JUICE Vocal Ensemble will make their York Early Music Christmas Festival debut on Tuesday at the National Centre for Early Music.

All three members, however, are very familiar with York; sopranos Sarah Dacey and the aptly named Anna Snow and alto Kerry Andrew each being an alumnus of the University of York music department.

"Between us, we were there from 1996 to 2003," says Kerry. "I started first; I then did a Masters in composition; Sarah in contemporary vocal studies and Anna in ensemble singing, so you put the three of us together and you get Juice."

And why exactly do you call yourselves Juice? "We got together officially in 2003, but before that we were at a summer school and we just needed to come up with a name, and at the time we were very influenced by a composer called Meredith Monk [an American composer, performer, director, vocalist, filmmaker, and choreographer, who creates multi-disciplinary works that combine music, theatre and dance]," recalls Kerry.

"Almost all of her work is wordless experimental vocal music and one of her early pieces we liked was called Juice."

And so, Juice Vocal Ensemble was born, becoming the University of York's ensemble in residence in the "mid to late 2000s".

"Anna lives in Acomb, so we come up quite often to rehearse there," says Kerry, who now lives in London with a PhD to her name.

"We all have a lasting link with York. I lived there for six years overall, staying the longest at the university, coming back after a gap to finish my PhD, when I lived in lovely Fossgate, and I was back in York in June, playing at the NCEM with my other project, the contemporary folk group You Are Wolf."

Not strictly "Early Music", instead Juice will present their new wintry programme full of snow, frost and ice, featuring new works by composers such as Tarik O’Regan, Emily Hall, Benjamin Tassie, Alison Willis and Chris Warner.

New Juice arrangements of the ancient carols Coventry Carol, Hollyberry Song and Down In Yon Forest, renaissance lute songs, folk songs and winter pop/rock classics, such as Kate Bush’s December Will Be Magic Again and Judy Collins’ Winter Sky, will feature too, although the last two miss out on an appearance on Juice's new album, Snow Queens.

"Basically, it's very pretty vocal music with a universal edge, including Anna's delightfully warped version of Coventry Carol, as she likes to pull things apart and then re-arrange them!

"I've given the Sans Day Carol – also known as the Hollyberry Song – a pretty simple arrangement where we sometimes hit gongs and wine glasses, and the rest of the album is made of new pieces.

"Forty pieces were sent to us in 2015 and 2016 when we were put out a call for commissions for five or six new works for concerts, so it's been lovely to discover new composers," says Kerry.

Chris Warner's Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind, for example, is set to words from Shakespeare's As You Like It. "When we perform it, we blow into tuned beer and wine glasses, with water poured into each one, so that's really fun to watch," says Kerry.

In further highlights, Alison Willis's The Ballad Of The Harp Weaver uses words by Edwardian poet Edna St Vincent Millay. "It's a very evocative, spooky piece about a mother trying to keep her son warm in winter," says Kerry.

"Emily Hall, my contemporary at university, has written a lovely piece for us called 4.05, all about the darkest winter's day of the year."

White balloons may feature in Juice's publicity picture, but will they be present at tomorrow's concert? "No, but we'll be bringing sleigh bells, gongs, wine bottles and tinfoil," says Kerry.

Tinfoil? "We crunch tinfoil very quietly to replicate the sound of walking on ice," she explains, ever the impromptu foley artist.

Juice Vocal Ensemble present Snow Queens at the 2018 York Early Music Christmas Festival at the NCEM, St Margaret's Church, Walmgate, York, Tuesday (December 11) at 7.30pm. Box office: 01904 658338 or at ncem.co.uk/xmas.

Juice Vocal Ensemble's winter album, Snow Queens, is available from juicevocalensemble.bandcamp.com