A cappella group emits good vibes

By Nicole Veenstra

Rider Vibes performs as an act in this year’s Gay-Straight Alliance Variety Show held Tuesday.

With the recent Glee obsession sweeping the country, many Americans have a newfound interest in singing. For a group of students on Rider’s Lawrenceville campus, however, music has been a passion all along.

Rider Vibes, which started out in 2003 as an all-male singing group, is now coed. It performs at many events on campus, such as singing numbers at the Gay-Straight Alliance Variety Show and the national anthem at basketball games. It also will host a winter concert at Gill Chapel tonight and tomorrow at 7:30 p.m.

This group is different because it performs with no background music. Rider Vibes sings a cappella, relying on the students’ voices to create the illusion they are singing along to a background track.

Rider Vibes is a student-run organization on campus. Junior Whitney Haddard, president of Rider Vibes, explained the process of deciding what songs to sing.

“The majority of the songs we do are arranged by someone in the group,” she said. “Songs that aren’t arranged by a group member are brought in by members, discussed, and then decided on by the group.”

There are many ways members take part in the group’s activities.

“Every member is encouraged to participate in selecting songs to arrange or to sing, and deciding who sings the solos,” she said.

The group performs a variety of songs, including everything from contemporary tunes to Christmas music.

Junior Matt Barron, vice president of Rider Vibes, was originally interested in the group because he had founded an all-male a cappella group in high school. He found out that Rider Vibes was looking for a vocal percussionist to add to the personality of the music.

“The thing that excites me most about Vibes is that we can take a popular song, put our own spin on it, put our own notes and rhythms into it, and make it sound like a new song,” Barron said. “Singing a cappella really takes imagination.”

The group meets twice a week for two hours and typically holds auditions at the beginning of each semester to fill spots, depending on how many members are returning. Haddard said while experience is not necessary, anyone interested must have a passion for singing, as well as possess creativity and a willingness to be a part of a “crazy group.”

A cappella music is different than a normal choir.

“In a choir, there is a large group [of people], the music is on the page and there is a conductor,” Barron said. “With Vibes and all a cappella, you can have any amount of people, and you don’t necessarily have to have music written down.”

Although many people have their own opinions on a cappella music, Barron stands by the group.
“If someone says they don’t like a cappella music, it is probably because they have never heard it live,” he said.

Confident in their talent, Barron also states that performing with Rider Vibes in front of an audience is an emotional experience.

“Sometimes the best parts in a cappella come from what you are feeling, not reading,” he said.

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