Every October, the town of St Andrews sings. Despite what you might be thinking, I’m not talking about the distinctive whistle of that icy northern wind, nor I am referring to the cries of excitement muffled by a glob of shaving foam to the mouth on Raisin Monday — no. The melodic, powerful sound I am referring to is that which emerges from the singers of St Andrews Voices, Scotland’s singing festival. First created in 2012 by Artistic Director Sonia Stevenson, the festival partners with the University of St Andrews to bring together a diverse group of the finest musical talents from around the world showcasing the power of song to connect us as humans. This year will feature music that highlights themes of pilgrimage. St Andrews Voices is a celebration of togetherness expressed in song, and in the current COVID-19 pandemic, it is time to journey back to each other. From 13 to 17 October, 2021, the town of St Andrews will host 13 renowned singers performing songs from a variety of genres including choral, cabaret, jazz and opera.
From the University of St Andrews’ Laidlaw Music Centre to Holy Trinity Church to Microsoft Teams, there is somewhere for everyone to come together and hear the melodic stories told by the members of St Andrews Voices.
If listening to choral music brings you joy, you might consider attending the St Andrews chapel choir on Wednesday 13 October at 1:10 pm in the McPherson Recital Room, on Friday 15 October at 5:30 pm in St Salvator’s Chapel or on Sunday 17 October at 11 am, also in St Salvator’s Chapel.
If a more intimate setting is your jam, find Christine Bovill in St Leonard’s School Hall on Thursday 14 October at 7:30 pm for Café Cabaret and take a journey back to “a Parisian scented twilight world”, or listen to Georgia Cecile Quintet’s jazz debut album the very next day on 15 October at 7:30 pm in the Laidlaw Music Centre.
To support and listen to your peers, attend a lunchtime Concert on Friday 15 October at 1:10 pm in the Laidlaw Music Centre, which will be “raising money for Music in Hospitals and Care Scotland.”
St Andrews Voices also highlights singers who are passionate about expressing wider themes close to their hearts. If you feel the same, listen to Ankna Arockaim, Edward Cohen and Hardeep Deerhe “explore a woman’s journey by bringing underrepresented composers to light” in their creation “Saanjh” (which translates as dusk in Hindi) on Saturday 16 October at 4 pm in the Laidlaw Music Centre. Additionally, Dunedin Consort, Andrew McTaggart & Timothy Dean, and Mary Ann Kennedy bring in themes of nature to their performances. Consort reflects on music’s connection with nature and “how the arts can both reflect and inspire environmental concerns’’ on Sunday 17 October at 3 pm in Holy Trinity Church while McTaggart’s & Dean’s uplifting “‘A Landscape of Song’… presents a journey of English song including Finizi’s ‘Earth and Air and Rain’”, also on Sunday 17 October at 5:30 pm in the Laidlaw Music Centre. Kennedy’s performance is inspired by her traill (Gaelic for journey) from Iona to St Andrews and the “choirs and singers along the way” which you can experience yourself on Saturday 16 October at 7:30 pm in the Laidlaw Music Centre.
Indeed, if you love listening to vocal performances and are interested in singing with and learning from the best, wander over to the Laidlaw Music Centre on Friday 15 October to enjoy an afternoon of “musical discovery” with Grammy Award-winning mezzo-soprano, Lucy Schaufer. Or, if you are curious about working on your vocal instrument health or need a choral refresher, join Voices’ accredited Vocal Health Leader on Zoom on Saturday 16 October at 11 am. Finally, if you are passionate about how singing impacts health and wellbeing, join Rachel from the British Lung Foundation at Sing to Beat, taking place on Zoom on Saturday 16 October at 2 pm.
With such a range of genres, venues and content there is truly something for everyone in this five-day celebration of voices. From acclaimed acts to world-leading performances, just bring yourself, your ears and come along on this “journey of musical discovery”.