Voice Festival UK 2012 Preview – Part 2: St Andrews

A couple of days before Christmas, we here at the UK University A Cappella Blog received possibly the best Christmas present of them all – confirmed dates and competitors for this year’s Voice Festival UK. While it is the largest competition so far, with more groups than ever competing, one Regional Round has unfortunately been cancelled due to lack of competitors – that in Cambridge.

In this series of blogs, we will be previewing each individual Regional Round, commenting on each group and their chances of qualifying for the final, as well as introducing several groups that you might not yet have heard of.

In the second blog, we look at the other round that has existed since the inception of the Voice Festival in 2009 – that in St Andrews, taking place on March 3rd.

Potted History

Three groups have qualified for the final from the St Andrews round since 2009. The first two groups to do so were The Alleycats and The Other Guys in 2009, and in the following year The Alleycats repeated that feat, that time joined by The Accidentals, who were the sole qualifiers in last year’s competition. With no group dominating in past years, and with a lot of success for every group since last year’s competition, it’s definitely one of the rounds to watch this time round.

Notable Absence

The Forget-Me-Nots: Despite never having competed in the competition, there was talk of the Edinburgh girls competing in the Festival this year after a highly successful Free Fringe run. We wish the girls all the best of luck in the coming years, and hope they continue their flawless barbershop ways for some time, and hope to see them in the Voice Festival in the future!

Newcomer Alert

Aberpella: The sixth group to become part of the St Andrews Regional Round, and the second from outside the University of St Andrews, Aberpella are the only group from the University of Aberdeen and are competing for the very first time in the Voice Festival this year. They are very much an unknown quantity, but if you want to check them out, you can find them on YouTube.

Old-Timers

The Accidentals: The UK’s best all-female group are returning to defend that honour and perhaps go one step further this time out. The girls were the only group to progress from this round last year, but will be pushed all the way once again this year, with their challengers looking very good at the Christmas Concert earlier in the month. They lost several of their older members but did recruit and have kept their strong core of talent, so they will definitely be one to watch.

The Hummingbirds: The second all-girl group from St Andrews have been competing in the Voice Festival since its inception but have never qualified for the final. Is this the year they change that? They’ve recruited well and sounded good at the Christmas concert, but they do tend to lack the competitive edge that the other groups provide and this could hamper their chances. I’d love to see them prove me wrong though.

The Other Guys: Outside of Out of the Blue, The Other Guys have had the most success since last year’s Voice Festival, with the success of ‘Royal Romance’, their preceding album ‘Barely Regal’, and several prestigious gigs that have followed as a result. However, the core of that video-making group have graduated, and right now there are more new guys than guys who were in the group last year, and this could hinder their progress. They showed off their creative skills at the Christmas Concert earlier in the month with a hilarious Christmas parody, and may need to play to that strength in order to progress.

Choral Stimulation: The Glaswegian mixed group are competing for the third time, and they impressed last year, particularly with their award winning medley of movie themes. They have an infectious energy, but are somewhat of an unknown quantity, especially given they were unable to make the St Andrews Christmas Concert earlier in the month. If they play to their strengths, they could spring a surprise or two.

The Alleycats: St Andrews’ mixed group, they are very similar to Choral Stimulation in that they are bursting with energy, with the crucial difference being that they’ve made the final before – twice, in 2009 and 2010. This experience could come in handy, especially given they seem to have recruited very well in the new term. Definite contenders, they will be eager to make up for the disappointment of not qualifying last year.

Summary

One of the toughest rounds to call, in my opinion. The Alleycats are always right up there, The Accidentals are the current holders of this round and look strong again, The Other Guys’ considerable success since last year could hold them in good stead, and I think Choral Stimulation could do well this year, if they continue their positive development. I wouldn’t like to call it. I wish Aberpella good luck and hope they have a wonderful experience in their first year, and hope that they will be able to build and challenge in the future.

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