The final day of the Summer School commenced with performances from the Vocal composition group, and I think it’s safe to say everyone was blown away! The majority of students within this group had never written specifically for the voice before (as in, entirely for the voice – the only other instrument used was a vocal sampler), so this was their first time! The quality of the pieces, however, strongly suggested otherwise.

At the start of the week, the students picked a text to base the lyrical subject matter of their piece on. These texts not only varied in format (from poetry to theatre), but also in language – one piece combined English and French! The orchestration of the pieces also varied, as the students had access to the following professionals; Anna Snow and Sarah Dacey of experimental a cappella trio, ‘Juice’, vocalist/songwriter/arranger Ben See, composer Edwin Hiller, and actor/composer/writer Ollie Kaiper-Leach!

We were treated to pieces that involved the entire group of students too. One piece used the group as a body-percussion ensemble, providing a back beat to song. Another involved the students and tutors surrounding the audience and producing low murmurs and hums intermittently, creating a 360 soundscape that swallowed the room (the result was quite disorienting!) The majority used the wonderful vocal ranges of Kerry, Juice, Ben, Ollie and Edwin, exploring their unified harmony, dynamics and other musical characteristics to produce moving pieces.

It was a joy for all to be in attendance of these performances. Congratulations to all the vocal composers!