A cappella Christmas concert

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Featuring new a cappella group the Belles and two guest performances from outside St Andrews, this year’s Christmas concert is already set to be better than the last, according to the A Cappella Society’s president, Mark Gregory. Also new is that it will be split into two different concerts, on Wednesday 27 November and Thursday 28, owing to the fact that there will be eight acts, as opposed to last year’s five.

The special guests include Choral Stimulation, from Glasgow, who are performing tonight with The Other Guys, The Hummingbirds and the Vocal Bandits; and All the King’s Men from King’s College, who were scheduled to perform on Wednesday night along with the Alleycats, The Accidentals and the newly formed Belles.

Returning students may remember Choral Stimulation from last year’s performance of Lonely Island’s I’ve Just Had Sex, during which they threw condoms into the crowd. All the King’s Men, who are former Voice Festival UK winners, have also been to a cappella competition finals in the US. All the King’s Men’s visit is a first for the St Andrews a cappella scene, as they will be the first group from outside of Scotland to come and perform.

In addition to being the A Cappella Society’s president Mark is also a member of The Other Guys, who at the time of the interview still hadn’t decided on a set list because the preparations for their US tour are somewhat dominating their rehearsals. Other Guys fans should fear not, however, as Mark confirmed that the group would be preparing for this concert just as they would for any other: by making sure that everything is “musically tight and precise.” The set will mainly consist of Christmas songs they’ve already performed, but there will also be others that have yet to be heard live.

In celebration of their 10th anniversary, The Other Guys are taking a US tour in January 2014, which will consist of a two week spread in New York and Boston. In describing the anticipation he feels toward the upcoming trip, Mark said he’s “never been more excited about anything in [his] entire life.” In New York, The Other Guys are slated to play with the New York Glee Club in the Lincoln Center, a venue of 3,000 seats, the largest audience The Other Guys will have played for. Mark said he “feels quite lucky to have been in the group when it got it’s big break,” meaning the music video Royal Romance, which has nearly 900,000 views on YouTube. He credits much of the upcoming tour to the internet attention of Royal Romance, which has helped to give them the funding and recognition necessary for the tour.

Being a member of an a cappella group has given Mark a multitude of other opportunities, including performing for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Hillary Clinton at the honorary graduation ceremony, and celebrities such as Hugh Grant and Luke Wilson at the Dunhill Links tournament. But Mark lists the one favourite moment of his a cappella career as when The Other Guys went to the Sands Grill at the Old Course after performing for Dunhill and drank and sang with Bill Murray, star of films such as Ghostbusters, Moonrise Kingdom and Lost in Translation. Mark describes this moment as “one of the most surreal but awesome experiences of [his] whole life.”

Mark describes the current St Andrews a cappella scene as “brilliant” and that the competition is minimal because, according to him, “[they] all have a passion for the same thing, so it’s nice to share that.”

St Andrews boasts the largest number of a cappella groups of any university. With six of the seven performing, you’ll want to be in Venue 1 tonight!

Photo credit: Jessica Biggs

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