University of Bristol: Singers win UK’s biggest a cappella competition

A singing group has swept to victory in the UK finals of the world’s biggest a cappella competition.

The Bristol Suspensions fought off dozens of groups to win at the ICCA, a contest made famous by the Hollywood blockbuster Pitch Perfect.

In previous years, the 17-piece University of Bristol outfit placed just behind groups such as the University of Bath’s Aquapella and Imperial College London’s Techtonics in the UK finals. This year they beat both groups by over 50 points.

“It’s absolutely mind-blowing,” said group marketing manager and languages student Alessia Doyle. “We’ve competed in the competition for years so to win is incredible and completely shocking!

“We were on a video call when they announced it and you could see our jaws drop in unison.”

The original video for the track they covered, The Heartburn Song by Lawrence, features the band eating a series of spicy foods.

The suspensions paid homage to this in their own video, by each munching a spicy chilli pepper.

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“One of our members ate a scotch bonnet. He was crying by the end of it,” said Alessia.

On any other year the talented team would be packing their bags for the international final in New York, but this year the whole competition has been held online.

That meant rehearsing and performing all 17 parts in bedrooms and lounges around the country.

Oscar Andrusier spent almost a year arranging the award-winning song for The Suspensions, with help from musical director Robbie Armstrong and assistant musical director Rosa Witts. Ryan Blyth edited the video and Nathan Cave mixed the audio – challenging tasks with 17 submissions.

The University of Bristol group also won the Special Award for Outstanding Arrangement at both the quarterfinals and semi-finals of the ICCA, along with the Outstanding Vocal Percussion and Outstanding Mix at the quarterfinals.

The University of Bristol’s all-female identifying group Pitch Fight came third in the UK final.

The international final will be live-streamed on May 8.

After releasing two singles this year, The Bristol Suspensions are fundraising £5,000 to produce a professional album.

Musical director and biology student Robbie Armstrong said: “We’re really looking forward to recording our music this summer – it will serve as a time capsule of the amazing talent we have in the group this year, which will be especially nice to do in our most successful year to date! We have some great songs lined up to record.”

Earlier this year an album by another University of Bristol a cappella group, Academy, was nominated for five awards at the CARAs, described as the Grammys of the a cappella world.

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