This post was written by Leanne Fitzgerald, Mezzo Soprano with Ardú Vocal Ensemble, hosts of Ireland’s A Cappella Competition 2016.
A cappella music is one of the fastest growing forms of music performance in the world and this August the first A Cappella Competition was held in Dublin, Ireland.
Ireland’s A Cappella Competition is the brainchild of Ardú Vocal Ensemble, a mixed a cappella group of six singers from across Ireland and the UK. Since 2014, Ardú have pioneered the genre of a cappella music in Ireland with performances across the island and even represented Ireland abroad at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, London International A Cappella Choir Competition and the London A Cappella Festival 2016.
On Wednesday, 24 August, seven Irish ensembles competed for the winning title of Ireland’s A Cappella Competition which included a customized trophy along with a free recording session at Windmill Lane Recording Studios, recorded and produced by Dublin Studio Hub.
Opening the competition with an uplifting performance were Beating Time, a ladies barbershop chorus based in County Wicklow who specialize in close harmony four-part a cappella singing.
Following them were The Ramparts Chamber Choir, a new, young men’s barbershop group, directed by Ruaidhrí Ó Dálaigh, who won the hearts of the audience (and the audience prize) with their rendition of John Michael Montgomery’s “Sold.”
The youngest contestants on the night by a long shot were The Decibelles. This promising fourpiece female ensemble from Dublin gave a very charming and emotive performance of the Mumford and Sons tune “Timshel.”
The Kelly Family Vocal Ensemble is made up of Frank, Rebecca, Orlaith, Emily and John Kelly, to create a unique blend of voices because of their family relationship which has been honed since the young people were children. They entertained the audience on the night with one of the best known songs in the a cappella repertoire, “The Java Jive.”
Female a cappella group Síonra sang their own very fluid arrangement of The Beatles’ “Blackbird” and stunned the judges with a particularly beautiful performance of “August” by Michael McGlynn.
The Apple Blossoms are a bright and bubbly girl trio and finished the competition to rapturous applause. They performed an impressive medley, arranged by the ensemble themselves to include snippets from Fleur East’s “Sax” and Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass” to ultimately win the competition, in addition to earning joint Best Performance honors with The Ramparts Chamber Choir.
Other highlights from the night were a guest performance by adjudicators The Key Notes and an impromptu a cappella workshop by Ardú which culminated in a mass performance of Lorde’s “Royals” with all competing ensembles and the entire audience!
Ireland has a multitude of talented singers along with brilliant composers and arrangers. The audience for modern a cappella is primed, ready and waiting and events like Ireland’s A Cappella Competition could be the beginnings of a national platform for modern a cappella singing in the future.