Sing: Ultimate A Cappella is designed to test the power and versatility of the human voice.

Image credit: Sky

University of Exeter a cappella groups take part in TV battle to win chance to record an album at Abbey Road

Two University of Exeter a cappella groups are battling on a new primetime TV show to win the chance to record an album at the famous Abbey Road studios.

Semi-Toned and the Illuminations are taking part in a new Sky One programme to find the country’s best vocal group. If successful they will also get the chance to release a Christmas single.

Sing: Ultimate A Cappella is designed to test the power and versatility of the human voice, with 30 groups using only beatboxing, harmonies, choreography to perform songs by artists from David Bowie to the Backstreet Boys.

The series, hosted by Cat Deeley, was recorded at the spectacular Troxy theatre in East London during the summer and will be airing weekly from Friday 6th October at 9pm on Sky One. It is billed as the UK’s first ever vocals-only entertainment competition with no backing tracks or instruments.

This isn’t Semi-Toned’s first foray into the world of TV. They were crowned winners of Gareth Malone’s UK-wide search for the nation’s best choir on BBC2 in December 2016. The group, now one of the country’s most established university a cappella ensembles, was formed in 2010 as a barbershop quintet. The current lineup, now 10-strong are aged 18 to 22. Semi-Toned, never seen without their signature burgundy blazers, have showcased their slick harmonies and dance moves throughout the UK and USA. They will appear on the first episode of the series.

The Illuminations have 14 members and are known for their amazing sound effects, including beatboxing, animal noises and sirens. They regularly perform in Exeter city centre and have only been competing in a cappella competitions for the past two years. This year they qualified for the semi-finals of the International Collegiate A Cappella Championship (ICCAs). They will perform on the programme on 3 November.

The groups, who both had shows at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this year, rehearse several times a week and regularly perform public gigs in Exeter.

During each episode of Sing: Ultimate A Cappella the groups will be judged on their vocals, musicality, interpretation and performance. In round one each group will perform a medley of two songs to impress the judges, after which one group will be eliminated. The remaining groups will then have to perform a hit from a musical icon, with two groups then being knocked out of the competition.The two remaining groups will then go head to head in the ‘Showstopper’ round. The victors from each of the six heats will then be pitted against each other in the grand final.

Illuminations Vice-producer, Emily Adams, who is studying English and is from South Wales, said: "It was such a great experience to be part of this TV show. We were nervous but so excited. We had a two-week bootcamp of intense practicing and it was so rewarding to be able to sing on stage to a brilliant audience. We can’t wait for everyone at home to watch us!"

Semi-Toned President, Henry Edwards, from Stratford-upon-Avon, who studies English and Drama, said: “Being part of the show was fantastic, but incredibly hard work. We’re really proud that we got picked to take part. We loved performing in The Troxy and getting the chance to sing some iconic songs in front of such an enthusiastic crowd. Meeting Cat Deeley was great too – she’s really friendly!”

Image credit: Sky

Date: 4 October 2017

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