Since the 2012 release of “Pitch Perfect,” a Cappella has spread rapidly on college campuses both small and large. But how accurate is the film that popularized this instrument-free musical community? We asked DePaul’s a Cappella community to enlighten us.
When it comes to the a Cappella community at large, Vince Glaviano (BUS ’17), former president of InterChorus, one of DePaul’s co-ed ensembles, says that unlike the movie, DePaul’s musical community is tight-knit. “It’s all these random people who come together for one specific interest,” Glaviano asserts. “I think that really draws the entire community together.”
The nearly 100 students who participate in DePaul’s a Cappella groups are unified by a single goal: to create great music. But when they aren’t singing, members of each group are as varied as the genres of music they perform, which range from hip-hop to vocal jazz to pop and more.
“I studied business management, [but we] have people who studied subjects such as public relations, English and various sciences,” Glaviano says. “You basically have a completely different life than everybody you’re with, but that draws the community even closer.”
That said, within each group, different themes emerge. Glaviano describes InterChorus as a “family.” Danny Geebur, president of DePaul Men’s a Cappella, commonly known as DMaC, says that his group is “ambitious.” Mykiliah Thompson, president of Sounds of Harmony, uses the word “service” to define her group. Nicholas Kiepura, president of the Fullertones, offers “quirky.” Raika Nuñez (LAS ’17), past president of DePaul Women’s a Cappella, known as DWaC, finishes off the list with “dynamic.”
The word “dynamic” certainly fits DWaC, as the group recently found itself at the center of several unique opportunities, from a performance on ABC Chicago’s “Windy City Live” to traveling to Washington, D.C., to perform at the White House in December 2016.
Nuñez looks back on that experience fondly but acknowledges it was a whirlwind. “Planning the White House visit was the most stressful five days,” she says. “You get a message asking to respond by [the next day] if you can be there ‘on this day, at this time.'”
The stress was worth it. While the group did not have the opportunity to meet then-first family the Obamas, the trip helped them bond as a group as they explored the nation’s capital.
But when talking about her favorite DWaC memory, Nuñez doesn’t cite the unique opportunities the group has had. Rather, she points to something less tangible.
“My best memory of DWaC is just seeing people grow,” she says. “It’s incredible to see everybody so comfortable with who they are.”
This is a consistent theme throughout the a Cappella community. Regardless of how long a group has been on campus, each group fosters an environment in which members can be themselves and pursue one of their passions.
In the case of Sounds of Harmony, members pursue two passions: singing and service. Sounds of Harmony is focused on inspiring Chicago youth, especially minorities and children of color, to aspire to a college education. The newest a Cappella group, which Thompson founded in May 2016, has already grown to more than 20 members, and the group performs regularly at local elementary and middle schools throughout Chicago.
While each group takes a Cappella seriously, they aren’t above having a good time. Kiepura loves the environment that the Fullertones cultivates. “We’re always doing fun, goofy things,” he says. “We don’t really put on a different face for rehearsal.”
Much of the fun within groups can be attributed to the varied personalities and experience levels found among members. Students are not required to have a background in music to audition for any group. Rather, each group looks for talented individuals who will mesh well with the existing ensemble.
Geebur is a perfect example of how well this process works. “When I joined, I had never been part of an a Cappella group, theatre or choir,” he says. “I will always remember coming into a new environment and seeing that you don’t have to be classically trained to be part of the group.”
Learn more about each group and follow them here:
Reprinted and edited with permission from Newsline.