Fringe Focus: Semi-Toned

Semi-Toned: The Exemen

Semi-Toned: The Exemen

In the lead up to this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival, every week we will be producing special focuses on our collegiate groups who will be performing at the world’s largest amateur arts festival in 2013. In the sixth of this series of articles, we will be looking at another of our Fringe debutants, all the way from Exeter, it’s Semi-Toned.

Fringe History

Semi-Toned are performing for the first time at the Festival since their inception in the autumn of 2010. The group is still in its first generation, for the most part, and after reaching the Voice Festival UK Final earlier this year, they have decided to take the large next step of taking their talents to Edinburgh.

Previous UACUK Ratings

N/A

This Year

The boys are joining a plethora of other groups at theSpace @ Symposium Hall from 3rd-10th August, a venue which in recent times has become somewhat of a hub of UK collegiate a cappella. Their show goes up at 3.05pm for the usual 50 minutes, and they promise that audience will be able to ‘witness the best in the South West’. Get your tickets now – they’ll be gone before you know it.

What To Expect

Something new. Something fresh. Something vibrant. Something awesome. Semi-Toned unleashed a wall of sound at the Voice Festival UK Final earlier in the year, and while they lacked polish, they were unlucky not to pick up any accolades. To reach the final is an achievement in itself, though, and for a fledgling group it shows how far they have come in such a short space of time. The boys aren’t afraid to mock the choirboy stereotype in their sets, and indeed are one of the groups that are great to watch simply because you can tell they’re having a bloody good time on stage. They don’t sound half bad either. Also, watch out for their beatboxer, Jack Telfer St. Claire. He’s something special.

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Fringe Focus: The Oxford Gargoyles

The Oxford Gargoyles: Jazz A Cappella

The Oxford Gargoyles: Jazz A Cappella

In the lead up to this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival, every week we will be producing special focuses on our collegiate groups who will be performing at the world’s largest amateur arts festival in 2013. In the fifth of this series of articles, we will be looking at another of the stalwart of Fringe Festival action, jazz group The Oxford Gargoyles.

Fringe History

The Oxford Gargoyles are back for their eighth consecutive year at the Festival. They started in humble surrounding at C Too, but their relationship with C Venues has blossomed over time and they now hold down a place at C(-1) year upon year – and with reviews like the ones they’ve been getting over the past couple of years, this place is highly deserved. Having been labelled by one reviewer as the ‘stand-out a cappella group of the Fringe,’ the ‘Goyles have a rich and successful Edinburgh legacy.

Previous UACUK Ratings

2011: 9/10 – “Slick, tight and very professional”
2012: 9/10 – “One of the best shows in the entire festival”

This Year

As in previous years, The Gargoyles will be performing in C(-1) every day from 31st July – 17th August from 2.20pm, kicking off the a cappella fest in that particular venue that includes the Alleycats and In The Pink at various points in the festival calendar. With a strong niche following in Edinburgh combined with years of rave reviews, it might be difficult to get a ticket for this one unless you buy soon.

What To Expect

The Oxford Gargoyles are basically the Out of the Blue of jazz a cappella. The two groups have very different musical styles, but are also similar in many ways – they are slick, musically extremely tight, and conduct themselves in a highly professional manner. The mixed-voice Gargoyles may not be as energetic as their all-male counterparts, but jazz music doesn’t exactly give rise to high-octane dance moves, and indeed, their performance last year was the best musically out of all the groups at the festival. They will look sharp in their black tie, sound dreamy, and dish out something quite different to most of the other groups. How they will compare to the new kids on the block, Vive, remains to be seen. Regardless, their Fringe pedigree and musical flawlessness is reason enough to go buy your ticket right now.

Further Details

Fringe Listing

Fringe Focus: Out of the Blue

Out of the Blue

Out of the Blue

In the lead up to this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival, every week we will be producing special focuses on our collegiate groups who will be performing at the world’s largest amateur arts festival in 2013. In the fourth of this series of articles, we will be looking at one of the perennial Fringe-going groups, the hugely successful Out of the Blue.

Fringe History

Out of the Blue have been performing at the Edinburgh Fringe since 2003, and their following has hugely increased in the past 10 years. Since performing to 9 members at their first ever show, Out of the Blue have become a staple part of any Fringe diet, and now perform to hundreds of people every day for the entire Festival. Last year was arguably their most successful yet, moving for the first time to Assembly @ George Square, one of the largest venues at the Festival and packing it full almost every night. They have truly become stuff of Fringe legend.

Previous UACUK Ratings

2011: 9/10 – “Phenomenal”
2012: 8/10 – “An incredible hour of a cappella”

This Year

The boys are once again returning to the massive Assembly George Square location, which is arguably one of the most popular venues at the whole Festival. Their show will begin with previews on August 1st, with the ‘real thing’ going on from 3rd-26th, all at 2pm. With this group’s reputation, both from Fringe ancestry and national exposure on Britain’s Got Talent, you’d better get your tickets soon.

What To Expect

Slick, energetic, professional, mind-boggling a cappella. If there is one thing that defines Out of the Blue, it’s their complete assurance of their identity. They are the smooth, handsome, playful top dogs of UK university a cappella. They have the most fans, the biggest tours, the most successful history, and the longest Fringe show year after year. This assurance comes across whenever they perform: the slow numbers are pitch-perfect, with highly polished harmonies and a fragile, delicate blend; while the upbeat numbers are executed with verve, fervour and great deals of aplomb. They are the group who has been there, done that, and have their own t-shirts. Overlook them at your peril.

Further Details

Fringe Listing

Fringe Focus: The Alleycats

The Alleycats: Contemporary A Cappella

The Alleycats: Contemporary A Cappella

In the lead up to this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival, every week we will be producing special focuses on our collegiate groups who will be performing at the world’s largest amateur arts festival in 2013. In the third of this series of articles, we will be looking at one of the most impressive groups from last year’s Festival, the Alleycats.

Fringe History

The Alleycats made their Fringe debut back in 2010 with a short six-day run, which earned them much critical acclaim and an official Fringe Sell-Out award. They have since been back every year, becoming ever more popular, and last year was arguably their best yet, expanding their audiences and receiving some of their highest praise since they graced the Fringe scene.

Previous UACUK Ratings

2011: 8/10 – “Thoroughly entertaining”
2012: 9.5/10 – “Impeccable blend”

This Year

The Cats will be hitting up the Fringe in a week’s time, starting early on 31 July and performing until 13 August. They will once again be in C Venues’ main venue on Chambers Street, and will be part of an a cappella afternoon feast, starting their 50-minute show at 15:30. After what many were calling the ‘Golden Generation’ of the group last year, they will surely be one of the hottest tickets in town, so get them fast!

What To Expect

The Alleycats in recent years have become the complete package: no other group has the energy, dynamism and ‘hipness’ combined with the solid musicality that the mixed-voice group from St Andrews provide. While many groups will offer slick musicality, a highly-tuned blend and the so-called ‘wall of sound’, The Alleycats bring this and more: last year, they proved that they sacrifice no amount of musical intricacies for their energetic choreography. This could partly be down to departing musical director Brendan Macdonald, who has overseen two CDs (one forthcoming) in his two-year tenure and has a real ear for blend. If the group can muster up the same variety as last year, this could be one of the stand-out shows at the Festival.

Further Details

Fringe Listing

Fringe Focus: Vive

Vive - Jazz A Cappella

Vive – Jazz A Cappella

In the lead up to this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival, every week we will be producing special focuses on our collegiate groups who will be performing at the world’s largest amateur arts festival in 2013. In the second of this series of articles, we will be looking at this year’s VF-UK Champions Vive, who will be making their Fringe Festival debut following their current tour of Lithuania.

Fringe History

As mentioned above, Vive have never performed at the Fringe Festival before, and will be continuing their highly successful year by becoming the latest in a line of London-based groups to grace the Festival.

Previous UACUK Ratings

N/A

This Year

Vive will be taking the place of last year’s debutants The Accidentals in performing at SpaceCabaret @ 54, a small but intimate venue which will definitely suit their style of a cappella better than that of the St Andrews girls. They will be at the Festival early on, performing for a week from 2-8 August from 6.10pm. Their astonishing rise to the top of UK university a cappella in just one year has been nothing short of phenomenal, and their established musical background means that they should be one of the slickest sounding groups at this year’s Festival.

What To Expect

To be honest, it’s unclear. Having only seen them perform a short 12-minute set at the Voice Festival UK Final back in March before, I do not know how they will tackle a more lengthy hour-long show. What is certain, though, is that their jazz a cappella is on a par, if not better, than that of more established jazz group The Oxford Gargoyles, and they are one of the tightest groups musically that I have ever heard. The venue selection seems to indicate they will be keeping to their informal way of performing: preferring natural rhythm-based movement to highly choreographed routines, so one assumes that it will be more of a musical than a visual treat. But hey, that’s what a cappella should be all about, right? Get your tickets quickly for what will be the best sounding group at the Fringe. Period.

Further Information

Fringe Listing

Fringe Focus: All the King’s Men

All the King's Men - Knight Fever!

All the King’s Men – Knight Fever!

In the lead up to this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival, every week we will be producing special focuses on our collegiate groups who will be performing at the world’s largest amateur arts festival in 2013. In the first of this series of articles, we will be looking at last year’s VF-UK Champions and 2013 Finalists All the King’s Men, who will be returning to the Festival for the fourth consecutive year.

Fringe History

The boys have a long and fruitful relationship with theSpace venues, having performed twice at Surgeon’s Hall and shifting last year just around the corner to Symposium Hall. Last year was their most successful year yet, garnering some fantastic reviews and producing not one but two separate shows, both of which went down a storm. They aren’t known for their lengthy Fringe runs, preferring to hone their talents into short six- or seven-day runs, which has been a masterstroke in terms of keeping their voices fresh and not overdoing it.

Previous UACUK Ratings

2011: 8/10 – “Thoroughly impressive.”
2012: 9/10 – “Nothing short of exceptional.”

This Year

Once again, All the King’s Men will be bringing not one but two shows to the Fringe Festival, again limiting themselves to short run in the middle of the Festival madness. Their main show, Knight Fever!, is once again at theSpace @ Symposium Hall from 12-17 August at 15:10. Despite having been pipped at the Final of this year’s Voice Festival UK, they will still be one of the hottest tickets in town thanks to rave reviews coming from last year’s performance, which was arguably the pinnacle of the group’s short existence so far. Their second show, All the King’s Men Present… is a continuation of the successful setup of the same show last year, whereby the boys invite other groups in the collegiate scene to join them on stage. Those special evenings will be taking place on the 12 & 14 August from 23:30.

What To Expect

All the King’s Men’s domination of the London university a cappella scene has come under threat this year from newbies Vive, who will be joining them at the Festival this year, but the two groups are hugely different and All the King’s Men present that classic feel-good, look-good, sound-good style of a cappella, and they are one of the best groups in the country at what they do. They have gained even more international experience since last year, which will have banished any stage demons they may have had. Their failure to win VF-UK 2013 wasn’t down to a dip in quality, rather their competitors stepping up their game, and so if you enjoyed their show last year, as we certainly did, then you will definitely enjoy them again this year.

Further Details

Fringe Listing – Knight Fever!
Fringe Listing – AtKM Presents…

Ed Fringe Guide: The Who, Where and When of A Cappella This Summer

by John Lau

The world’s largest celebration of the Arts descends on the Capital of Scotland for the best part of 4 weeks from the last day in July, and we here at UACUK cannot wait to see so much vocal talent from across the UK campus and even further afield. This article lists all 29 a cappella acts who will take to the many temporary stages that are set up across all manner of premises in Edinburgh for everyone’s delectation.

Returning for their second Fringe run, The Accidentals will be presenting their show Who Runs The World?, highlighting their Beyonce-esque fierceness – something which undoubtedly will be demonstrated in the show itself.

Dates: Monday 12 August – Saturday 17th August
Times: 19:05 – 19:55
Venue: theSpace @ Symposium Hall, EH8 9DR
Prices: £7.00 Adults, £6.00 Concessions

The Alleycats of St Andrews with all their energetic display of contemporary a cappella will return to the Edinburgh Fringe for another run:

Dates: Wednesday 31 July to Tuesday 13 August
Times: 15:30 – 16:20
Venue: C Venues, Chambers Street, EH1 1HR
Prices: £9.50-£11.50 Adults, £7.50-£9.50 Concessions, £5.50-£7.50 Under 18s

All the King’s Men from King’s College London will hold a daytime show and a night time show as per last year when they successfully sold out their daytime show. Their own show in the daytime was critically acclaimed by the reviewers as full of “Professionalism and Utter Precision”, but just like last year you will do well to catch them in the daytime as they only have 6 shows, entitled Knight Fever! as listed below:

Dates: Monday 12 August – Saturday 17 August
Times: 15:10 – 15:55
Venue: theSpace @ Symposium Hall, EH8 9DR
Prices: £8.00 or £9.00 Adults, £6.00 or £7.00 Concessions

Their night time show All The King’s Men Present… is a showcase featuring some of the groups who happen to be in Edinburgh through the month of August, preparing us all for an “Aca-awesome” night (or 2) at theSpace:

Dates: Monday 12 & Wednesday 14 August
Times: 23:15 – 00:00
Venue: theSpace @ Symposium Hall, EH8 9DR
Prices: £7.00 Adults, £5.00 Concessions

The Oxford Alternotives, featuring the best Soloist in the Voice Festival UK, Miss Jessie Reeves, will return in 2013 for a fourth consecutive run with their mix of outrageous choreography and sketch comedy in the second half of the month of August:

Dates: Monday 12 August – Saturday 24 August
Times: 14:05 – 14:55
Venue: theSpace @ Symposium Hall, EH8 9DR
Prices: £7.00 or £10.00 Adults, £5.00 or £7.00 Concessions

The Oxford Gargoyles will no doubt make their new album “Musical Statues” available for sale following their shows featuring jazz, pop and Disney pieces all delivered in their beautiful black tie-style:

Dates: Wednesday 31 July – Saturday 17 August
Times: 14:20 – 15:10
Venue: C Venues, Chambers Street, EH1 1HR
Prices: £9.50-£11.50 Adults, £7.50-£9.50 Concessions, £5.50-£7.50 Under 18s

In The Pink will return for their ninth year in Edinburgh with their mix of lush harmonies, lush selves, VFUK-acclaimed soloists and a toe tapping family show, prior to returning to the Chor Open Stage Festival in Berlin:

Dates: Sunday 11 August – Friday 23 August
Times: 16:30 – 17:20
Venue: C Venues, Chambers Street, EH1 1HR
Prices: £9.50 – £11.50 Adults, £7.50 – £9.50 Concessions, £5.50 – £7.50 Under 18s

The Other Guys from St Andrews University will join in the festivities with a “One Night Stand” literally bringing their exquisite musicality, questionable dance moves and a selection of their favourite parodies. No better way then to bring in a Friday night really:

Date: Friday 16 August
Time: 19:30 – 21:30
Venue: Greyfriars Kirk, EH1 2QQ
Prices: £15.00 Adults, £10.00 Concessions

From one all-male a cappella group to another, the Oxford stars of Out of the Blue are the only UK Collegiate group to have a full run throughout August when they will take the stage at Assembly George Square with their boyish charm and sparkling harmonies:

Dates: Previews: 1&2 August, Saturday 3 August – Monday 26 August (not 14)
Times: 14:00 – 14:50
Venue: Assembly George Square, EH8 9LH
Prices: Previews: £5.00, £9.50 or £11.00 Adults, £8.00 or £9.50 Concessions

All the way from the University of Exeter, Semi-Toned, the Voice Festival UK Finalists in 2013, will come to Edinburgh for a 1-week run at theSpace:

Dates: Preview: Saturday 3 August, Sunday 4 August – Saturday 10 August
Times: 15:05 – 15:55
Venue: theSpace @ Symposium Hall, EH8 9DR
Prices: Preview: £4.50 Adults, £2.50 Concessions, £7.00 or £8.00 Adults, £5.00 or £6.00 Concessions

The Voice Festival UK 2013 Collegiate Champions Vive will arrive in Edinburgh for their first visit to the Fringe full of award-winning harmonies and uniquely worked covers and original pieces at North Bridge:

Dates: Friday 2 August – Thursday 8 August
Times: 18:10 – 18:55
Venue: Space Cabaret @ 54 North Bridge, EH1 2HE
Prices: £9.00 Adults, £7.00 Concessions

Over and above all the collegiate a cappellantics that have been listed here, our friends at the Voice Festival UK may also put on another showcase as a one-off event sometime in August, in much the same style as All The King’s Men have with their night time show. Please check the Voice Festival UK website for further details nearer the time. Which leads me quite nicely to the Patron of VFUK…

Mr Dominic Peckham whose day job is Assistant Musical Director of the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain, whose charges will be enthralling us all with a one-off concert full of works by Byrd, Bach and Parry to name but 3 artists from the past in their show entitled “Light and Song”:

Date: Thursday 15 August
Time: 19:30 – 21:00
Venue: St Cuthbert’s Parish Church, Lothian Rd, EH1 2EP
Prices: £10.00 Adults, £6.00 Concessions

Next, the lovable Magnets will come back to Edinburgh with their show All This Time, and I can’t wait to see them again after seeing them live in August 2012. You will not miss their venue as they are booked to play in the Underbelly (the upside down purple cow on Bristo Square). You will also be pleased to know that they are here for the full month, almost like them boys from Out Of The Blue:

Dates: Previews: 1&2 August, Saturday 3 August – Monday 26 August
Times: 17:50 – 18:50
Venue: Underbelly, Bristo Square, EH8 9AL
Prices: Previews: £10.00, £14.00 or £15.00 Adults, £13.00 or £14.00 Concessions

The other groups may also interest some of you, as there are all manner of groups from far and wide, so please consider paying them a visit as you may be pleasantly surprised by what you hear of the likes of:

Aberdeen Chorus of Sweet Adelines on Saturday 17 August
Africa Entsha from Johannesburg throughout the month except Sundays
The Enkelit Singers from Finland with “Angels of the North” between 9 & 12 August
The Choir of St Andrew’s & St George’s West Church on selected nights
The British Vocal Jazz Festival at Le Monde George Street on selected evenings
The National Youth Choir of Scotland Girls Choir at St Giles’ on Saturday 24 August
Cantica Alba at St Andrew’s & St George’s West on Saturday 24 August
The St Giles’ Cathedral Choir on Friday 16 August
The Loud & Proud LGBT Choir at Greyfriars Kirk on Saturday 17 August
“Songs of the Scots” by the Linten Adie Community Choir at St Bride’s on Sunday 11 August
“The Spooky Man In History” at St Bride’s on Tuesday 20 August
The Choir of St Augustine’s Church on Lothian Road on Sunday 4 August
Vintage Twelve at St Andrew’s & St George’s West on 19 & 20 August
The Voices of Lions (not literally you understand) in different Churches between 3 & 8 August

So please come one come all and enjoy the A Cappella Festival in Edinburgh and we will see you on our travels.