Edinburgh Fringe 2011
Great a cappella singing, slick choreography and winning smiles from this twelve strong group from Oxford who mix perfect harmonies, dance and clever mime as they walk you through a selection of songs from their extensive repertoire.
A cappella must be contagious at Oxford University – perhaps it’s a prerequisite of admission to the hallowed halls of this elite university establishment. Whether it is or not, there’s a fair chance that if you go into any bar or café within striking distance of student then your ears will be assailed with close harmony singing from any one of In the Pink (all girls), Out of the Blue (all boys) or Oxford Gargoyles (a mix of the two).
Oxford Gargoyles have been regulars now at the Fringe for a number of years, winning plaudits for their unique brand of a cappella jazz style arrangements of the popular and the less well known. Their almost perfect balance of female and male voices produces a top quality polyphonic sound to which they add choreography that is both slick and amusing.
Starting off with a couple of upbeat arrangements from their new CD, Flying Right, they moved seamlessly into a couple of more reflective pieces including one of the Beatles’ less well known numbers Here, There and Everywhere, which was delivered with tenderness and balance.
Soloists were universally strong with the impressive tenors, Euan Campbell and Jack Cook being given free range in a number of pieces. But the voice that really stood out was that of newcomer Anjali Joseph. She had a quite astonishing range for a soprano and produced music with wonderful timbre, resonance and clarity. She clearly has an ear for jazz as well, her voice jamming demonstrating just why she is a talent worth watching out for should she head for the boards after finishing her history degree in a few years’ time.
The strengths of this group are their vocal range (top end soprano through to counter-tenor to genuine bass), their superb use of vocal percussion and their overall tonality. They produce pitch perfect harmonies every time and their musical interpretation and expression are impeccable. The choreography is a pleasant and amusing bonus but the quality of their music is such that they could just stand there, sing and have the audience in raptures.
A couple more rousing numbers, a quick encore and we were done, far too soon for their paying public. But the old adage is to leave folks wanting more and there is no doubt that the Gargoyles did just that. With their perfect harmonies, timing and movement, the Gargoyles are the stand out a cappella group on the Fringe this year.