Arts & Culture / Mosaic / April 20, 2016

A capella sees revival

Senior Grace Neubauer is a chemistry and biochemistry double major. Junior Dani Fraser is a Spanish and creative writing double major. Freshman Melissa Smith thinks she’ll go into international relations. Almost none of the 12 women are music majors or minors. Only two are in the Women’s Chorale. Only half read music or have formal choir training. Yet the group of women meets two times a week, just to sing.

Though the women’s a capella group has been around for a while, Chordially Yours has seen a steady increase of members in the last few years. It’s doubled since Neubauer’s been in the group.

“Everyone had graduated or quit, so I found [senior Brandi Pudlo] and recreated it,” she said. “I’m just so happy I was able to make this still a thing.”

They performed once this year at a Best Buddies event, but their second performance of the year was Saturday when they opened for the Los Angeles-based a capella group The Filharmonic, which gained national momentum after being featured on NBC’s “The Sing-Off” and the movie “Pitch Perfect 2.” Before the performance, they wandered around the back of CFA, all dressed in black dresses. They warmed up briefly, and chatted with one another.

They’d be singing Elvis’ “Fools Rush In,” arranged by junior Haley Richter. The group doesn’t have a director, though Fraser and Smith currently share the role of president. When they rehearse, Smith usually sits at the piano, playing each person’s part before they practice together.

“It’s a team effort,” said sophomore Bailey Musselman. They’re hoping to have a concert prepared by the end of the term. Their next song on tap: Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah.”

The club’s attracted people for a variety of reasons. Freshman Courtney Harris was hooked after she saw “Pitch Perfect.” Fraser’s always loved singing, but the Knox College Choir seemed like too big a time commitment.

“We also do an interesting range of music,” she said. Smith wanted to be part of a music group that didn’t meet every day. A big draw to members is that they don’t need to read music. “They can have a beautiful voice and not know how to read music,” Neubauer said.

Fraser noted that everyone who’s joined this year has a good ear and can pick up their parts quickly. The group met Tuesday night and got through the first half of “Hallelujah.” After their hour-and-a-half-long rehearsal, they stood in a circle and practiced a capella. At the end, they cheered, laughed and hugged.

Kate Mishkin
Kate Mishkin is a senior majoring in English literature and minoring in journalism. She started working for TKS as a freshman and subsequently served as managing editor, co-news editor and co-mosaic editor. Kate is the recipient of four awards from the Illinois College Press Association for news and feature stories and one award from the Associated Collegiate Press. She won the Theodore Hazen Kimble Prize in 2015 and 2014 and the Ida M. Tarbell Prize in Investigate Journalism in 2014. She has interned at FILTER Magazine, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and WGIL radio and the Virginian-Pilot.

Twitter: @KateMishkin

Tags:  a capella Bailey Musselman Brandi Pudlo choir chordially yours concert Courtney Harris Dani Fraser grace neubauer Haley Richter hallelujah jeff buckley Melissa Smith music singing

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