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A cappella groups welcome auditions as part of their next chapter

With the arrival of Brandeis’ activities fair comes the generalized excitement and optimism that accompanies a new year. First-years who were very active in their high school clubs hope to continue that same level of involvement in college, oftentimes to an even higher degree, and thus sign up to practically every listserv out there. Even though they might not be all that interested in pottery or belly dancing, they might consider going to one or two club meetings, because undiscovered passions are a college student’s right to explore.

The same is true for a cappella. With so many a cappella groups on campus—Brandeis is home to an outrageous 15 in total—Brandeis has the most a cappella groups per capita compared to all other U.S. colleges. Given that there are so many a cappella groups, it’s around this time of year that Brandeis is not unlike the movie Pitch Perfect—there’s a real push to recruit and find the vocal talent hidden among the masses circulating the activities fair. A cappella groups wrestle over the incoming first-year body to add to their club. That isn’t an overstatement either; first-years will typically audition for multiple a cappella groups and then must choose the one they prefer. The pressure is enormous and the decision final.

With names like Ba’Note, Rather Be Giraffes, and Too Cheap for Instruments, groups have a specific genre of music that they specialize in, from oldies music to folk to pop music. Some groups are co-ed and others are all-female or all-male, and still others are Jewish affiliated. It probably isn’t too strong to say that there’s a group for just about everyone on campus who has an interest in singing. If that isn’t the case, however, it is entirely possible to propose a new a cappella group so long as it is different from other groups and there is interest among the student population to join.

Although different clubs practice for different amounts of time, a cappella groups are a weekly commitment and therefore require a considerable amount of investment on the student’s part. Generally speaking, a cappella groups practice for approximately five to six hours a week, though this number usually increases before a performance. The time commitment might also explain the close bonds that various club members form with each other over the course of the semester.

The a cappella groups on campus have different focuses. Company B, sings songs like Eric Clapton’s “After Midnight” and Elton John’s “Your Song,” primarily focusing on classic hits from at least 25 years ago. A more recent group, founded in 2011, The Freshmen Fifteen is a non-auditioned group that sings a wide range of music including but not limited to contemporary pop, country and folk music. This group is good for those who are interested in a less competitive environment but love to sing and connect with other people on campus. A similar group, No Singer Clef Behind, works in much the same way; it invites students of all levels of experience to join.

The list doesn’t end there. Proscenium, on the other hand, Brandeis’ star musical theater a cappella group, is co-ed, and primarily performs music from musicals. Rather Be Giraffes is a co-ed, all-genre group that prides itself in its cute mascot and versatility. Starving Artists, another co-ed group, is known for it’s eclectic musical choices as well as it’s food drives, all items of which are donated to local charities.

Brandeis’ all-female and all-male groups include Up the Octave, VoiceMale and Too Cheap for Instruments. Up the Octave is an all-female group that performs pop music and Too Cheap for Instruments, another all-female a cappella group, is known for its soulful renditions of both folk and folk pop.

Brandeis also has many options for students who want to join Jewish and otherwise spiritual a cappella groups. Jewish Fella A Cappella is an all-male Jewish group that focuses on Jewish music. Manginah is a co-ed Jewish group that arranges its own music and performs a variety of Jewish music such as Jewish liturgy and prayers, anything composed by Jewish-American songwriters, Israeli pop songs and parodies of popular American songs. Ba’Note is an all-female group that sings both Jewish and non-Jewish songs in Hebrew as well as in English, and Voices of Praise, Brandeis’ only gospel choir, performs spiritual music.

A cappella groups represent a great way to get involved on campus, to meet new people and to have a creative outlet, a chance to decompress, when all the homework and exams have you down. There’s nothing more rewarding than working with others toward a common goal, to blend each individual vocal talent and together to generate a sound that fully discloses each person’s hard work.

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