Their name says it all, Belle Voci bring their beautiful voices to Clare to celebrate Christmas and Barbara Eeles finds out how an ‘accident’ catapulted them to success
Their name means beautiful voices. . . and when The Voice UK finalists Belle Voci perform in Clare church next week they hope to inspire a new generation of singers by sharing the limelight with a local school choir.
The light opera duo, who have enjoyed a whirlwind year since their success in The Voice UK 2018, will be joined by Stour Valley Community School choir in the concert on Wednesday, December 11.
Emily Burnett and Sophie Rowland – who teamed up to form Belle Voci four years ago – are making school choirs a feature of all the dates on their 2019 Christmas tour because both were encouraged by teachers to pursue careers in music.
“We would be nowhere without our schools, so we wanted to give something back and hopefully inspire some younger students,” said Emily.
Since appearing on The Voice they have toured with celebrated tenor Alfie Boe, been nominated for national awards, recorded albums, and enjoyed the thrilling experience of singing the national anthem
live to a global audience of 88 million at this year’s FA Cup Final.
Emily, whose aunt Katherine Harris runs a bookshop in Clare, said: “Sophie trained at London School of Musical Theatre and I trained at The Royal College of Music. We are now full-time singers, which has been the dream since we were very small.
“We are both from Chester but never met until four years ago when I was a chef and Sophie was a waitress in the same country pub in the middle of nowhere.”
They sang at weddings, corporate events, parties, funerals and charity functions. But going on The Voice, where they were mentored by Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson, was never part of the plan.
“I applied by accident,” Emily confesses. “I received an email from a jobs-board saying ITV were looking for classical singers.
“It was around Christmas so I naively thought they were having a staff party or something. When they asked us to go on the show we originally said no because we are an opera duo and it is predominantly a pop show, so we didn’t think we would be a good fit.
“Eventually they twisted our arms and the next thing we knew Jennifer Hudson turned her chair for us and we were through.
“It was the best decision we ever made. It was so fun during filming, and Jennifer was such an amazing woman to work with.
“Afterwards, we got an agent, we were invited to sing with Alfie Boe on his tour, and we were asked to sing the national anthem at Wembley Stadium on numerous occasions, culminating in the best day of our lives when we sang at the FA Cup Final.
“Our style of music is light opera with a twist. We love singing the classics like the Flower Duet and Nessun Dorma as they are so well written for the voice. However, we want to banish the stereotypes that often come with opera, such as it has to be stuffy and serious, and make it more accessible.
“We sing some mainstream songs too – like our new single The Scientist by Coldplay – in an operatic way. That way people can relate to opera because they know the song.”
The Clare audience will hear Christmas classics including Walking in the Air and Joy to the World. Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah and If I Loved You from Carousel are also on the programme.
Stour Valley Community School Choir will be performing with them and also sing Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas on their own. “We are so thrilled to have them and can’t wait to work with them. It should be a fabulous evening,” said Emily.
Tickets for the concert, which starts at 7.30pm,
are available priced £12 from Harris & Harris bookshop in Clare, bellevoci.co.uk or by calling 01787 277267.