone Girls have more experience and this may work in their favour. Not much is known about newcomers The Treblemakers or The Augmentals, although the latter, coming from a music school, could well provide us with some very tight Musicality, if nothing else. It’s all to play for.
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