There’s a fair chance that St Mary’s Church has witnessed some jolly fine voices over the generations but perhaps tonight was the first time that 15 of them performed the Macarena complete with the obligatory dance moves. The group in question, Exeter University’s a capella fellas Semi-Toned, are having one hell (or maybe heaven in this case) of a year having come second in the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella competition before going on to win The Voice Festival UK, touring the US, playing the Edinburgh Festival and releasing a BuzzFeed bigged up video mash-up of If I Were a Rich man from Fiddler on the Roof and Rich Girl by Gwen Stefani. How’s that as an excuse for getting your dissertation in late eh?
Before all that the sell out audience...sorry...congregation witnessed a series of beautiful performances from Orchard Harmony (an all female a cappela group with its creative heart right here in Whimple) the absolute highlight being a candle lit Ava Maria sound-tracked procession through the church. Spines well and truly tingled. In fact, helmed by musical director Julia Green, the arrangements and staging of Orchard Harmony’s two sets were simply pitch perfect from start to finish.
Well and truly putting the fun in funky Semi-Toned practically blew the roof off the place with one of the liveliest and imaginative a capella sets this side of...well anywhere really.
Boy these dudes can sing (they’re not bad little movers either) and their choice of material was every bit as impressive ranging from a fresh take on Fleetwood Mac’s epic The Chain through to a haunting rendition of Regina Spector’s Samson (which apparently also won the Outstanding Soloist award for the group’s Michael Luya in The Voice Festival’s Semi-Final) and on to the aforementioned Fiddler mash up. A sensationally seasonal Santa Baby, with Julia channelling her inner Eartha up in the pulpit on lead vocals and the combined might of the rest of Orchard Harmony and all of Semi-Toned providing the backing, was the metaphorical sixpence in the pudding of a truly wonderful Whimple evening.