It’s a surreal moment. I’m sitting in a converted barn being serenaded by an all-female a capella trio, enjoying my own private concert. The singers are Victoria Couper, Clemmie Franks and Emily Burn, and together they make up Voice, an ensemble with a very distinctive sound and a diverse repertoire that ranges from medieval to contemporary songs. The piece they have just sung for me is Musical Harmony, the title track of their debut album which they are launching at St John the Evangelist Church next Friday.

Not only are their voices stunning, there is a notable rapport — which is not surprising, as the girls have known each other since they were 12, when they all sang with the Oxford Girls’ Choir under conductor Richard Vendome.

It was here that they were introduced to the music and prose of medieval abbess Hildegard von Bingen, whose work remains at the heart of their repertoire.

They formed Voice in 2006, when all three girls happened to be living in London after finishing university.

“We just said, ‘Let’s meet up and have a sing’,” explains Emily. “We started off singing music that was very familiar to us, and that we’d been singing together when we were still at school, and we decided that we loved it and we took it from there, really.”

Much of their inspiration comes from working with medieval vocal group Sinfonye. “Stevie Wishart, who runs that group, and Vivienne Ellis, another singer involved in Sinfonye, have been amazing mentors to us,” says Clemmie. “Stevie wrote a new piece for us as well [O Choruscans lux stellarum], based on a cantus firmus by Hildegard von Bingen, which we performed at the Royal Festival Hall as part of the Women of the World Festival. We had the Voicelab community choir as a backing group, which was very beautiful, so we’ve got a trio version on the album.”

Recording an album was a natural progression for the trio, after seven years of working and performing with a number of contemporary composers.

“We’ve had some really beautiful pieces written for us, and we just wanted to bring it together, put a pin in the map and say, Voice has come this far,” Emily says.

“We also felt it was important to record an album that represented the breadth of our repertoire,” adds Clemmie. “But also it was coherent, because lots of the contemporary repertoire is inspired by Georgian folk and early music, so it all ties together.”

The girls are looking forward to performing in the SJE’s stunning acoustics. “It’s got the perfect acoustic for the music we sing,” Clemmie says. “And we can use the space, because we like to not only stand in formation but also create a triangle round the venue, and the SJE lends itself to that.”

“It’s got a really good vibe,” adds Victoria. “The people who run it make it very welcoming, and that’s important.”


St John the Evangelist Church, Iffley Road, Oxford
Friday, July 19
Call 01865 305305 or visit