Vocalizing about on campus vocal groups

Anna DeNelsky and Bel Carden

Insight and information on the University’s four different a cappella groups 

A cappella is a style of vocal performance in which instrumental accompaniment is simulated through delegated vocal parts. The term a cappella means in the chapel in Italian, displaying the singing style’s religious roots. Today, a cappella music is decidedly more secular; the style slowly began to make its debut into pop music through releases such as “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” in 1961 by the Tokens, as well as Billy Joel’s “For the Longest Time” in 1983, both of which feature a cappella performances. Today the style is a popular music genre, with groups such as Pentatonix performing purely vocally with little to no instrumentals. A cappella music groups have also become extremely popular on college campuses. One of the earliest collegiate a cappella groups was established in 1909, with the introduction of the Yale Whiffenpoofs. To this day the Whiffenpoofs are still performing, making them the longest continuously existing a cappella group in the country. Although many groups still adhere to the more traditional style of a cappella, a new trend within the genre involves using singer’s voices to imitate rock and electronic instruments. Singers will beatbox or perform other vocal exercises in an attempt to imitate percussion instruments.

A cappella was introduced to the University in 1995 with the establishment of Two Past Midnight. Since then, it has only grown in popularity on campus. Currently, there are four different groups for which students can audition. Each group performs at the Christy’s A Capella concert—a “Fall fixture” on campus, taking place every Family Weekend in the Fall semester. This past Saturday Sept. 18, at 2:45 p.m., all four of the campus’s a cappella groups performed on the Weis Center stage. Each a cappella group has its own unique sound and identity, ultimately offering a different listening experience to their audiences.

The Silhouettes 

The Silhouettes are the University’s only all-female a cappella group, home to 11 dedicated singers. The group typically has three concerts, including the yearly Christy’s A Cappella, which took place last week. In the past, their winter concert has taken place at the Civil War Cider bar on Market Street, while a spring concert has historically been held in Bucknell Hall. President of the group Caroline Schuermann ’22 explains how being in the “Sils” has shaped her college experience: “The Sils [have] been my home base and one constant for all of college. As I start off my senior year at [the University], I couldn’t have been luckier to be able to make music with my favorite ladies and biggest support system. Not only is Sils a wonderful community of women […] who share the goal of making music with one another, it is also an incredibly supportive and authentic group of girls who care deeply about one another.” Nina Sigety ’23, a member since her first semester at the University, shares a similar sentiment; “I love the Sils because it gave me a community that I felt instantly included in my first year at [the University]. These women are all incredibly talented, and it’s really awesome to come together as a group who likes to sing in their free time, but also just a group of girls that love to hang out with each other outside of music,” Sigety said. The Sils often draw from a broad repertoire of genres, while tending to gravitate towards pop and classic rock.

For more info on the Sils, visit their website: www.bucknellsilhouettes.weebly.com or follow their Instagram @bucknell_sils.The Offbeats

Founded in 2011, the Offbeats are one of the three co-ed groups on campus, and are always growing; this semester they welcomed five new members to the organization. Sophie Granbois ’22, who joined the Offbeats her sophomore year in the fall, said “A cappella has been such a fun way to meet and sing with other [University] students! Practicing and performing are always highlights of my semester since I love to sing.” President Emma Stone ’22 is similarly excited to be performing in person, after a pandemic-induced hiatus forced the group off stage for over a year. “It’s the connections that we make with each other while being together and having fun with music that makes The Offbeats so special,” Stone continued, “so I’m feeling very grateful we have the ability to be functioning in person for my senior year. We are working on some really cool music for this semester and had five amazingly talented new beats join us, so I’m excited to see what’s in store!” More information about The Offbeats can be found on their social media @bucknelloffbeats, and can be contacted via email at theoffbeats.bucknell@gmail.com.

Two Past Midnight 

Founded in 1995, Two Past Midnight is the University’s oldest a cappella group. The Two Past midnight group crosses various music genres, ranging from indies to oldies to modern pop. The group describes itself in its bio as “an incredibly tight-knit family, both current members and alumni, all very different and with widely diverging musical tastes, something we’ve tried to reflect in our selection of music.” Two Past midnight can be contacted at twopastbucknell@gmail.com or found on social media @teamtwopast.

Beyond Unison

Beyond Unison, founded in 2004 currently claims 17 members. The group’s musical director Tom McKillop’22 spoke about his experience; “[it s]ounds cheesy, but [Beyond Unison] has been a family for me on campus since my first week at Bucknell. Just like all families, we fight, but at the end of the day we love each other and share a special bond though making music. Being Music Director has taught me so much about myself as a person and a leader. I am really excited to take what I have learned with me for the rest of my life! We are so excited to sing with the other groups this weekend at Christy’s, it is long overdue!” The group’s repertoire includes songs from artists such as Radiohead, The Mowglis, Rihanna, Mumford and Sons and the OH Hellos. In addition to performances, the group also works on a cappella recording and production. More information on Beyond Unison can be found on their social media @beyondunison. The group can be contacted directly at: beyondunison@gmail.com.

All of the University’s a capella groups typically hold auditions at the beginning of each semester, sharing more information about the process as audition dates approach. Joining an a capella group is a great way to get involved on campus, while finding a community of students who share a similar passion for the art of a cappella singing.

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