24/7 A Cappella – Paul Smith’s Tour Report
Monday: Got back from opening a choral festival and performing with 5 choirs from Spain and the Canary Islands at 1:30am! A fantastic couple of days that had included a full concert recorded for Spanish National Radio, and set in beautiful Pamplona. All the choirs were competing for prizes, and we were there to sing a couple of concerts for them – it was great to spend time with so many passionate singers.
Arrive for an a cappella festival day in Brighton with about 230 singers from 8 different choral groups at 9:30am – really in need of a few cups of coffee! Different members of VOCES8 work all day with different groups, and we also rehearse a couple of joint numbers. The evening concert is hosted by VOCES8, and we sing a couple of numbers, but we really enjoy listening to the great performances put together by all of the different vocal groups – with student ages ranging from 6 to 18. The packed out concert venue rises as one to applaud the hundreds of young singers.
We head home to try and get some sleep despite the adrenaline that’s still pumping through our bodies.
Tuesday: The group is off to Cardiff University for a composition masterclass with the Phd students and an evening concert. A hundred miles into the journey, the VOCES Mobile breaks down! Quick calls, roadside assistance, hire cars and we still make it for the start of the session – just. We spend a few hours working with the students on their contemporary compositions, talking about how we as singers and performers would approach their music, and then we prepare to give a concert. It’s Andrea’s old university, so a very special day for her. A great reception from the students, and we enjoy drinks with some of the faculty staff and students after the concert.
Wednesday: Up to Bedford today for workshops with 12 vocal groups in the county. VOCES8 members are spread far and wide as we help students and vocal groups prepare for the ‘B Festival’ which takes place at the end of April. Top prize for the competing groups this year is free recording studio time, so all of the 300 or so performers are getting very excited and working really hard for the big day. And, to make the B Festival even better, we’re going to be joined this year by our good friend, and world class beatboxer, RoxorLoops, as well as one of the newest, hottest groups on the a cappella scene, Apollo 5 (www.apollo5.co). It’s going to be quite a night!
Thursday: Into Hackney in London for another end of project performance day with 8 choirs from schools in the borough. About 250 students join us for the afternoon, rehearsing songs with their VOCES8 mentors and then spending some time practicing as a massed choir. The concert is a great success, but
VOCES8 don’t stay for any post concert drinks tonight, as we have to be up at 3:30am to go to….
Friday: Nigeria. Oh my god! We head out to Lagos via Amsterdam. It turns out that one of the people who has booked us is a senior director for KLM.
Great flight. We arrive, are met by US Embassy staff and a security team and driven straight to a champagne reception hosted by the MD of Heineken in Nigeria. It’s amazing to see the group perk up at the sight of the champagne after 13 hours of travelling…
Saturday: We spend the morning working with some students to prepare them for their evening performance with us, before heading to the US Consulate General’s residency to prepare for the evening performance. Hours of sound testing for the outdoor event in 33 degree heat leaves us with a tan! The event is sponsored by Moët & Chandon and Heineken, so it’s bound to be a good night! 400 guests arrive in black tie and, along with all of us, make it through many levels of security checks. The event is so stylish – a stunningly beautiful setting on the waterfront and a night to remember.
Everyone at the event seems to enjoy a cappella music (and a few were rather new to it!)… and James Bond tunes in particular go down well. Fireworks finish the night (accompanied by the Star Wars theme!) and, as if it couldn’t get any better, I win VIP tickets to the Nigerian Cup Final! I don’t think I can make it…
Sunday: Up early (for an a cappella group) and we’re all smiles, as we get driven straight to the Lagos Boat Club, loaded onto the Shell and Heineken speed boats and, in minutes, we’re loving the feel of the wind in our hair as we pass through the amazing harbour, the numerous abandoned tankers and out towards the beach paradise beyond. After the week we’ve had, it seems like the perfect place to unwind for a few hours. We spend the day sipping yet more champagne and enjoying time with our new friends from Lagos. In the last couple of weeks, we’ve performed in Spain, across the UK and in Nigeria, and worked with over 40 vocal groups – and more than 1000 singers – along the way.
And that’s why we love the world of a cappella!
I’m pretty sure that many of my readers also experience amazing things while being on tour, on stage, backstage and elsewhere in #acappelland. Let us know about it and become a Vocal Blog guest blogger. Feel free to send me your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org – really looking forward to your stories!