UK VOCAL IMPROV FESTIVAL RETREAT 2022
October 19 - 23
Our first ever celebration of the growing community
of vocal improvisers in the UK!
In the fall of 2022, a team of 8 facilitators and singers came together to create the first-ever UK Vocal Improvisation Festival Retreat. Spurred by the challenge of isolation and separation during the pandemic, we eight singers felt called to combine forces to find ways to offer nurturing spaces for connection. We continued singing together, creating together, dreaming together. With the end of the pandemic on the horizon, a great in-person gathering of our communities felt like the only natural progression.
Hosted by Penny Brohn, a national cancer charity, the first-ever UK Vocal Improvisation Retreat welcomed 70 singers to join together in song. Over the course of an immersive 4 days, participants experienced a range of workshops on everything from body music, CVI, circle-singing, embodiment, live looping, and more. As with any new endeavour, we discovered what we had made, as we were making it. We met in song and movement, over fresh meals and walks in the gardens, in play and in grief. Together we re-imagined what it means to create together a way of being that honours the individual, the collective, and our potential as human-beings. We witnessed the sheer beauty of our collective song of the moment.
We are a community of vocal improvisation artists and facilitators woven together through a variety of projects, explorations, workshops, performances and cups of tea.
At the beginning of the pandemic, we, like most people, clunkily navigated our way through the trials and tribulations of offering an online space to our communities. The undeniably shiny silver lining is that we started talking regularly, co-creating spaces, and really digging into what collaborative vocal improvisation actually means to us. Most importantly, we realised that by joining our forces together, we could reach more people and help the artform to flourish.
Some of the exciting projects that germinated from this commitment to closer collaboration, connection, and cross-pollination include: The Daily 10&6, a new album of improvised songs “Remembering”, Guillermo’s Anthropos, The Wellspring Collective formed by Emma and the Kates, Jaka and Randolph working on the Collective Identity project, Kate Smith and Uran’s time-travel livestream, and more.
This journey has grown us all so much! And, most importantly, we have realised how rich and varied the idea of improvising using voice, particularly in a group setting, can be – as well as how hungry people are to dive into this work!,
We couldn’t NOT offer a space for people to FINALLY come together and celebrate this richness once the world opened up again!
We - Kate Smith, Uran Apak, Kate Mellors, Emma Coleman, Jaka Škapin, Guillermo Rozenthuler, Briony Greenhill and Randolph Matthews - are absolutely thrilled to be continuing this journey of collaboration.
Finally, we are grateful to so many influential artists, teachers, and improv greats, who have influenced us all and who we would like to honour for their contribution to this artform. Thank you particularly to Bobby McFerrin for his incredible innovation and continuous inspiration, and also to Rhiannon for her pioneering teaching resources - Vocal River. Thank you also to our friends and collaborators in the UK including Jenni Roditi, Cleveland Watkiss, and many many more.