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Narberth A Cappella Voice Festival 2017 – A Huge Success!

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Pembrokeshire witnessed some truly incredible a cappella talent for the 9th edition of the annual Narberth A Cappella Voice Festival, which once again brought hundreds of singing people into town from all over Wales and beyond.

The only festival of its kind in Wales, the Narberth A Cappella Voice Festival, described by one festival goer as ‘Uplifting and Life affirming’, wowed over 500 people with its mission to experience an uplifting celebration of song.   One festival goer even claimed that “We thought last year’s NAVF couldn’t be bettered but NAVF 2017 was just as good!!”

Now in its ninth year, the 2017 festival presented a diverse line up of singing talent with everything from Sea Shanties to the ancient art of storytelling through song, toe tapping jazz to comic song theatre and much much more! The NAVF 2017 programme was characteristically diverse and welcoming and demonstrated a range of different genres and cultures.

Programming of this year’s festival aligned 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 and was also filled with bags of community spirit.

This year’s festival saw the return of Côr Pawb (Everyone’s Choir), an intergenerational choir, conceived by Span Arts’ Cheerful project, which draws its 150 members from local choirs, schools and community groups.  Côr Pawb closed the festival with Sing for Your Sarnies; a heart-warming, joyful and community spirited closing event where participants enjoyed a feast of songs over a tasty array of sandwiches and cake. Lee Day from Western Telegraph said that “I left the festival with February blues firmly banished full of songs, spiritually replenished and already looking forward to the next one”.

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

Span Arts was overwhelmed with the positive feedback from audiences who told us NAVF 2017 was Delightful varied inspiring”, withVery accomplished singing,” and A COMPLETE JOY!

Highlights included Helen Chadwick, the foremost voice practitioner in the UK who headlined the opening night with a world premiere and gave an incredible performance of gorgeous A Cappella harmony songs including settings of inspirational poems, fabulous harmonies, body percussion and rhythmic games.

Saturday night’s headliners Fistful of Spookies, performed a unique and sometimes hilarious a cappella performance that was surprisingly tender.  They won over the audience with their charm, humour and consummate talent which resulted in pretty much the entire audience waltzing around the Queens Hall to Leonard Cohen’s “Dance Me To The End of Love”.

Chris Samuel from the Fistful of Spookies was thrilled with the quality and panache of our Pembrokeshire audiences and went as far as to say that “It is a wonderful festival and we are delighted to have had a small part in it this year…As for the audience…… words fail us. They made all the right noises in all the right places, and we have NEVER had such silence for our quiet songs. And then there was the dancing…and the stage invasion… what a top night.”

This year NAVF Workshops were also a real hit, with singing workshops led by all of the festival artists. End of workshop sharing sessions showcased amazing sounds and song from those who took part so enthusiastically. Watch this space for more participation next year!

NAVF also had a special performance up its sleeve with a fresh and unique collaboration between NAVF Founder Molara and NAVF 2016 singing sensation Camilo Menjura at The Queens Hall that really conveyed the joyful spirit of the festival.

This year also saw NAVF offer our first ever Art Buddy Scheme, a PAVS funded project to remove barriers to accessing the arts for people with learning disabilities.  Span Arts offered 7 target audience members a buddy for the festival and signed them up to Hynt, a national access scheme that works with theatres and arts centres in Wales to make sure there is a consistent offer available for visitors with an impairment or specific access requirement.

 “Wow… what a great weekend! said Chair of Span Arts, Mary Bell. thank you to everyone who had an input into the smoooooooth ! running of the festival!”

We received great feedback for the 2017 festival including:

  • “Loved the singing harmonies and theme of light. Particularly enjoyed the interpretation of poems of Rumi.”
  • “ feel the concert planning has improved over the years. All the acts were excellent and the length of the evening was just right”
  • “thanks once again for a very varied and + enjoyable programme + excellent organisiation throughout.”

Photography thanks to Mark Llewelyn & Jennie Caldwell (Illumijen)

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Kathryn Lambert

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