February 20, 2019
Writer: Virginia Henry
A cappella groups are becoming more and more popular. With the show “The Sing Off” and the rise of Pentatonix almost everyone has heard an a cappella rendition of a song. Singing a cappella is an entirely different experience from singing while accompanied by instruments.
VOCES8 is an eight-person a cappella group based in the U.K. Their repertoire is different from mainstream groups like Pentatonix, but they have a lot to offer.
“In England we have this great tradition where mainly boys and also more and more girls can sing in cathedrals from the age of 7 and have almost a professional life in music from that age,” said Chris Moore, a baritone in the group.
Out of the eight singers in the group, seven of them have grown up with this kind of experience.
“We are all classically trained,” Moore said.
The group itself has been active for 13 years. Barnaby Smith founded the group with his brother and several other friends.
“Well, it was actually an accident,” Smith said. He and his friends had been singing in choirs together for some time. When they got a little too old for the young choirs they would sing together for charities and things of that nature. Somehow, Smith said he’s not sure how it happened, they got invited to a competition in Italy. They were told everything would be paid for, so they thought why not?
“When we got there, we realized it was really quite a serious competition,” Smith said. “So, we did some practice and we actually won the competition.”
Smith said after winning the competition offers to perform came rolling in the hundreds. It was at that point that Smith and his brother decided they ought to give making it a profession a shot.
Smith is now the only original group member left. He sings countertenor for the group.
Moore is the newest member of the group. He’s been with VOCES8 for about five months.
“I was in my final year of university in the U.K. and I auditioned during that and here I am now,” Moore said.
Smith clarified, “Chris is very modest he actually passed a very difficult audition process.”
With the group becoming more and more well-known, each time they hold auditions the competition gets harder and harder.
When it comes to what they each prefer to sing they are similar in their tastes.
“I do come from the classical and church choral tradition, as do most of the group, so I enjoy when we do that stuff and we do it well,” Moore said.
“My favorite piece that we sing which is called ‘Oh Clap Your Hands’,” Smith said. That piece was composed almost 500 years ago.
One of the members is American and has helped expose the other members of the group to American a cappella.
“The range of what we do is what I find particularly exciting, especially because we have a range of skill sets in the group,” Smith said.
Singing isn’t all that they do or all that’s important to this acapella group.
“When we started the group, we of course had this dream to do what we do now which is to travel around the world singing in great concert halls to lovely audiences,” Smith said. “We also wanted to try and offer a little bit back we feel very lucky for the opportunities we had when we were younger. We’re also aware that around the world really music, especially in the curriculum, seems to be less and less a subject that people either take or are offered and we want to try and reverse that if we can because there is so much science that tells us that a little bit of music everyday helps the development of young people across the whole curriculum.”
They created a foundation at the same time they started in order to accomplish these goals. Through their foundation they teach, help, and offer resources to people of all levels of experiences. To check out their foundation visit vcmusa.org.