St Andrews Voices is the only Scottish festival, and one of only a handful worldwide, to focus on the voice and especially on vocal and choral music. It takes place in the historic town of St Andrews from 22 - 25 October, 2015.
Four years after its creation, the festival continues to showcase the versatility of the voice in a wide array of genres, from opera and a cappella groups to cabaret acts, storytelling and baroque choirs. The festival’s passion for engaging audiences of all ages and interests is reflected in this year’s programme which includes a lieder masterclass, songs and stories for children and talks by renowned authors, alongside concerts and recitals of the highest quality.
The festival’s Artistic Director, Sonia Stevenson, said, “St Andrews Voices returns this October with a smorgasbord of vocal and choral delights. Now in its fourth year, I've been delighted with the reaction to this unique festival and the growing recognition of our high-quality, diverse offering. This year is no exception. With events featuring today's most renowned performers - including John Mark Ainsley, Voces8, Scottish Opera and Patricia Hodge - masterclasses, workshops, family events and, new for this year, a literary strand, this is sure to be one of our most exciting festivals yet. Join us on this journey of vocal discovery in one of Scotland's most picturesque towns.”
The festival opens on Thursday 22 October with events focussing on young talent supported by the Fidelio Charitable Trust. The first is an afternoon masterclass in which renowned British tenor John Mark Ainsley shares his expertise with the most promising singers from Scottish universities. In the evening, choral composer Philip Stopford leads a workshop on successful choral composition, with vocal ensemble Voces8 performing compositions submitted by students.
The evening of Friday 23 October sees a Younger Hall recital of Lieder, chansons and songs inspired by Shakespeare by John Mark Ainsley. This event, supported by The Cookie Matheson Trust, will be accompanied by the young South African pianist James Baillieu. The festival then moves to one of the most atmospheric venues in the town, All Saints Church, for a late-night concert. Acclaimed vocal ensemble Voces8 perform choral masterpieces from the earliest chant and polyphonic music of Tallis and Byrd, to more modern works by Tavener and the World Premiere of a St Andrews Voices commission by Philip Stopford.
Saturday 24 October begins with a film screening of Disney’s The Jungle Book in the Byre Theatre, with a warm-up led by Scotland’s premier all-male a cappella group, The Other Guys, who perform their own arrangements of songs from the film.
In a morning literary event at Hotel du Vin, Scottish author Janice Galloway discusses how music and opera influenced her latest collection of short stories. Scientist Dr Alan Watson then explores the science behind the most unique sounds of the human voice, from castrati to Mongolian throat singing.
On Saturday afternoon, Voces8 return with two of the University of St Andrews’ renowned a cappella groups, The Other Guys and The Alleycats presenting an eclectic mix of vocal percussion, Renaissance music and jazz and pop arrangements. This event is supported by J Michael Buchanan.
Scottish Opera bring their touring production of Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte to The Byre Theatre to close Saturday’s events. Set in 1950s Italy, directed by Lissa Lorenzo and designed by Robbie Sinnott, the cast features 2015/16 Scottish Opera Emerging Artist, and St Andrews graduate, Ben McAteer. This performance is supported by The Alexander Gibson Circle.
For the last day, Sunday 25 October, we visit a new venue: the independent bookshop of Topping & Co, where author Emily Dodd will host a morning of songs and stories for children.
The festival also joins the University’s traditional Sunday morning service in the medieval Chapel of St Salvator. During this service, the chapel’s flagship choir, recently returned from tours in the USA and The Netherlands, sing J.S. Bach’s cantata ‘Christ Lag in Todesbanden,’ BWV 4. The service will be led by University Chaplain, the Rev Dr Donald MacEwan.
The Festival’s finale features an exclusive appearance by star duo Patricia Hodge and pianist Jonathan Cohen, in an afternoon of cabaret songs in The Byre Theatre. Most recently recognised from BBC’s ‘Miranda’ series, Patricia Hodge is one of the UKs best-known actors, whilst acclaimed pianist Jonathan Cohen is well-known to audiences from his long career on television presenting programmes such as Play Away, Playschool and Music Time.
St Andrews Voices acknowledges support from Fife Council Strategic Events Investment Programme, the University of St Andrews, Stayinstandrews.com, Scotland Sings, The Byre Theatre, Scottish Opera and its Supporting Voices patrons.
Linda Temple, Fife Council’s Cultural Partnerships & Events Strategy Manager said “We are delighted to see the launch of this very exciting programme for this year’s St Andrews Voices. As one of Fife’s strategic events we have been supporting over the past 4 years, it is impressive to see the quality and breadth of the programme which will undoubtedly see the on-going success of this relatively new festival”.