The Oxford Alternotives: From Pitch Battle to the Fringe

The Oxford Alternotives are making their eighth return to the Fringe, fresh out of competing on BBC’s Pitch Battle. Oxford’s oldest student acapella group, formed in 1993, have already begun performing their new repertoire to sell-out audiences in Edinburgh. Their set is “incredibly alternative, as the name suggests”, co-president Rosie Richards tells us, with a mix of Michael Jackson, Muse and Ed Sheeran in their show.

 

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In the lead up to Pitch Battle, the group put in over fifty hours’ worth of rehearsals to perform their renditions of Led Zeppelin, Rihanna and Celine Dion. Although they did not make it through to the live finals, Rosie tells us that the intensive rehearsals for the competition mean that their new “arrangements are more complex”. Band member Oscar Darwin arranges many of the pieces that the group perform, but Rosie tells us that the rehearsals are a largely collaborative process. Overseen by Hugh Cross (Musical Director), everyone contributes to create the set.

I asked what an audience can expect if they came to see the show. Rosie tells us “there’s something for everyone, with a mix of slow songs, upbeat numbers and choreography.” However, what makes the Alternotives different is their chemistry on stage. On Pitch Battle, Rosie described the group as “basically like a family”, but Rosie admits that having the fifteen band members living in a ten-person flat has really brought out the typical family dynamic of getting on each other’s nerves, but still loving each other. We discussed how this translates onto the stage.

Rosie: “We’re all genuinely such good friends so we just have so much fun performing together. Also, there is no fourth wall in our show. We constantly want to interact and engage with our audience so they feel a part of the fun with us.”

 

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After the intense build up to Pitch Battle, Rosie tells us how they prepared to take on the Fringe. Following the competition, the band members all focused on their exams and studies, exhausted from the competition. However, before the Fringe they had a four-day rigorous boot-camp, singing twelve hours a day. They ensured that every band member has their moment to shine in the set list, with solos throughout the show that were voted upon by the group. This family of singers make sure they share the chance for each member to show off their individual talent.

I asked Rosie one final question: how did you achieve all those flawless confetti headshots of the band members? “A lot of confetti, and a lot of attempts. Everyone was meant to express their personality through their pose, but some people were very fussy about what their headshot looked like! However, they all turned out fab in the end.”

With such extensive rehearsal prior to the Fringe, the group are ready to smash their final days of shows. For rigorously perfected vocal harmonies, fun interaction with the audience and a variety of musical styles, the Oxford Alternotives promise to deliver a revitalising hour of acapella.

‘The Oxford Alternotives’ are performing every day until the 19th August, 1pm at C Venues 34 (Chambers Street)

 

Laura Wilsmore