List of university a cappella groups in the United Kingdom
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This is an incomplete list of university a cappella musical groups in the UK.
- 1 University of Oxford
- 2 University of Cambridge
- 3 University of Durham
- 4 University of St Andrews
- 5 University of Birmingham
- 6 King's College London
- 7 Imperial College London
- 8 Royal Holloway, University of London
- 9 University of Bristol
- 10 University of Glasgow
- 11 University of Leeds
- 12 University of Exeter
- 13 University of Aberdeen
- 14 University of Bath
- 15 Bath Spa University
- 16 University of Manchester
- 17 References
- 18 External links
University of Oxford
Out of the Blue
Out of the Blue was formed in 2000 by postgraduate Derek Smith, who, having arrived in Oxford after an undergraduate degree at Harvard University, noticed the distinct lack of an all-male a cappella group at the university. Since their inception, they have become one of the most successful university groups in the UK, having toured the UK, Ireland, the USA, Japan, Sri Lanka and Scandinavia, and acquiring consecutive Fringe Sell-Out Awards at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe every year since 2006.
The group took part in the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCAs) in 2009, progressing to the grand final in New York, coming second. That year they also won the inaugural Voice Festival UK competition, the final of which they would go on to reach every year with the exception of 2013 (when they did not compete), winning again in 2014.
The Oxford Gargoyles
In 2012, they won the Open Category of the Choir of the Year competition and performed at the finals, which were broadcast on BBC.
In 2014, the Gargoyles toured Hong Kong and Macau, performing at the first Oxford Asia Alumni Weekend, Cathay Pacific / HSBC Rugby Sevens Weekend, Hong Kong City Hall, Teatro Dom Pedro V, and more than a dozen other venues.
They have appeared at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe every year since 2006, and were awarded the status of a sell-out show in 2008.
The Oxford Belles
The Oxford Belles is one of the two all-female a cappella groups from the University of Oxford. They were formed in 1995 by Helen Whiteley, a year-long visiting student from the University of Virginia who had previously sung with The Virginia Belles.
In 2009, the group reached the London final of the Voice Festival UK and were confirmed as the best female group that year. Following this success, they travelled to New York later that year, and returned to America in 2010, this time to the West Coast and California.
In 2012-2013 the Belles recorded and released a single and a music video. They competed in Voice Festival UK 2013 and received the award for "Outstanding Musicality".
The Oxford Alternotives
The Oxford Alternotives is a mixed-voice a cappella group and the oldest a cappella group from the University of Oxford, having formed in 1993. They were originally founded as the Oxford University Alternative Singing Society by three students seeking an alternative to the chapel choirs dominating the university music scene at the time.
They have toured the USA a number of times, including a performance at the 9/11 memorial service for British victims in New York in 2005. The group also appears every year at the Edinburgh Fringe, having received 5-stars in 2013.
In 2009, the group came second in the Voice Festival UK, winning awards for 'Outstanding Arrangement' and 'Outstanding Soloist', and again qualified for the national final as Oxford regional champions in 2013.
In The Pink
In The Pink is one of the two all-female a cappella groups from the University of Oxford. They were formed in 2003.
In 2006, the group participated in the ICCAs in Western European semifinal in Oxford. They finished third, with Alexandra Godfree winning the award for 'Outstanding Arrangement' on "Rainy Days and Mondays". In 2007 they entered again, and despite not placing in the top three, Rebecca Dale won the award for 'Outstanding Vocal Percussion'. In 2008, the group participated again, this time in the first of two quarterfinals. This time Suzannah Merchant claimed the award for 'Outstanding Vocal Percussion'.
They have appeared at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe since 2005 and are set to do so again in 2013. As a result of their performance in 2010, they appeared on the Richard Bacon show on Radio 4.
The group have recorded five studio albums: Naked (2005), Tickled Pink (2006), All Mouth No Trousers (2007), By Any Other Name (2008), Pinkredible (2010) and their latest effort "She Who Dares" (2012). They competed in the Oxford round of the Voice Festival UK 2013 and received awards for 'Outstanding Performance' and 'Outstanding Soloist'.
The Ultrasounds are an all-male a cappella group from the medical school of the University of Oxford. They formed in 2010 and made their competitive debut at The Voice Festival UK 2012 in the Oxford Regional Round, where they won 'Outstanding Overall Performance' and 'Best Vocal Percussionist'.
The Beatroots are an 8-strong mixed a cappella group of postgraduate students from the University of Oxford, formed in 2012. They were awarded 'Judges' Favourite Song' at the VFUK Community Showcase in 2014.
University of Cambridge
Cadenza is a mixed-voice group formed originally in 1997 as a small jazz choir, complete with conductor and band, which was changed in 2002 to its present setup as a smaller close harmony a cappella group.
In January 2012, it was confirmed that Cadenza would not be competing in the Voice Festival UK in 2012, thus becoming the first ever group not to try and retain their title.
Fitz Barbershop is an all-male a cappella group that used to accept only members from Fitzwilliam College but now is open to members of all colleges. Having been founded in 1994 by Alex Tester, the then Organ Scholar for Fitzwilliam Chapel Choir, it is the oldest currently-running a cappella group in Cambridge. At Christmas 2009, they went to Berlin to busk at the Christmas markets, and were featured on the German 24-hour news channel.
In 2009, the group entered the inaugural Voice Festival UK competition in the Cambridge semifinal. They won the award for 'Outstanding Musicality' for Wonderful Tonight. In 2010 they entered again, winning the award for 'Outstanding Performance' and the 'Ward Swingle Award for Originality', gifting them a wild card into the London final. They went on to claim the 'Outstanding Performance' award again in the final.
They frequently perform at Cambridge May Balls, and have on occasion hosted one night events at the ADC Theatre. In March 2014 the group put on a 20th anniversary concert alongside the Fitz Sirens at Fitzwilliam college.
The Fitz Sirens
In 2010, the group reached the final of the Voice Festival UK, where they won the award for 'Outstanding Musicality'.
Blue Shakti is a mixed voice Hindi/English fusion a cappella group. It was formed in 2010 and has performed at various events in and around Cambridge, including society balls and Mastana, an annual cultural show organised by students.
The King's Men
Formerly known as "Collegium Regale", The King’s Men is the close harmony group formed from the Choral Scholars of the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge. The group has been running for more than 80 years.
The King’s Men functions separately from the main Choir (most famous for the broadcast of the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols on the radio at Christmas) and is run entirely by the members of the group itself. It performs regularly around Britain, and has performed as far afield as North America, Australia and Hong Kong.
University of Durham
Palatinotes was formed in 2013, as a mixed-voice a cappella group. They are the first a cappella choir Durham University.
University of St Andrews
The Other Guys
The Other Guys was formed in 2004 and are the only all-male a cappella group from the University of St Andrews. They are perhaps best known for their YouTube hit "Royal Romance", a tribute to the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, which gained recognition in the rest of the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, and India within a week, and the video also appeared on "Webtastic" on The Today Show.
The group entered the ICCAs for the first time in 2007, when St Andrews hosted the Western European quarterfinal, and progressed to the semifinal in London. They repeated this success in the following year. In 2009 they progressed to the London final of the inaugural Voice Festival UK competition.
The Alleycats is a mixed-voice a cappella group formed in 2001. Having originally been an all-male group, in 2007 girls were allowed to audition for the first time, and now the group consists of roughly half and half.
In 2008, the group appeared on the BBC's Last Choir Standing, making it to the final 15. The group also took a show to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2010 and plan to do so in August 2011.
In 2009 and 2010, the group progressed to the final of the Voice Festival UK in London. In 2009, Lizzy Weintz won the award for 'Outstanding Arrangement' in the final. In 2010, the group received the 'Outstanding Performance' award.
The Accidentals is an all-female a cappella group.
In 2010 they progressed from the St Andrews semifinal of the Voice Festival UK to the London final having won the award for 'Outstanding Performance'. In 2011 they achieved this success again, with Anna McDonald winning the award for 'Outstanding Soloist' for her performance of Adele's Rolling in the Deep and Ellie Mason winning the award for 'Outstanding Vocal Percussion' at the semifinal. In the final, the group were highly commended for their arrangement of Price Tag, as well as their Vocal Percussion.
The Hummingbirds is an all-female a cappella group. They have competed in the Voice Festival UK since its inception in 2008.
The Madrigal Group
Formed in 1948, the group is by far the oldest collegiate a cappella group in the University (and indeed the UK). A high standards, auditioned choir of 16, they sing madrigals as well as contemporary 'choral' A Capella by the likes of Eric Whitacre, Paul Mealor etc. In addition the group has for many decades sung choral arrangements of popular music, long before this style underwent something of a renaissance in the mid to late 1990's.
University of Birmingham
The Sons of Pitches
The Sons of Pitches is an all-male a cappella group formed in October 2010 by Mark Nathan. In 2011, they took part in the inaugural Birmingham semifinal of the Voice Festival UK. In 2012, they won the Birmingham semifinal of Voice Festival UK, and competed at the final in London. They returned to the London finals again in 2013 where they received more awards than any other group in the competition, being recognised for 'Outstanding Arrangement', 'Outstanding Vocal Percussion', 'Outstanding Choreography/Stagecraft' and 'Outstanding Performance', but ultimately lost overall to Vive from Guildhall. However, just a few weeks later The Sons of Pitches won the 'International Wildcard Round' of the International Championships of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA), and competed in the International Finals at The Town Hall, New York City, on 20 April 2013.
The Sons of Pitches has since established itself as a professional vocal ensemble.
The Uptone Girls
The Birmingham Songbirds was an all-female a cappella group. In 2011 they took part in the first Birmingham semifinal of the Voice Festival UK. Later that year, they changed their name to 'The Uptone Girls'. This year they progressed to the semi-finals of VFUK which were held in London.
Score (formerly Voice Versa) is an a cappella group from the University of Birmingham, with an outside member from Birmingham Conservatoire. They have competed in the Voice Festival for the past 3 years and perform in various charity and local gigs, as well as weddings, society balls and other events.
The Treblemakers is a mixed a cappella group from the University of Birmingham, founded in December 2012. Their debut performance was at Voice Festival in 2013.
The J Walkers
Augmented Seven is a mixed-voice a cappella group from the University of Birmingham formed in 2010 by Tom Johnson and Mark Nathan. They were University of Birmingham's first a cappella group and only mixed group.
In 2011, the group entered the Voice Festival UK at the inaugural Birmingham semifinal, and progressed to the final after winning the 'Outstanding Performance' award. Later that year, the group split up due to artistic differences. Three of its male members went on to join the second incarnation of The Sons of Pitches from 2011 to 2012.
The Lorelites is an all-female a cappella group formed in January 2011. In 2011 they took part in the first Birmingham semifinal of the Voice Festival UK. Now defunct.
King's College London
All The King's Men
All The King's Men is the first and only all-male a cappella group from King's College, London. They were formed by freshers in September 2009, and went on to have a sell-out run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2010.
In 2011, they entered the Voice Festival UK and won their regional round, also claiming the award for 'Outstanding Musicality'. In the final, they won the award for 'Outstanding Performance' with their mashup of Boogie Nights and I Don't Feel Like Dancing. In the summer of that year, they returned to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
On 11 February 2012 they won the London Regional round of Voice Festival UK for the second year running. They were also awarded the prize for Outstanding Choreography.
In February 2012 the group toured the West Coast of America performing at many prestigious Universities including Claremont, USC, UC Stanford and UC Berkeley.
On 10 March 2012 All the King's Men won the Final of Voice Festival UK, becoming the first group outside of Oxbridge to do so. They also won the award for Outstanding Musicality in their arrangement of Jeff Buckley's Hallelujah.
In the Summer of 2012 they will return to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for their third time in as many years.
The King's Chicks
The King's Chicks is an all-female a cappella group from King's College formed in 2007 by Alice Whiteley.In 2009, they released their debut album, Free Range and have continued to put on gigs all over London. In the summer of 2012, the Chicks were chosen to perform in the Olympic park on the day of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies for both the Olympics and the Paralympics. This was in partnership with Podium, a government body created to facilitate legacy opportunities with universities, colleges and schools. They have competed in the London Regional Round of the Voice Festival UK in 2011 and 2012 and made their debut appearance at Edinburgh Festival in 2012. In 2013, they competed in the Oxford Regional Round of the Voice Festival UK. Now called The Rolling Tones.
Imperial College London
The Techtonics is an all-male a cappella group from Imperial College London formed in the summer of 2008 by Christian Carter and Ed Brightman. The group became an immediate success on campus, coming second on Imperial Idol 2009, and appearing alongside Athlete and Noel Fielding at Imperial's Summer Ball that year.
In 2010, they participated in the Cambridge semifinal of the Voice Festival UK, and Carter received the award for 'Outstanding Arrangement' of Robbie Williams' "Come Undone". The following year, they competed in the newly formed London semifinal, and won the award for 'Outstanding Performance'.
The group took a show to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for a week in the summer of 2010 and sold out on their final performance. They recorded an album in 2010 and regularly busk on Portobello Road on a Saturday morning.
Between 28 August and 4 September 2011, the group embarked upon a tour of Croatia alongside the Imperial College Chamber Choir, and competed in the Vocal Marathon a cappella competition. They were described as "setting the audience on fire" and bringing a "fresh and positive energy" to the competition.
The group competed in the London Regional Round of the Voice Festival UK 2012, claiming awards for 'Outstanding Performance' and 'Outstanding Soloist'.
Harmaphrodite is a group formed in 2006 by Jessica Gillingwater. The group have performed at Exhibition Road Music Day in 2006 and 2007. They competed in the Voice Festival 2011 in the London Regional Round.
Imperielles is an all-female group formed in late 2011. They competed in Voice Festival UK in March 2012.
The Scopes, formerly Kaleidoscope, is a mixed group of eight, formed in 2011.
Apex Beats are a group of medical students formed in 2009. They perform mainly at ICSMSU events and perform a mixture of classic Barbershop, a cappella pop songs and Bollywood classics.
Royal Holloway, University of London
Absolute Harmony is a mixed-voice a cappella group formed in 1997 at Royal Holloway, University of London as 'Alternative Harmony' by Regina Yau, who didn't feel there was much opportunity for the average student to sing in an informal, unauditioned choir. After the group disintegrated somewhat due to Yau taking a year abroad, she returned, influenced by several American collegiate a cappella groups and decided to convert the group into an a cappella group, with a smaller group of members meeting more often to form 'Absolute Harmony'. The group was instrumental in the inauguration of the first ever British Inter-collegiate Contemporary Championship of A Cappella (BICCAs).
Eventually the name of the entire group changed to 'Absolute Harmony', with a smaller group, 'Hardcore Harmony', meeting more regularly to work towards competitions.
University of Bristol
TUBBS A Cappella
The University of Bristol Barbershop / A Cappella Singers is a society formed in 2007 at the University of Bristol by Iain Hallam, from an earlier quartet, to act as an umbrella group supporting "non-classical" a cappella singing. There are three main unauditioned choruses (for upper, lower and mixed voices) and the auditioned chorus listed below, plus numerous quartets and smaller ensembles. Several member quartets have competed at the national barbershop finals, with Park Street and Patchwork qualifying to represent the UK at international competitions.
HotTUBBS is an auditioned a cappella chorus contained within TUBBS A Cappella. Formed in 2008, they have won medals at the Manchester Amateur Choral Competition and Oxford Music Festival, and appeared at many other events, such as the Voice Festival UK 2012.
The Bristol Suspensions
The Bristol Suspensions are a mixed voice a cappella group formed in October 2014 by Joe Pickin, Eve Robertson, and Rafaella Barratt. They are part of BACS (Bristol A Cappella Society) and they sing a variety of songs, specialising in cheesy noughties pop. They are brand new and are hoping to record a CD and take a show up to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this summer. Bristol Suspensions Facebook Group
University of Glasgow
Choral Stimulation is a mixed-voice a cappella group from the University of Glasgow formed in 2008. Since 2010, they have competed in the Voice Festival UK at the St Andrews semifinal. In 2011, they won the award for 'Outstanding Performance' for their arrangement entitled "Night at the Movies", which incorporated theme tunes from several Hollywood blockbusters, including The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars and Pirates of the Caribbean. Became the first group outside of St Andrews to win the VF-UK Regional for Scotland in 2013 to go on to compete in London as well as picking up the award for 'Outstanding Arrangement'.
University of Leeds
The Songsmiths is University of Leeds' only a cappella group. They have performed at the British Heart Foundation Ball, various University Union events and at the Riley and JCR Awards. They have been very successful in the past two Voice Festival UK competitions; in 2012 winning Best Arrangement and in 2013 winning Best Soloist and Best Musicality. "Taking A Cappella to unreachable levels of intimacy" - The Songsmiths (2013) http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Songsmiths-Leeds-University-Union-A-Cappella-Society/347929551913775
University of Exeter
The Bluebelles are Exeter University's newest A Cappella group. Formed in September 2013 by Emily Turner-Cobb the Bluebelles are an all-female group that mainly sing jazz and female-barbershop.
The Sweet Nothings
The Sweet Nothings are an all-female group from Exeter University, who sing a range of pop and jazz songs. They were formed in 2006 and as such are the oldest group at the university. In 2009, they competed in the inaugural Voice Festival UK competition and in 2012 they competed again and won an award for 'Outstanding Performance' in the Bristol regional round.
In 2015, the Sweet Nothings have been chosen to participate in the Semi-Finals of the ICCAs Acapella Competition and are planning exciting things for the new year.
Semi-Toned is an all-male a cappella group who sing a variety of modern and classic songs. They were formed in the Autumn of 2010 by Eddie Henley, Jon Minter and Simon Eaton. They competed for the first time in the Voice Festival UK in 2012, winning both 'Outstanding Arrangement' and 'Outstanding Vocal Percussion'. In 2013 the group won the South West regional, advancing to the London final, as well as 'Outstanding Stagecraft and Choreography' and, once more, 'Outstanding Vocal Percussion'. Semi-Toned made their Edinburgh Fringe debut in 2013. Their show 'The Exe-Men' was successful, receiving multiple enthusiastic reviews in a Fringe that was not kind to A cappella groups. They continued their Edinburgh Fringe success with 2014's 'Toned Up' which saw a second five-star review from Broadway Baby and a prestigious 'Bobby' Award, the group becoming the first University ensemble and first A cappella group to achieve this.
In 2015 Semi-Toned will be participating in the Semi-Finals of the ICCAs and embarking on their first tour of the East Coast of the United States.
Take Note is an unauditioned mixed a cappella group.
Illuminations are a mixed a cappella group, formed by Emily Botsford and Charlotte Mckeown in October 2011, who sing music ranging from modern pop to 80's classics. In their 2012-2013 season the group performed for BBC's Children in Need and competed in their first Voice Festival UK, receiving a personal commendation for stagecraft.
Harmonics was formed in October 2012 by Charlotte Sidwell and Zoe Fitzsimmons, they specialize in classical and liturgical music and occasionally sing Evensong at Exeter Cathedral.
University of Aberdeen
Chordiac Arrest is the University of Aberdeen's first a cappella group. They were formed in the summer of 2011 by a group of medical students. Although they have performed at some events in Aberdeen, most recently being joint winners of the open Vocal Group class (V21) in the Aberdeenshire Music Festival, they have never entered the Voice Festival UK. They disbanded in the summer of 2012, as final year of medicine spread the group far and wide on rural placements. However a reunion of 6 members formed GCS-3 (the Gangster Coma Scales - 3) who performed at a Christmas Concert in 2012, with the American group Pentatonix as their inspiration.
In addition to this group something of an A Cappella revolution occurred at the medical school and two more groups started towards the end of 2012, namely The Ultrasounds and A Patella, under the guidance of Tim Lewis.
Aberpella are the University of Aberdeen's most prolific a cappella group. They were founded in 2011, alongside being the founding member of the AUSA (Aberdeen University Student Association) A Cappella Society. The group and society was founded by Nathan Chadwick. Aberpella took the university into the national competition, competing in the Voice Festival UK for the first time in 2012. In 2013, Aberpella's Victoria Metcalf won the honour of Best Solo Vocal Performance of the night. Aberpella drive to make a cappella to be a thriving part of the university culture at the University of Aberdeen and also Aberdeen's performance culture. The group are open to students from any discipline.
A-Patella is a mixed group of medical students at the University of Aberdeen. They were formed at the start of November 2012 and in their infancy co-hosted an A Cappella Christmas Concert after five weeks of practice. They are led by Sophie Pitts, assisted by Caitlin Hughes and Duncan Samuel.
The Aberdeen Ultrasounds
The Aberdeen Ultrasounds are a female group of medical students at the University of Aberdeen. They were formed at the start of November 2012 and in their infancy co-hosted an A Cappella Christmas Concert after five weeks of practice. They are led by Olivia France, assisted by Emma Humphries and Maddy Weller.
University of Bath
Aquapella are the University of Bath's first ever a cappella group. Founded by Civil Engineering student Andrew Hakes in 2011, they competed in the Voice Festival UK for the first time in 2012. Under the musical direction of Gabriella Monnington, who also writes most of their arrangements, they will return to the regional round Voice Festival UK at University of Exeter in 2013.
Bath Spa University
No Direction are a six-part all-male a cappella vocal ensemble who started in late 2012, and are the university's best acknowledged a cappella/barbershop group. The group formed during rehearsals for the university's production of The Magic Flute by Mozart, and since then have played in several venues around Bath. They have become well known for their comedic style, with several arrangements written by group members. Their repertoire has an extensive range, from classic, well-known songs such as 'The Longest Time' by Billy Joelto more modern songs such as 'Tribute' by Tenacious D and others, including some contemporary rap songs.
University of Manchester
Manchester University Barbershop Singers
The Manchester University Barbershop Singers is the main barbershop society at the University of Manchester, although it welcomes singers of all ages from around the Greater Manchester area. It originally started in 2010 as a men's chorus under the leadership of Antoine Kaiserman, and became a full University of Manchester Students' Union society in 2013 with the addition of a ladies' chorus, founded by Pippa Goodall in 2012. As of November 2013, the society has more than 50 regularly singing members. Society members have also attained success on the national stage both in quartets made up of MUBS members (Tagline, Encore), and also with other singers from across the country (The Emerald Guard, 2013 British Association of Barbershop Singers Gold Medal Quartet, Mach 4, 2012 Silver Medal Quartet). 2014 will also see the men's chorus, Mantunian Way, under the direction of Ben Ferguson, compete in the British Association of Barbershop Singers Chorus competition for the first time, and will also be the first University chorus to do so.
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