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Festival Recommendations & Reviews – Part 3

Our next set of recommendations for the book Festival is brought to you on the day we hold our 4th Birthday Party, so forgive our self-indulgence.


You'll have read about our Special Guests who will be part of the first part of our Event: Olga Wojtas, Samuel Tongue, and Lynn Ferguson. They will have a discussion on the joy of ‘gathering’ (the theme of our next antlogy) after the past few strange years.


After a break (for cake) we’ll have some entertainment, including songs from one of our good friends and regular Saloneer, Elisa Fernández-Arias. Elisa writes acoustic jazz and comedy songs, has performed at Henry’s Cellar Bar, Paradise Palms, The Jazz Bar, and at our own Story-Slam at this year’s Leith Festival, and can be found on Facebook.


Along with some spoken word and other eclectic music, we will end with special guests, the dynamic vocal group Aquapella, who are back up for another run on the Festival Fringe with Gilded Balloon.


Review


While most young people are pampering a hangover, at 11.30 each day these energetic students from Bath are powering through an impressive set of arrangements for this 14-voice group. The songs are catchy and popular, yet their tone is symphonic – orchestral – aided by close-mic technique, rhythmic beatboxing, and an incredible vocal range – especially in the sub-bass department.


Besides the theatricality of performance (familiar to an audience who know, from TV shows, when to cheer a cheesy modulation) it is the ‘ensemble’ that gives this group the edge. While giving solo voices the chance to shine, in the overall blend no single voices stand out. There is a sense of collaboration in all they do; even the choreography is tailored to the ability of the members rather than being over-complex and showy.


It's astonishing that none of the performers studies music – in fact, there is no music course offered at the University of Bath. The group originally came out of the Student Union and is now run by an autonomous, self-governed committee (a bit like the Edinburgh Literary Salon) with officeholders taking on various responsibilities.


There is a natural turnover of members, and we were introduced to a trio of ‘newbies’ who took the spotlight in the song ‘Carry You’ demonstrating tight syncopation and blend. This sense of ensemble is the basis the of the audition process, and a glance at their website will show that every member feels part of a ‘family’ of singers.


Despite the challenges of recent years, Aquapella have steered through troubled waters, recruited new members, and recorded an EP. They celebrated their 10-year anniversary in May this year (having been around for over 11 years, but time was recently broke) and have been national champions of the ICCA (International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella) giving them the opportunity to perform (twice) in New York.


We are delighted to welcome Aquapella to our literary community which – like the musical world – is coming together again, sharing art, beauty, friendship, and (to risk a pun) gathering in harmony. You can see them (early booking advised) at Gilded Balloon.


E.I.B.F. Recommendations:


Michael Pedersen: Boy Friends Forever


Wednesday 24th August 19:00 - 20:00 - Baillie Gifford Sculpture Court


Along with two pioneering artists, Shirley Manson and Charlotte Church, Pedersen explores friendship, grief, love, and the realms beyond.


Liz Lochhead: 50 Years of a Pioneering Poet


Thursday 25th August 11:30 - 12:30 - Central Hall


For 50 years, former Makar Liz Lochhead has given us glistening poetry and theatre to reflect the shifting times.



David Bratchpiece & Kirstin Innes: The Arches, Remembered


Thursday 25th August 17:30 - 19:00 - Wee Red Bar


David Bratchpiece and Kirstin Innes’s Brickwork is a biography of, and a love song to The Arches, site of club nights, creativity, and collaboration.


Maddie Mortimer, Tanya Shadrick & Catherine Simpson: Our Bodies, Ourselves


Friday 26th August 10:15 - 11:15 - Northside Theatre


Three writers, including a great friend of the Salon, Catherine Simpson, discuss their books in which women encounter death and re-evaluate the bodies in which they live. Catherine’s book, One Body, luminously embraces body positivity after cancer.

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