A Derry student is bringing one of Oxford University’s biggest musical exports to the city next week.
Niamh Furey, who is currently studying Spanish and Portugese at St Catherine’s College in Oxford, has been singing with the 15 member a capella group the ‘Alternotives’ since taking her place at the university two years ago.
Next week, as part of a warm up for their slot at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the group will take in the sights in Derry and are hoping to perform some gigs when here.
While a love of languages sent former Thornhill pupil Niamh to the prestigious college, music has kept her busy over the past twelve months since taking up the presidency of the acclaimed music group.
Fresh from co-ordinating the ‘Alternotives’ tour of America which saw them perform at Harvard University, Niamh says she’s delighted to be able to play host to the group in her home town.
“I’ve always loved music and there’s such a strong musical foundation here in the city,” Niamh told the Journal.
The 20-year-old, daughter of Mary and Tony Furey from Derry’s Culmore Road, has taken full advantage of the music heritage of the North West and to date has trained under the McCafferty school and the Foyle School of Speech and Drama. Niamh has also worked with Donal Doherty and performed with the City of Derry Youth Choir as well as singing as part of school choirs at Thornhill and St John’s Primary School.
She also trained with critically acclaimed Belfast based organisation MT4Youth.
“That was such good experience. It gave all of us who were involved a chance to work with professionals which gave a brilliant insight into the industry,” she said.
Alongside her studies at Oxford, Niamh also won a coveted Leask music scholarship at the university.
The local singer said she’s enjoyed every minute of her time with the ‘Alternotives’ and is delighted to be taking part in performances alongside the 15 strong musical group.
The Alternotives are Oxford University’s longest established a cappella group, having formed in 1993 as an alternative to the chapel choirs that dominated the university’s singing scene at the time. Since then, the group have moved from strength to strength, establishing themselves as Oxford’s premier co-ed a cappella group are billed for their unique take on famous hits, irresistible on-stage fun and signature purple outfits.
The group are a fifteen-strong ensemble which provide innovative a cappella reimaginations of songs from a whole host of genres, from 90s R&B to indie rock and jazz to current chart toppers. Alongside a stylish set list which ensures that there’s something for every audience member, the Alternotives are billed as delivering slick choreography, astounding beatboxing and intricate musical arrangements in up to 10-part harmony to make every show fresh, fun and exciting.
Niamh has promised that the group will inject something a little bit different into Derry’s vibrant music scene when they visit next week.
“I thought it would be a great idea to bring them back home for a wee taste of Derry. I’m sure the group will be really impressed by our city’s strong creative tradition, a tradition that is strikingly present in our young people,” she says.
“I didn’t really know anything about acappella before I joined The Alternotives, as a cappella singing isn’t really a thing here. I really enjoy it and I think that the city’s children and young adults will too, so we’ve decided to run some workshops while we’re in Derry. Two workshops will be happening in Fireworks DDTA Studio in Bishop Street on Friday July 25th from 10am for two age groups, 8-12 and 13+. Each two hour workshop costs £12 or £8 for Fireworks members. If you fancy yourself as a singer, or just want to try something new, then email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com to confirm your place.
“We’ll also be performing at the Sea Food Festival that weekend, so it would be great to get a wee bit of coverage for those events. The group are arriving on Wednesday July 23rd and will be here until Sunday morning July 27th.”