Sarah Gharib, our Music editor, previews the Scottish A Cappella Championships this Friday, March 4th.


Now in its third year, the Scottish A Cappella Championships bring together university a cappella groups from all around Scotland. This year, nine groups will be competing for the title of Scottish Champions, as well as a £1000 prize. There will be six groups from St Andrews, two from the University of Aberdeen, and, a new addition for this year, a group from the University of Edinburgh.

This year, the judges are Bede Williams, a teaching fellow at the University of St Andrews and a professional conductor and musician, Joanne Evans, the youngest judge and a member of the cast of the new a cappella musical Gobsmacked, and Andrew Panton, the artistic director of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and a judge on the BBC2 programme The Naked Choir.

We sat down with three distinguished participants in the A Cappella competition: Joe Revell, Tenor and Musical Director of The Alleycats, Emma Greer, Soprano in the Hummingbirds, and Joanna Burns, Soprano in The Accidentals.


What is there to look forward to in the Competition?

Joe: Competitions are the time when groups get to show off with a strong performance. It’s a great time for people who’ve seen A Cappella before to see something more exciting than a regular set and for newbies to get the best that all the groups have to offer.

Emma: All the best groups in Scotland are competing and everyone has been working so hard on their sets so it will be an amazing night of music! We have some incredible judges and we’ll have a set from Blind Mirth as well, so there is something for everyone.

Joanna: We have two new groups competing this year, The Vocal Bandits from the University of St Andrews and Tone-up from the University of Edinburgh. With nine groups this year, the audience will get to see such a range of styles; it will definitely be a very entertaining night.


What are some standout tracks that the audience should look out for in your set?

Joe: Our standout track is a version of ‘Hello’ by Adele.  With our track ‘New Cat,’ Lucy Bishop won outstanding solo performance last weekend at the ICCA semi-final for that so we have it on good authority that it’s good. That aside, I’d like to think that the rest of the set more than matches up to it!

Emma: We have a really eclectic set this year – we love all of our songs but my absolute favourite is an arrangement of an Alt-j song. There’s a part towards the end that gives me goosebumps every time we sing it!

Joanna: I’m not going to reveal any song names from our set but it will be full of sass, girl power and fun! We have a real range of genres and styles within our set this year and we really want to bring the energy throughout! Hopefully everyone in the audience will get into it and vibe off that energy and confidence!


What are your aims for this competition?

Joe: Our aim is to be faithful to our audience and give them a really exciting and top quality experience. We’ve never played to the judges in competitions, our aim is to always to make sure the public leave feeling like they’ve seen the best from us.

Emma: Our aim is to build on what we achieved last year – we won Best Choreography last year so we’ve been working extra hard on that again! We’re mainly just really excited for everyone to see our set; we hope the audience will love it as much as we do!

Joanna: We’re there to defend our title after winning the competition last year but we also just want to show off what we’ve been working so hard on this year. Our set is very unique and original so we can’t wait for everyone in St Andrews to hear it.


Why should people attend the competition?

Joe: People should come because it’s shockingly cheap entertainment and a great atmosphere! The standard is always really high and this year should be no different!

Emma: They should attend because it’s a chance not only to see St Andrews groups perform, but also groups from further away. It’s a great opportunity to see the best Scotland has to offer! Nine groups are performing and tickets only cost £5 – what more could you want from a Friday night?!

Joanna: A Cappella has always been a big thing in St Andrews but, over the last few years, the talent and the standard of the groups has just skyrocketed so the competition is an amazing opportunity to see all the groups together.  We also have amazing judges this year and having such talented and well renowned judges will definitely spur all the groups on to work harder so the standard will be unbelievable this year.


Without a doubt, this event will be a massive success and it will surpass all expectations, blowing everything we’ve seen before out of the water. Make sure to get yourself a ticket and see what Scotland’s best A Cappella groups have to offer!



Sarah Gharib