Narberth A Cappella Voice Festival 2016 Review

Tue 28 February All Day,

Standing ovations, sell-out concerts and stellar workshops characterised the eighth Narberth A Cappella Voice Festival,” Becky Hotchin, Western Telegraph.

Pembrokeshire witnessed some truly incredible a cappella talent for the 8th edition of the annual Narberth A Cappella Voice Festival, which once again brought hundreds of people singing into town from all over Wales and beyond.

The Sonds Of Pitches

Saturday Night Headline Act: The Sons Of Pitches

The only festival of its kind in Wales, the Narberth A Cappella Voice Festival, described by one festival goer as an exceptional life-enriching experience’, wowed over 1000 people with its mission to celebrate singing without instruments and to feature as wide a range of acts and styles as possible.

The 2016 Festival was led by new Director, Paula Redway who enjoyed probably our best year ever, with record ticket sales!” 49% of our audiences were new to the festival and people travelled from far and wide with 29% of attendees travelling between 30 and 50+ miles to attend the festival.

Now in its eighth year, the festival presented singing from around the globe, with everything from Native American to Palestinian, beat-boxing to South African Zulu, South American to Russian and much more! The NAVF 2016 programme was characteristically diverse and demonstrated a range of different genres and cultures.

Programming of this year’s festival aligned entirely with Span Arts’ remit to provide a varied cultural experience and access to internationally and nationally renowned musicians and A Cappella artists who may otherwise be unlikely to visit Pembrokeshire.

The festival continued to go from strength to strength and this year launched Côr Pawb (Everyone’s Choir), an intergenerational choir drawing its 150 members from local choirs and schools who opened the festival with a heartfelt and moving performance at Follies Theatre at Folly Farm.

Cor Pawb Credit Marc Hayes

Cor Pawb in association with Folly Farm (Credit Marc Hayes)

A smaller hand-picked group from the choir, Côr Pawb Bach, including the most confident school singers, opened the Saturday evening concert to critical acclaim.

Span Arts was overwhelmed with the positive feedback from audiences who told us NAVF “Exceeded all expectations, wasDiverse, tremendous & fun,” and a True vocal celebration!

Highlights included South African Zulu Male Choir who headlined the opening night with their incredible repertoire of traditional song and energetic dance. Having performed previously for the Narberth A Cappella Festival in 2013, the group attracted a full-house of loyal fans and new converts.

South African Zulu Male Choir

Friday Night Headliners: South African Zulu Male Choir

Saturday night’s headliners The Sons of Pitches, delivered a dazzling contemporary a cappella performance. Winners of the BBC Gareth Malone’s Naked Choir won over the audience with their humour, camaraderie and consummate talent and had almost all of the audience up on their feet and dancing for the first time in the festival’s history!

NAVF also challenges performers to work without instruments and saw Camilo Menjura using looping technology for the very first time on stage.

Camilo Menjura

Camilo Menjura

The festival closed with a Sunday lunchtime concert with Wales’ premier mixed voice choir and former winners of the BBC Radio Cymru’s Choir of Wales competition, Côrdydd, who delivered a stunning performance in the beautiful St Andrews Church in Narberth which left half the audience in tears.

One audience member stated “I thought the weekend could not be topped until I heard Côrdydd at the church. The performance touched my soul”.

We are absolutely thrilled at the success of this year’s festival,” said Span Arts manager, Gwendoline Watson. Many people are saying it’s our best one yet, and certainly it’s the biggest and best it’s ever been. We can only hope it will continue to grow and cement its place as THE a cappella festival for Wales.”

We received great feedback for the 2016 festival including:

  • What an incredible event for Pembrokeshire!
  • It will be challenging to top this festival.
  • The event was fantastic. Main acts were absolutely superb!

Photography thanks to Glen Davis