By Megan Lupo
Harmonious tones filled the competition stage, as Rider’s a cappella groups showcased their performing talent at Stockton’s ICCA Mid-Atlantic Quarterfinals on Feb. 6.
Rider Vibes, ‘Til Further Notes and Deaftones knew that to perfect their performances, it was going to take dedication.
“Competition season is a huge commitment,” said senior theater performance major Darin Earl, the president of ‘Til Further Notes and the musical director for Rider Vibes. “Everyone in the group is an individual, a human being — they all have their particular interests, passions or commitments, so it’s hard to schedule rehearsals outside of the regular time. We needed every second we could manage to find.”
To bond and learn music arrangements, ‘Til Further Notes organized a retreat called, “Camp Camp,” named after the founder of the group, Elena Camp, ’13.
The retreat also served as a way “to agree on our vision and message for our set — our mutual mission was to compete,” Earl said.
Hitting the right note, ‘Til Further Notes came in third, scoring 367 points, and member sophomore musical theater major Ross Thompson won the award for Outstanding Choreography.
“For ‘Til Further Notes we absolutely aced the competition,” Earl said. “The mission was to win, and despite what the judges thought, we did.”
The passion of ‘Til Further Notes not only resonates in songs that varied from “The Story of Tonight” from Broadway’s Hamilton to a mash-up of “Revolution” by Diplo and “New Americana” by Halsey, but also in the performers.
“We’re a family through and through, and because there are so many artists in the group, everyone gets each other,” Earl said. “There’s a really supportive atmosphere that usually flourishes from competition season.”
Despite the cutthroat nature of competition, Rider Vibes’ mentality was more relaxed.
“For Vibes, we met as often as ‘Til Further Notes did — every night for two weeks after returning to school to learn music and choreography,” Earl said. “Vibes’ mission was to go and compete for the experience and have fun. So, the mindset there was freer, and we allowed ourselves the liberty to gain the confidence through the experience.”
With songs like the fast-paced “Natalie” by Bruno Mars, the ballad “King” by Jess Glynne and the final upbeat medley of “Hold My Hand” by Lauren Aquilina and “Shut Up and Dance” by Walk the Moon, the Vibes’ choreography had to match the adventuresome selection.
“The inspiration behind the choreography was the story we were trying to portray. Each song had a different meaning in the stories of the characters we created for our set. Our story was about love, loss, and ultimately reuniting,” said junior elementary education major and Vibes choreographer Angela Sandoukas. “We thought the songs went well with our theme, and the choreography was mostly about telling the story. Choreography in the ICCA is mostly about making sure the audience and judges can understand the story we are trying to tell.”
Competition aside, the Vibes’ strengths extend much further than singing.
“Vibes has a great attitude that keeps them on top of whatever challenge they face,” Earl said. “I think it’ll take them really far in fostering the family environment that has settled as the group’s foundation.”
And although the Deaftones, whose group consists of 14 music majors from Westminster Choir College, did not move on to the final round held in the New York’s Beacon Theatre, it desires to “perform more and more in the Princeton area,” according to its website. The Deafnotes did score a win, however, with freshman Jaci Gisondi taking home the Outstanding Vocal Percussion award.
With its diverse performances of genres from pop to hip-hop to indie, the Deaftones have grown into a distinguished competing force since forming in 2007 under the leadership of Patrick Dillon.
“A cappella has sprung me into so many avenues I never thought I’d be able to explore,” Earl said. “I can always go out into the world and know that there are special people who have shared the experience of Rider Vibes and ‘Til Further Notes.”
Printed in the 2/17/16 edition