The sweeping fame of all male a capella group, Out of the Blue, who were recently retweeted by Shakira, has put Oxford a capella on the map. With multiple groups around the university, there is something to cater to everyone’s tastes. In The Pink are the female counterparts of Out of the Blue, and along with the all-female group The Oxford Belles and the mixed group The Alternotives, they cover a range of music, from classic favourites to contemporary chart hits. ‘The Oxford Gargoyles’ are another a capella group who offer a jazz alternative to this.
Talking to the musical director of In the Pink, Amelia, and their president, Emily, we learn how to get involved in the a capella world of Oxford. Most auditions take place at the beginning of the academic year, but keep an eye out for auditions happening during the year, and don’t be afraid to email the groups to ask if they might have further spaces. In general, Emily encourages budding acapella enthusiasts to “just go for it. A lot of people worry about sight-reading and are too scared to audition, but this is something you can definitely learn and work on.” For those who are less well versed in a capella, the group’s website and YouTube channel is a great way to see what they do and whether you would like to be involved.
Of course it is important not to forget that “a capella can be hard work”, as Amelia adds. As Anna Kendrick conducts people in Pitch Perfect harmony on their first try, it is easy to think that every rehearsal will be just that easy. Though ‘In The Pink’ doesn’t involve any horizontal running cardio sessions, there is a lot of music to learn, alongside new choreography and nuanced harmonies. Ultimately though, ‘In The Pink’ is all about having fun and enjoying yourself, and with a great social side to it; “We have made some of our best friends in the group,” both girls say.
“We use a variety of different techniques to learn new music”, says Emily, from learning music by ear, to sight-reading new music. The group use arrangements written by others, as well as ones written by their own members. “Recently we have been focusing on jamming together to create new arrangements,” adds Amelia, so that all the members work together, listening to what sounds best and creating the arrangement themselves as they rehearse.
Rehearsals occur twice a week, as well as numerous gigs over the course of term, including balls, charity gigs, and weddings. The group also offers the chance to go to the renowned Edinburgh Fringe Festival to perform their own show.
They recall a favourite gig in which they were asked to sing the Pitch Perfect mashup of ‘Just the Way You Are’ and ‘Just a Dream’, as the bride, just married, turned down the aisle arm in arm with her new husband, who arranged the performance as a surprise for her. It seems, then, that a capella offers the perfect chance to sing and dance with amazing performance opportunities thrown in too!