Week 11 in dreary November. Deadlines are calling and St Andrews is getting a little bit more grey everyday. In truth, it feels nothing like Christmas. Yet somehow, in the darkest despairs of November, St Andrews A Capella Society’s Christmas Concert lifted spirits. Hosted by The St Andrews Revue, the concert brought light and joy to an extremely cold and dreary Sunday. The event was not to be missed.
In music circles, St Andrews is often referred to as ‘The Singing University’ and Sunday night’s concert was testament to this. With a programme of music of all genres, the concert stood as a record of how the A Cappella groups have been fairing over the semester with their new members and what we can expect from them all in 2016. It’s clear to see that a lot of positive progress has been made over the past two months.
The audience was treated to some imaginative and creative arrangements. The Belles and Beaus put their own spin on Fleet Foxes’ “White Winter Hymnal”. This was an excellent song choice; with rhythmic energy their arrangement differed greatly from the original and popular covers showing their creative flair. This creative flair was also seen in The Vocal Bandits who tackled some technically demanding arrangements with confidence. Their rendition of “Carol of the Bells” was particularly well met by the audience. The Alleycats filled the stage with exuberant and infectious energy. They celebrated Christmas with a warm and hearty tribute to the late great Andy Williams‘ “It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year”. If you weren’t feeling ready for Christmas yet, you certainly were by the end of their set. Of course, no A Cappella concert in St Andrews would be complete without an appearance from The Other Guys. Stalwarts of the St Andrews A Cappella scene, they wowed once more, allowing their charm and humour to shine through their performances. Their opening mash up of Christmas favorites delighted the audience and was met with rapturous applause. T.O.G may be ten years old, but their magic hasn’t faded.
The level of talent was exceptionally high from all groups both auditioned and unauditioned. While every performance was well arranged there were some stand out performances that should be noted for their consummate musicality. The Hummingbirds’ arrangement of “What Kind of Man” demonstrated exceptional tightly arranged vocal harmony, producing a mesmerizing crisp sound. This vocal quality was not only telling of a good arrangement but of the vocalists’ talent in being able to blend their voices successfully. Likewise, The Accidentals’ arrangement of Joni Mitchell’s “River” was sublime and well chosen given the time of year. Covers of Mitchell’s work are often stilted and struggle to capture the emotional quality of her original recordings but this was not the case with The Accidentals’ performance. While other songs may have exuded in energy, this simplistic performance would have been hard to better and should be considered as the stand out performance of the night.
Sunday night’s concert may have been fun, frivolous and at times verging on the silly, but the A Cappella Society’s approach to their music is certainly not. These talented groups are rising from strength to strength. 2016 looks nothing but rosy for all of them and we wish them every success.