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Voice Festival Regional Final @ Bramall Music Hall

Last Saturday, on an icy Guild Elections night, many of us were elsewhere on campus. The Bramall Music Hall was filled for the semi-final Voice Festival UK event, and with standards exceptionally high this proved to be a thrilling watch. The good sportsmanship, humour and talent shown by our University’s a capella groups allowed for a light-hearted but mind-blowing evening.  Four of the six groups were from the University of Birmingham so this was a real opportunity to see the hard work of our own ensembles and those from further afield. 

The evening opened stylishly with the talented Uptone Girls taking the stage. Clad in disco pants, the girls delivered a beautiful cover of Wicked Games and showcased Lizzie Jones’s excellent beat boxing. Both The Uptone Girls and Voice Versa (also UoB) gave particularly fantastic solo performances, with Uptone’s Charlye Simpson receiving an award for hers. Elsewhere the Treblemakers shone with their innovative Video Game arrangement, one of the most original pieces of the night.


It wasn’t an easy road for UoB, however.  Songsmiths from Leeds and the Augmentals from Birmingham Conservatoire offered excellent arrangements, with a particularly amusing performance from the Augmentals. Don’t Worry Be Happy won them the crowd, towards the end of an intense programme. There was no interval during the performances, which further emphasised how tight the competition was for awards, between many of the groups.

In my eyes, however, the night was stolen by one group. We can’t discuss the event without mentioning the absolute highlight, The Sons of Pitches. Their phenomenal mix of Cry Me A River with Lose Yourself demonstrated tight vocals, choreography and an exceptional arrangement. As a result, they sailed through to the final. The Sons are known for their strong following, who were certainly in attendance; the group got a huge reaction from the audience. All aspects of their performance were virtually seamless, leaving the audience stunned by their ability.

IMG_2290Saturday night’s contest had it all: outstanding vocal performances, the atmosphere of a top-draw contest and a version of Starry Eyed which beat the original. This was an extremely fun event to attend and we wish The Sons of Pitches the best of luck for the final!

Tickets for the Voice Festival final, taking place at City of London School for Girls on 15th March, are available here: http://thevoicefestival.co.uk/events/the-big-weekend-15-17-march/

By Eleanor Smallwood


Voice Festival UK: Birmingham regional round

Voice Festival UK came to the University of Birmingham on Saturday 25th of February for a regional round of its nation-wide competition. Three a capella groups from Birmingham, and one from the University of Leeds, sang their hearts out to win a place at the London final, with the ultimate hope of winning a cash prize and the coveted title of ‘Best UK University A Cappella Group 2012’.

While certainly thrilling for the contestants, the evening was extremely enjoyable for the audience also. Parents, friends and random spectators alike really got involved and it was clear there was a lot of support for the singers and the competition in general. The evening ran surprisingly smoothly, thanks to a great technical team and the funny and engaging compere, Matthew Saull. Evidently, a lot of work had been put into the event so as not to detract from the sole reason for being there; to hear the performances.

The night began with an excellent set of vocal arrangements by The Sons of Pitches. Dressed in matching, bright red boiler suits, the group came on to the stage in a burst of energy that was consistent throughout their performance. With mellow and harmonic tunes such, as Kimbra’s Settle Down, as well as an inventive and funny Club Medley, the group’s flexibility and choreography reflected their talent and definitely won the audience over.

The next act from Birmingham was a newly-formed  mixed-group, Voice Versa. Whilst more self-contained than the previous act, their performance was strong nonetheless. Their arrangement of Cyndi Lauper’s True Colours was especially superb and caught the interest of the judges who gave them a special award for it at the end of the night.

Despite being the only group from Leeds, the men and women from 95 Keys stood their ground and delivered three powerful arrangements. Their rendition of Chicago, with solos by vocalists, J Fogel and Hannah Perlin, was especially moving and highly appreciated by the judges. The final group, the all-girls Birmingham Songbirds livened the night with their red dresses and fun choreography. Complete with Beach Boys and Spice Girls medlies, their act was vigorous and entertaining.

After an interlude with one of the University’s very own stand-up comedians, the judges came on stage, thanking all attendees and participants. Awards like ‘Best Choreography’ and ‘Best vocal arrangement‘ were deservedly given, building the suspense before revealing who was going to London. It had obviously not been an easy decision, but after much deliberating The Sons of Pitches emerged victorious. Their encore performance ended the night on a high; it was a successful evening and great advertisement in general for Voice Festival UK.

For more info on Birmingham University’s A cappella scene, click on links to the groups’ webpages and  University of Birmingham A Cappella Network on facebook.

Words by Elisha Owen