AU’s a cappella groups host in-person concerts to end the semester
On a Sensual Note, Dime a Dozen, TenLi Tunes, Treble in Paradise and Pitches be Trippin’ reflect on an in-person semester of performing
Editor’s Note: Arts and Entertainment Editor Olivia Kozlevcar and Administration and Local News Editor Skye Witley, who are also members of Dime a Dozen, were not involved in the reporting, writing or editing of this review.
After a year and a half of performing virtually, American University’s a cappella groups hit the stage again with a wide variety of new songs, welcoming back old and new members. The University’s five a cappella groups reflected on the challenges, the joys and the experience of performing in person once again in the fall 2021 semester.
Pitches be Trippin’ hosts a performance focused around community
Pitches Be Trippin performed “The Cat’s Meow,” its final concert of the fall semester, on Dec. 3.
After not being able to perform live for the past two years, Pitches seemed enthusiastic to have their songs come alive and heard in real life by a live audience — and they definitely delivered.
A varied setlist full of modernity and drama, this performance was perfect for those who crave nostalgia for the early 2000s and 2010s tunes and were ready for new life and a fun modern twist. From techno-pop to alternative-indie to rock, the group sang a unique blend of songs.
Nothing except heart and soul were on display and Pitches certainly did not hold anything back. A big part of showing this was advertised by the group on their Instagram page where they were collecting donations outside of their performance in Butler to be given to “The Good Trouble Co-Op” — which according to Pitches’ Instagram post is a D.C.-based community-building organization that strategizes against gentrification and other forms of systemic violence.
“The Cat’s Meow” was a special performance, especially for the seniors, and Pitches leadership said they are excited to further that appreciation in the Spring.
“We didn’t do any tributes at this particular concert, but we usually do a senior song in the spring,” said Emmy Goyette, a Junior in the College of Arts and Sciences and the music director of Pitches be Trippin during an interview with The Eagle. “I want to give a shout out to our senior graduating this semester, Alexis McMenamin, who joined pitches all the way back in 2017 and is an absolute superstar.”
Ending with a positive note, “The Cat’s Meow” was a concert to be remembered to close out the semester.
TenLi Tunes reflects on challenges and successes this semester
AU’s newest a cappella group, TenLi Tunes, concluded the fall semester last week with a performance on Dec. 3. After holding five performances this past semester, the group is just getting settled into in-person performances.
Theo Hyman-Bockman, a junior in the School of International Service and the assistant music director for TenLi Tunes said that the semester started off rocky. TenLi Tunes began in the fall of 2019 with around 30 members, however, Hyman-Bockman said that it now has only nine members, the majority of which are seniors. The small group size this year has made rehearsing difficult.
“Because we have so few people, every time that we have somebody that isn’t able to come to rehearsal . . . it really makes an impact. We’re almost missing a full voice part,” Hyman-Bockman said.
Despite the hardships of recruitment and retention this semester, new members of the group are excited to continue being a part of the a cappella group. Ruby Coleman, a freshman in the School of Public Affairs, said that TenLi Tunes was one of the highlights of her semester.
“I’m very much a musical person and before I even got here, I was just you know, stalking a few Instagrams, and I found the TenLi Tunes Instagram account and I was like there’s a Jewish a cappella group that’s two things I like to do, how can I get involved,” Coleman said.
While the semester went well with audience turn-out for all of their performances, Coleman said the most difficult challenge of the semester was learning to sing while wearing a mask.
“It’s weird singing with a mask. All of our rehearsals are with us completely singing masked, and like anytime we perform we’re masked unless it’s outside,” Coleman said. “You have to get used to singing with a mask on which is definitely a process.”
Looking forward to the future after a successful final concert this fall semester, Hyman-Bockman said that the a cappella group is hoping to expand its numbers.
“Obviously being a new group and then immediately getting cut off for a year and a half, really kills a lot of the hope that we had for getting a bunch of new people this year," Hyman-Bockman said. "But I’m not giving up yet.”
Dime a Dozen brings soul and passion to Kay Spiritual Life Center
AU a cappella group Dime a Dozen took the stage at the Kay Spiritual Life Center for its “Dime After Dark” winter concert on Dec. 4.
After over two years without playing a big solo concert due to the pandemic, the gender inclusive a cappella group returned to the stage, debuting new music it worked on throughout the semester. Helmed by President Kruttika Gopal and Music Director Gavin Meyer, the group welcomed the audience back to live music with a collection of heartfelt and energetic songs. The concert was also livestreamed on the group’s Facebook page, accommodating virtual audiences who could not be there in person to experience the show.
The group sang a mix of trendy new songs and throwback hits, featuring plenty of beatboxing and dancing. The concert opened with a classy cover of “The Feeling” by Sammy Rae & The Friends. An audience favorite was the cover of “Kyoto” by Phoebe Bridgers with the original instrumental beautifully arranged into a sparkling a cappella accompaniment, while the soulful interpretation of the Amy Winehouse classic “Valerie” also earned huge applause.
Dime a Dozen showcased the talent on its roster with a number of passionate solos across all voice parts. From the rumbling bass solo on a performance of Billy Joel’s “Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song),” to the cooing falsetto solo on their version of Silk Sonic’s “Leave the Door Open,” to the powerful soprano solo on its rendition of “The Love You Save” by the Jackson 5, the range and talent of the performers was apparent to the entire crowd.
The most moving moment of the night came during a rendition of “Sing for Myself” by Voices in Your Head. The lights dimmed as Dime a Dozen sang about keeping hope and joy alive in dark moments through music. It was an important reflection on the power that music can have in such an uncertain and difficult time for so many and brought goosebumps to the entire audience. Another highlight came when Dime a Dozen welcomed back a number of alumni of the organization to sing one of their regular songs, Rockapella’s “A Change in My Life.”
The night finished with the crowd-pleasing Britney Spears mega-hit “Baby One More Time.” The solo and background parts perfectly captured the mischievous, playful energy of the original and ended the concert on a high note — literally — with the crowd erupting in applause. This concert was a testament to the resilience and dedication of Dime a Dozen’s members. Even after over a year online and the complications of this semester, the group was able to deliver an energetic and strong performance.
On a Sensual Note introduces new members, performs current hits and classics
American University’s oldest a cappella group On A Sensual Note held its “Very Special Holiday Special” in the Kay Spiritual Life Center on Dec. 5.
Donning jeans, white shirts, red-striped ties and black masks, the concert was both a celebration of the return of live music and a reflection of the new normal for many performers. After performing virtually for all of last year, this group of tenors and basses reunited for their first winter concert since the coronavirus pandemic made live music next to impossible a year and a half ago.
Despite these obstacles, On a Sensual Note rose to the occasion pulling no punches for their show that featured skits, comedy, dancing, audience participation, holiday cheer and, most importantly, lots of singing in close harmony. Throughout the first half of the concert, they navigated through a mix of current hits and old favorites. For those into top 40 radio, there was the opening cover of Kacey Musgraves’ pop-country song “High Horse” or the groovy rendition of Silk Sonic’s R&B hit “Leave the Door Open,'' while those more into older music got to hear the catchy Looking Glass tune “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)” and the Beatles’ “All My Loving.” One of the highlights of the concert was OASN’s interpretation of the classic a cappella song “In the Still of the Night,” paying homage to one of the most famous barbershop songs ever.
In the second half, the group replaced its traditional attire with a variety of festive sweaters and holiday garments, transitioning to covers of holiday and Christmas songs. There was the ominous “You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch” featuring a bass solo by senior Tobey Noble, and later the cozy ballad “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” to get everyone into the holiday spirit. However, the most memorable part of the night was during “Jingle Bell Rock” when the singers recreated the iconic dance scene from “Mean Girls,” which was greeted by thunderous applause from the audience.
Even with all of the comedy and antics, this felt like an incredibly personal performance for On a Sensual Note. Due to the complications last year, the group welcomed seven new members to their first winter concert as a result of having two classes of members in their first semesters of live singing. From the energy of the performance, it became clear how excited both the new and old members were to be singing live again, and the camaraderie between the members could be felt from the audience. In no moment was this more apparent than during their sendoff to graduating senior Cannon Haworth, who they tributed through a funny but heartfelt roast.
The night ended after On a Sensual Note called up their alumni to sing “Good Old Acappella,” a yearly tradition for the group that united both past and current members for one final number. While not their flashiest song, it was a heartwarming way to end the night. Both the last number and the performance as a whole were a reminder of the fact that, in a world where distance is often a fact of life, there is an energy and a happiness that we gain from coming together, whether through music or some other means, that cannot be replaced.
Treble in Paradise shares new and old favorites in a celebratory return
AU’s female-identifying a cappella group Treble in Paradise showcased its semester performance “Winter in Paradise” at the Kay Spiritual Life Center on Dec. 10.
Wearing all-black ensembles and hot pink high heels, their singing and dancing encapsulated the exciting before-break energy with past, present and new members joining in. The setlist had a mix of genres with a little bit of something for everyone. Treble in Paradise put new spins on well-known songs giving them a breath of fresh air. Their first song was a pitch-perfect cover of “Breathin” by Ariana Grande. The night continued with a beautifully harmonized, balanced arrangement of “Blue Christmas” by Elvis, an angelic and compelling rendition of “Kissing Other People” by Lennon Stella and a joyful, powerful performance of “Watermelon Sugar” by Harry Styles.
The message the group wanted to share with the AU community was clear:
“Because this is the first in-person semester we’ve had in a while, we wanted to really come back with a bang, we wanted to celebrate everybody safely being able to be in a room together,” said Grace Engler, a senior in the School of Communication and a singer and former E-Board member of Treble in Paradise. “So I think that’s why we combined some newer stuff that we were debuting this semester with older favorites that we’ve done before.”
The group’s vibe throughout the evening put the full-house audience in the winter spirit, keeping the excitement and energy alive through interactive snapping, movement, and phenomenal acoustics. Treble in Paradise also introduced new members, with “Winter in Paradise” being the second official set sung with the group.
“I wanted to join because I wanted to be involved with something that included singing on campus because I’ve been doing choir and chorus all throughout high school and middle school,” said Maya Kedarmehl, a freshman in the Kogod School of Business, and a new singer with Treble in Paradise. “I’ve had a really positive experience. Every girl is so nice and it’s just such an awesome experience.”
Before rounding out the night with Taylor Swift’s “Don’t Blame Me,” Treble took a quick intermission three quarters through their performance to pay a heartfelt and teary goodbye and thanks to Engel, a senior. Finishing the night with a deafening standing ovation, Treble’s performance melts the stress away and definitely brought listeners to a paradise removed from the chilly winter. With sopranos, altos and every belt range in between, Treble in Paradise is the group to watch.