Dom Peckham in 'The Naked Choir', BBC2 a capella series

29th October 2015

Ingenium choral conductor and workshop leader Dominic Peckham appeared alongside Gareth Malone as Lead Mentor to the competing groups in ‘The Naked Choir”, BBC television’s recent series about a capella choirs.

 

We are extremely proud of Dom for his work on BBC2 and TwentyTwenty Television’s recent programme as Lead Mentor! Dom took a hands-on, one-on-one approach to developing the singers as they prepared to compete in the live final, which aired nationally on Tuesday.

 

Dom says, "It was an absolute thrill to be involved in mentoring these amazing groups. [They] are all so dedicated and talented and its been wonderful to see them grow collectively and as individuals throughout this unique process"

 

 

Above: Dominic Peckham directing the Ingenium Academy choir in concert at Winchester College

 

At the Ingenium Academy 2015 earlier this year Dominic worked on a full programme of nine pieces of a capella music with our choir, ranging from American spiritual and Irish folk song to ancient music from the 12th Century.

 

Watch the Sons of Pitches' winning performance on 'The Naked Choir' below:

 

 

What is an a capella choir?

 

From the Italian, a capella means literally, ‘in the manner of the chapel’. This style of singing is specifically unaccompanied, in contrast to cantata. An a capella choir performs without instruments, meaning that all the sounds (sometimes including sound effects or beatboxing) are made entirely with the human voice.

 

This raw and exciting style of performance is becoming much more common in pop music, particularly since the release of blockbuster films like Pitch Perfect and the emergence of YouTube artists like Pentatonix. These choirs use other techniques like beatboxing to create the sound of a full band, often performing cover versions or medleys of popular songs.

 

 

This year Ingenium students were lucky enough to be visited by Tobi Hug, former vocal percussionist for the amazing Swingle Singers, for a workshop on beatboxing and vocal sound effects (above).

 

Singing unaccompanied is not a new thing though – it’s as old as singing itself! There are thousands of amazing examples of a capella singing in music throughout history. It can be more difficult than singing with instruments as it requires each singer to listen very carefully to everyone else throughout, to make sure the ensemble stays in tune and the ensemble doesn’t get sharper or flatter throughout the piece.

 

Check out a mixture of examples of a capella singing below – there are so many things you can do with the human voice, both alone and in groups!