Edward Randell (Bass Singer in the Swingle Singers) writes:
Looking at the line-up for the London A Cappella Festival this January, I’m reminded that “a cappella” isn’t really a genre. It’s an arrangement choice; an approach; a way to show love to the instrument we were all born with – but it can be applied to just about any musical style. Over three days at Kings Place, this year’s LACF celebrates every noise the human mouth can make, from lush choral music (The Choir of Clare College Cambridge), via transcendent Finnish folk (Rajaton) and turbo-powered 1980s pop (Retrocity) all the way to cutting-edge electronica (the “e-cappella” of Denmark’s Postyr Project). Not to mention the homegrown talent: The King’s Singers, The Magnets and (ahem) The Swingle Singers.
Such an eclectic festival is an apt occasion for the Swingles to launch our 50th anniversary celebrations. Ever since a group of Parisian session singers released the groundbreaking and genre-busting Jazz Sébastien Bach, our history has embraced a vast array of styles. How best to honour a half-decade of music that has spanned crossover hits, avant-garde masterpieces and contemporary pop? It’s a question we ask ourselves all the time, and I suspect the answer doesn’t lie in baroque fugues – though we still love to sing those too. Rather, we try to pay tribute to the 1960s Swingle Singers by continuing to innovate and to explore the full, amazing potential of the voice. Again, it’s an approach, an attitude.
There is something very particular about singing in an ensemble. Without wishing to get too mystical, there’s a vibration that happens, a feeling of kinship that – if you’re lucky – resonates not just among the singers but out into the audience and the wider community. Each year since it began in 2009, the London A Cappella Festival has built on that sense of fellowship by creating more opportunities for participation through workshops, discussions, open-stage performances, after-parties and scratch groups such as The Single (sic) Singers, and this year, my own pet project, a bass-only choir called WOOFER. We hope you’ll join us.