HomeHitting the right note: the aca-people behind a cappella

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A hugely popular phenomenon in the US, the university a cappella craze has spent the last decade steadily spreading across the UK. Glee helped to boost it; so did 2012 film Pitch Perfect – and it seems now that the genre has reached its peak. Known for an inexplicable level of competitiveness for such a light-hearted craft, the UK scene is at its biggest here in Oxford, with seven full-sized, and very popular, a cappella groups.

Out of the Blue is the most successful group in the city; all-male and relentlessly serious about their professionalism, they performed at the Edinburgh Fringe this year to a 500-capacity venue. Also at Edinburgh this year were the mixed-gender jazz-specific Gargoyles; the The Alternotives, Oxford’s oldest group; and the all-female In The Pink. In The Pink’s fellow female group, The Oxford Belles, weren’t up there this year, but have been in previous years. The Ultrasounds, Oxford only all-male all-medic group, always perform in scrubs and are, by their own admission, “Oxford’s most amateurish a cappella group”; and there is Resound, a new ‘supergroup’ (as one singer described it to me) formed by an ex-member of the Gargoyles and Out of the Blue, and made up of hand-picked voices from across Oxford. Resound hasn’t made any music yet, so I can’t comment on its alleged superiority.

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