Gargoyles To Hit Hong Kong

interview by Henry Southern

The Oxford Gargoyles, Oxford’s premier jazz a cappella group, are embarking on their debut tour to Hong Kong and Macau from March 20th to April 2nd. We sat down with their Tour Manager, Sam Galler, to find out more.

UACUK: What made you decide to tour Hong Kong and Macau?

SG: The Gargoyles have had a longstanding tradition of traveling to the United States, where we have strong relationships with many terrific collegiate a cappella groups at Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Brown, and UPenn. This year, we wanted to try something different, and after discussing it with the leadership of the group, we all decided to take a chance and plan a tour in a completely new place.

This tour has only been made possible by a lot of hard work from the group this year, and we are so thrilled to have the opportunity to share our music with people in Hong Kong and Macau.

UACUK: What are you most looking forward to during the tour?

SG: I am most looking forward to our 10+ school workshops, where we will be able to share our passion and enthusiasm for our music with local youth. We will be listening to choirs and learning from each other, and I think this will be a really special part of our tour. We are very fortunate to be working with a variety of schools in different areas of the city, including local schools, international schools, primary, and secondary schools.

UACUK: We are aware that you have recently launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for the tour. Why did you decide do this and why FringeBacker?

SG: We are so excited to go on this tour, and really want to share our excitement with other people who would like to support our group. We also wanted to find a way to include people both in the UK and in Hong Kong, so we decided to try out crowdfunding and see if we could use it as a way to include supporters in our adventures and experiences we sing and travel. So we decided to launch a crowdfunding campaign — FringeBacker offered strong bilingual and international customization, and we have been very happy to have support from their team.

We have done our very best to come up with things that people might really like to get in exchange for supporting us, and will offer limited edition postcards, T-shirts, and concert posters to those who back our trip!

UACUK: Do you think that more collegiate a cappella groups will undertake crowdfunding?

SG: Yes, crowdfunding can be a very helpful thing for small groups with big ideas. Collegiate a cappella groups like the Gargoyles owe so much to the support of their supporters and fans, and platforms like FringeBacker simply make it easier for them to conduct fundraising campaigns to launch new projects.

UACUK: What are your plans for when you get back?

SG: After we return to Oxford, we get to enjoy Oxford’s best season, the Spring. At Oxford, it is called “Trinity” Term, and for those who don’t have exams, it is an amazing time to be here. We are singing at many garden parties and balls, and will be preparing more exciting music for our annual run at the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh this coming August!

UACUK: That all sounds very exciting! Thank you very much for talking to us!

For more information and to support The Oxford Gargoyles’ tour, visit their FringeBacker campaign page.

Follow the Oxford Gargoyles on Facebook or on Twitter at @oxfordgargoyles.

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Voice Festival UK 2014 Line-Up Analysis

Exciting news! The line-up for next year’s Voice Festival UK has been announced in the last couple of days, and as an early Christmas present, we thought we would take a look at those competing, revealing the ins, the outs, and the usual suspects in the competition.

2014 will see 27 groups compete, the same number in total as last year, and each group will submit an 8 minute video to the Voice Festival, reminiscent of the International Wild Card round of the ICCAs. The best groups will proceed to two Semi-Finals and then a final, taking place on one weekend in March, where the best group will be crowned VF-UK 2014 University Champions.

So without further ado, here’s the line-up:

The Usual Suspects:
The Sons of Pitches – VF-UK Finalists 2012, 2013; ICCA Finalists 2013
The King’s Chicks
All the King’s Men – VF-UK Winners 2011, Finalists 2012, 2013; ICCAs – 3rd, 2011
The Ultrasounds
Sweet Nothings
Semi-Toned – VF-UK Finalists 2013
Illuminations
The Imperielles
The Scopes
The Techtonics
Score (formerly Voice Versa)
The Uptone Girls
The Treblemakers
The Accidentals – VF-UK Finalists 2010, 2011
The Alleycats – VF-UK Finalists 2009, 2010
The Houghtones
The Songsmiths
Aberpella
Choral Stimulation – VF-UK Finalists 2013

The Debutants:

The J Walkers (University of Birmingham) – a brand new group from the University of Birmingham, The J Walkers make the number of entries from Birmingham up to 5, alongside the Sons of Pitches, Uptone Girls, the newly named Score and last year’s debutants, The Treblemakers. We don’t know much about them just yet, but look forward to seeing what they have to offer.

The Cosmopolitones (University of Leeds) – Leeds’ second a cappella group after The Songsmiths, The Cosmopolitones are an all-female group founded this year, 2013, and having made a couple of public performance in October and over the Christmas period, they’ve been quick to rack up the on stage experience. Will they make the Semi-Final? Watch this space…

A Patella (University of Aberdeen) – Aberdeen’s all-medic group have been around for a while – they formed in November last year but did not take the chance to compete in last year’s competition. This year, however, they join the only other all-medic group, Oxford’s The Ultrasounds, in the competition and will be hoping to impress in their début year.

The Polyphonics (University of Warwick) – Warwick’s first group already has a slick website and some matching jackets, so if their singing is as solid as their organisational skills, they could well be dark horses going into the competition this year.

Durham University A Cappella Choir (University of Durham) – the originally named Durham University A Cappella Choir (are we calling them DUACC for short?) were founded only a couple of months ago, and will have their work cut out if they’re to progress to the Semi-Finals amongst such an illustrious cast of groups against them.

The Returnees:

Out of the Blue (University of Oxford) – the winners of the very first VF-UK competition back in 2009, Out of the Blue’s phenomenal record of making every final was dashed last year only due to their withdrawal from the competition. With the boys back to set the record straight, they will certainly be a name to watchgiven their previous pedigree in the competition.

Cadenza (University of Cambridge) – After two years away from the competition, Cadenza will be in the remarkable of being the only group in the competition to have won the competition the last time they competed. Cadenza won in 2011 and haven’t competed since. In a way, therefore, they will be defending their title, especially given the absence of reigning champions Vive (further information below).

HotTUBBS (University of Bristol) – After reaching the Final on their début performance in 2012, HotTUBBS chose not to compete last year due to other commitments. However, they’re back in force this year and will be hoping to do just as well second time around.

Notable Absences:
The Oxford Belles – VF-UK Finalists 2009
The Oxford Gargoyles – VF-UK Winners 2010; ICCA Finalists 2007
The Oxford Alternotives – VF-UK Finalists 2009, 2013
In The Pink – ICCA Semi-Finalists 2006
Fitz Barbershop – VF-UK Finalists 2010; ICCA Semi-Finalists 2006
The Fitz Sirens – VF-UK Finalists 2010
The Other Guys – VF-UK Finalists 2009, 2012
The Hummingbirds
The Augmentals
Vive – VF-UK Winners 2013
Aquapella

Verdict:

While the new format seems to have pleased some, there are a lot of absentees from the competition this year, some from groups that have been a staple in Voice Festival UK competition in past years. The Belles, Alternotives and In The Pink have joined the Gargoyles as Oxford withdrawals, while The Other Guys and The Hummingbirds have chosen not to continue their long-standing presence as part of the Scottish contingent. Even more poignant is the absence of the reigning champions Vive, who judging by their Facebook feeds, have taken their talents on to new projects. Other groups withdrawing from last year are Aquapella and The Augmentals, while groups like Fitz Barbershop and the Fitz Sirens will be absent for the second and third year running respectively.

That leaves us with three out of five former Champions – Out of the Blue, All the King’s Men and Cadenza – in this year’s competition, but judging by their latest album release and their performance at last year’s ICCAs, I would have The Sons of Pitches down as favourites – they’re just so unique and entertaining. That said, several groups could win it if their repertoire works: the new 8 minute video format will force groups to hone their sets and essentially cut a song, so it may well end up being the groups who can adapt to this new format (up until the semi-finals, of course) the best who reap the rewards.

Whatever happens, we’ll be present at the semis and the final in March next year to give you all the reviews and results as they happen, and all the build-up along the way. Get excited – VF-UK 2014 is just around the corner.

Gargoyles Stagnate With Play-It-Safe Set

The Oxford Gargoyles: Jazz A Cappella

The Oxford Gargoyles: Jazz A Cappella

Rating: 7.5/10

Previous years’ incarnations of the Gargoyles have been quite something to behold – musicality awards galore from the Voice Festival; five-stars and critical acclaim dished out year upon year at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival; and Up The Scale was one of the a cappella albums of the year, with two of the tracks featured on our top 10 tracks of 2012.

So it was with a whole heap of expectation that I went into see the usually flawless Gargoyles at this year’s Festival, and whether it was my heightened expectations or a slight dip in standards of the group since last year, something didn’t quite click in the same way as it had done in previous years.

For me, this was more an exhibition of talent than top quality entertainment. Let me elaborate:

Musically, the Gargoyles were, as ever, unmatchable from start to finish. A couple of the sopranos have been accused of being a little shrill this year. I didn’t find that; on the contrary, the challenging soprano lines prevalent throughout the set were just right, occasionally dropping on top of the rich chords with the utmost delicacy. The blend, too, was magnificent, especially in the slower numbers – their rehash of And So It Goes from a previous generation was quite astonishing, although it did lack some of the emotion required. Even the beatboxing, which was shared between two or three of the male group members, was impressive, with Henry de Berker in particular showing off more than just his vocal talents with some unique and original VP sounds.

However, while the musical intricacies and wealth of vocal talent was plain to see, I just wasn’t gripped, fixated, enthralled by their performance as I was in previous years. Classical jazz numbers such as Mas Que Nada and Dream A Little Dream formed part of the at times soporific opening few minutes. I enjoy it when the group put jazzy twists on existing numbers, but efforts such as The Turtles’ Happy Together and the Beatles’ Got To Get You Into My Life just didn’t quite work as jazz adaptations, mainly due to a lack of meaty crescendo that each song cries out for.

That said, some of these adaptations did work, and were funny to boot. Jamie Cullum’s Twentysomething was perfect for the group, referencing an ‘expensive education’ and proving they’re not afraid to poke fun at themselves. That solo, as well as the one on Tainted Love/Maneater was tackled by Jacob Swindells, a tall, lanky male with a dyed blonde fringe who was rather conspicuous throughout the set, but his unorthodox appearance and technique seemed to work well for the more humorous numbers. Their encore, Cruella de Vil, was on the same lines as the previous two, and was a pleasant reminder that the group don’t take themselves too seriously.

However, the fact that two of the final tracks, the aforementioned And So It Goes and one of the highlights of last year’s set, It Don’t Mean A Thing, were also the highlights of this year’s set, gave rise to some food for thought: there is no doubt the group still possess musical proficiency in spades, but this year’s group have ducked significantly under the high bar set by previous generations. There was no stunning arrangement a la Euan Campbell’s Dancing In The Moonlight; no breathtaking slow number like last year’s Fields of Gold; and even It Don’t Mean A Thing didn’t quite seem to make the same impact as it had done on first listen last year.

I am not saying this was a bad performance; far from it. I would recommend anyone to go and see the group and marvel at their musical magnificence. But the set felt a little safe, a little stagnant, and a little bit below the high standards that I know the group hold themselves to.

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

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.

Best of British 2012: 6. Dancing in the Moonlight

The Best of British 2012 is our unofficial countdown of the top ten UK a cappella tracks of the past year. Over the next few weeks leading up to the Christmas period, we will be counting down, from ten to one, what we believe have been the best tracks on show this year, ranging from awesome arrangements, sensational solos, marvellous mash-ups, punny parodies and everything in between.

Eligible Tracks

In order to determine which tracks were to be considered for this accolade, we decided to restrict our selections to songs that fell under ONE or BOTH of the following categories:
a) A song that made its live debut in 2012
b) A song that was featured on a 2012 album

For example, although all of the tracks featured on The AccidentalsEP made their debuts at the 2011 Voice Festival, because the album was released in 2012, all of the tracks on the album were considered. Also, several tracks were considered that were not released on albums, for example songs by The Oxford Belles or The Sons of Pitches from their 2012 repertoire.

The Process

We made a list of all the eligible songs from all the eligible groups, and then picked the top three tracks from each group, where possible. We then narrowed this shortlist down to 25, before picking our 10 favourite tracks. Opinions were divided, scores were combined, and in the end there was only one winner. But who will it be?

The countdown continues here:

10. The Other Guys – St Andrews Girls
9. The Sons of Pitches – Club Medley 2
8. The Oxford Gargoyles – Fields of Gold
7. The Accidentals – Rolling in The Deep

6. The Oxford Gargoyles – Dancing in the Moonlight

Dancing smoothly into the half -way spot is the second track from The Oxford Gargoyles, their mash-up of Toploader’s Dancing in the Moonlight. A real cracker of a blend, it incorporates Ain’t No Mountain, I Believe In A Thing Called Love, Fight For This Love and Tears Dry On Their Own, and seamlessly jumbles them all together with a typical Gargoyles’ jazzy twist to form a track that is perhaps one of the best arrangements on our countdown.

Arranging maestro Euan Campbell found the mash-up came about rather spontaneously though: “It developed quite naturally over time – I definitely didn’t intend to mash five songs together at first! The addition of each track came upon the realisation that the chord sequences were the same. Thing Called Love was originally intended to be a stand alone track, but once I sat down to work out the chords, I figured out they were the same. I was reluctant to add Cheryl Cole into the mix because it’s not really our style, but I gave in eventually. Tears was a very late addition.” The hardest part was the very end, claims Campbell. “When you attempt to sing all five songs together, it’s a completely different kettle of fish. The chord sequences aren’t EXACTLY the same, as you can tell when you listen to the bass line at the back end of the track, but after a lot of playing about, I eventually found a suitable combination!”

The song made its debut at the Voice Festival UK Oxford Regional in 2012, and although Campbell claims it was far from their best performance of the song, it still received a semi-standing ovation. “It arrived quite late into our repertoire, because the arrangement was only completely finished by January of this year. As such, it does seem like we’re saying goodbye to it a little too soon!” The rehearsal process of the song was apparently quite a comical one: “No-one knew quite what to expect from it after I had been raving about it for so long, and it really was a joy to learn because it had so many twists and turns.” The last performance of the song was at the BBC Choir of the Year final, and Campbell says there couldn’t have been a better send off for the number. “Singing the song on national television was unbelievable, and perhaps a fitting way to say goodbye to it.”

The song has been subject to much acclaim since its introduction into the Goyles’ repertoire, and Campbell claims it’s the varied nature of the song that is the cause of this. “So much is packed in that it’s impossible to get bored!” The Goyles’ energetic nature and utter commitment when performing this song, coupled with their tone, diction and choreography, have made this number one of the stand out tracks of the year.

You can buy Dancing in The Moonlight, as well as the rest of the Gargoyles’ album, Up The Scale right here.

Best of British 2012: 8. Fields of Gold

The Best of British 2012 is our unofficial countdown of the top ten UK a cappella tracks of the past year. Over the next few weeks leading up to the Christmas period, we will be counting down, from ten to one, what we believe have been the best tracks on show this year, ranging from awesome arrangements, sensational solos, marvellous mash-ups, punny parodies and everything in between.

Eligible Tracks

In order to determine which tracks were to be considered for this accolade, we decided to restrict our selections to songs that fell under ONE or BOTH of the following categories:
a) A song that made its live debut in 2012
b) A song that was featured on a 2012 album

For example, although all of the tracks featured on The AccidentalsEP made their debuts at the 2011 Voice Festival, because the album was released in 2012, all of the tracks on the album were considered. Also, several tracks were considered that were not released on albums, for example songs by The Oxford Belles or The Sons of Pitches from their 2012 repertoire.

The Process

We made a list of all the eligible songs from all the eligible groups, and then picked the top three tracks from each group, where possible. We then narrowed this shortlist down to 25, before picking our 10 favourite tracks. Opinions were divided, scores were combined, and in the end there was only one winner. But who will it be?

The countdown continues here:

10. The Other Guys – St Andrews Girls
9. The Sons of Pitches – Club Medley 2

8. The Oxford Gargoyles – Fields of Gold

Awards: ‘Outstanding Musicality’ – Voice Festival UK 2012, Oxford Regional Round

Breezing in at number eight is the first of two tracks from The Oxford Gargoyles, the only group to have two tracks in this year’s top ten. Their cover of Sting’s Fields of Gold made its debut at the Goyles’ annual kick-off gig at the Turf Tavern in Oxford, meaning it was also the first time some of the members of the grup had performed to an audience as Gargoyles! The song since made its way into their Voice Festival set and was one which stood out in their Fringe Festival setlist too.

So where did the idea for the arrangement come from? Some credit for inspiration is due to Musical Director Euan Campbell’s predecessor, Alex Kaiserman, who had taken a popular song and given it a jazz twist in the past. “Alex had arranged Alicia Keys’ If I Ain’t Got You for the group in 2010, and was part of the VF-UK winning set that year. I decided to use that idea for Fields, arranging it together with an old school friend, Joe Mason, and actually had the song ready for when we auditioned in October. Thankfully, we found two perfect duetists for the number in Sasha Ockenden and Rebecca Sharp.”

Campbell was always aware of the momentous task he faced, though, in rearranging a very popular classic number, and tried to add as much originality as possible without losing the essence of the original: “To settle the listener’s ear, the first two bars have exactly the same chord sequence as the original, but then in the third and fourth bars, I changed the sequence to something a little more crunchy!” Despite this, Campbell was still cautious of the potential the song had to become a little repetitive, and took action against that: “I think arranging the song as a duet kept the arrangement on its toes, while nicely reflecting the lyrics of the song. I also added two key changes, varied rhythms and lyrics for the ensemble parts, and threw in a couple of bell tones for good measure! This helped the arrangement create its own feel, whilst still remaining true to the original.”

The song has remained a favourite of the group, despite its early beginnings way back in October. “It was the second piece we learnt as a new group, but we have never got tired of it! We fondly remember singing it for the first time in rehearsals with our eyes closed. It might sound lame, but it really helped us to connect and to listen to each other. Singing it for the last time at auditions for the new generation a couple of months ago was pretty emotional.” Campbell thinks this emotional connection to the song is noticed by their audience during performance, which is what has made it so highly regarded in the past year. “Over the course of the year, each member of the group has brought their own ideas to the table as to how the arrangement should be sung, resulting in a completely cohesive and united performance. A good arrangement is only half of it – often the way you connect with and perform the song is much more important, and we think the ease in which we can inject emotion into this song is what makes it such a crowd favourite.”

You can purchase Up The Scale, which contains this track and the rest of the Gargoyles’ 2011-2012 repertoire, right here.