With three weekends of top quality a cappella having whizzed past absurdly quickly, we are all set for a fifth Voice Festival UK University Final this weekend, taking place at the City of London School for Girls on Friday 15 March. With three groups having had experience in finals before, as well as three debutant groups, it really is wide open. Who is your favourite?
All the King’s Men
The reigning champions are in their third final in as many years, and having once again won the tough London Regional, must be feeling confident in their third straight final. The Men are currently the third best collegiate group in the world, having placed 3rd at last April’s ICCA Finals in New York, and will have been honing their VF-UK set while touring the US again this February. Losing their founder and long-time Musical Director Henry Southern will have been a blow, but it appears they have gone from strength to strength and look a good bet to defend their title.
The hugely unfancied Glaswegian group (having only secured 4% of the vote for the St Andrews Regional Round in our previous poll) took everyone by surprise with their phenomenal set in St Andrews, becoming the first group outside of St Andrews to qualify from that particular Regional. This is their fourth year in the competition, which gives them more experience than all but one of the other groups, and they have been on a steady incline of improvement since their debut back in 2010. Will their lack of Final experience count against them though?
The Oxford Alternotives
The Alternotives last qualified for the final back in the first year of the Voice Festival UK, in 2009. That year, they made it through the now-defunct Cambridge Regional, whereas this year they progressed in their hometown in Oxford. The group have picked up several awards in the years they haven’t made the final, demonstrating they have always been there or thereabouts when it comes to qualification, but this is the year to really capitalise on their Final berth. They sounded fantastic at the Edinburgh Fringe over the summer – to what extent will this be continued?
Having made a strong debut last year, despite not making the Final, Semi-Toned secured one third of the vote to win the Exeter Regional and proved they had built on last year’s strong foundations with an astonishing set, picking up the majority of the awards at the Regional as well as securing qualification. As one of three all-male groups at the Final, they will need to do well to stand out, and a question marks lies over whether they have quite found their unique personality as a group, but they are definitely on their way to becoming one of the biggest male groups in the country. Can they rubber-stamp that fact with a win on Friday?
The Sons of Pitches
Having arguably been close runners-up in last year’s Final, the Birmingham-based group will feel in a strong position to further challenge for the VF-UK title this year, having picked up no less than three awards at the Birmingham Regional yesterday night. The boys claim that their success at last year’s Festival was a springboard for their spring and summertime successes, so imagine what the boys could achieve were they to win the thing? Praised for their masterful stagecraft and energetic performance in recent years, do the boys have enough musicality to win them the entire competition?
The wild-card entry (literally) in this year’s final, Vive have taken a leaf out of Pentatonix’ book by being a small, male-dominated group with one exceptional female lead to add the extra-dimension to their numbers. While the group focus on an entirely different repertoire to their American counterparts, the Guildhall-based group inherently have a huge amount of musical proficiency behind them and to qualify ahead of the likes of The Techtonics from the London round is quite an achievement, even if it was through the use of the Ward Swingle Award for Originality. I cannot wait to see these guys live, and see what they can offer. Will their lack of experience hamper their ability to win? Time will tell.
Have Your Say
Our poll is now open. Who do YOU think will win this year’s final?