The spring a cappella rush concert kicked off the University of Connecticut A Cappella Assocation’s audition process a bit later than expected this semester, but the 10 groups were grateful to perform in person and to recruit members all the same. Originally scheduled for the night of Feb. 4, last Friday’s icy weather caused UCACA to reschedule the concert for the afternoon of Feb. 6 in von der Mehden Recital Hall. Each a cappella group performed two songs so potential auditioners can learn more about the different groups’ styles and preferences. Friends, family and aspiring a cappella members enjoyed the glimpse into each group’s music.
“It lets [the auditioners] get a feel and a vibe for the groups, let’s them see what kind of music they sing,” Zachary Kenney, an eighth-semester music and business major, said. He serves as UCACA president and assistant music director for the Rolling Tones. “[Auditioning] is a pretty rigorous process, it’s a lot of late nights with callbacks on Wednesday and Thursday.”
The coed a cappella groups include Extreme Measures, Notes Over Storrs, Husky Hungama, the Rolling Tones and A Minor. Rubyfruit, the Chordials and Drop the Bass welcome female-identifying students, while A Completely Different Note and the Conn-Men welcome male-identifying students.
“IT LETS [THE AUDITIONERS] GET A FEEL AND VIBE FOR THE GROUPS, LET’S THEM SEE WHAT KIND OF MUSIC THEY SING. [AUDITIONING] IS A PRETTY RIGOROUS PROCESS, IT’S A LOT OF LATE NIGHTS WITH CALLBACKS ON WEDNESDAY AND THURSDAY.”Zachary Kenney
“I came because I have a friend [i]n the Conn Men, but all the performances were awesome,” Alex Kim, an eighth-semester finance major, said. “This was my first time going to an a cappella concert, but it was cool to listen to the many talented singers on this campus.”
Clad in their group colors of black and purple, coed Notes Over Storrs kicked off the concert with Lawrence’s “Me and You” and Jacob Collier’s “All I Need.”
“Everyone did absolutely amazing today so I couldn’t be happier! I’m so glad the concert was still able to happen in person, I think it really changes how prospective auditionees experience all of the groups for the first time,” Malcolm Patel, an eighth-semester physiology and neurobiology major, said. He was a soloist in Notes Over Storrs’ performance. “Notes Over Storrs has been my family since freshman year, and I definitely hope to grow this family a little after auditions this week!”
Other eighth-semester students in NOS commented on the group’s camaraderie.
“Being in a cappella, specifically NOS, has been the best part of my college experience,” Rebecca Mailhot, an eighth-semester nutritional sciences major and psychology minor, said. A sixth-semester member of NOS, she serves as the group’s treasurer. “It has been incredible meeting so many people — while we share a love for music, we are also are very different and unique! Because of the pandemic, I am grateful for any chance we have at a live performance these days, so I’m so glad we were able to have the rush concert today to mark the start of another great semester!”
“everyone did absolutely amazing today so i couldn’t be happier! i’m so glad the concert will still be able to happen in person, i think it really changes how prospective auditionees experience all of the groups for the first time. notes over storrs has been my family since freshman year, and i definitely hope to grow this family a little after auditions this week!”Malcolm Patel
The president of NOS echoed her members’ sentiments, appreciating the opportunity to perform in person.
“Joining college a cappella was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made,” Julie Borsotti, an eighth-semester theater studies and communications major, said. “I am so grateful that I get to do what I love — sing and perform — alongside my best friends. NOS is truly family. We have worked so hard and grown so much as a group. There have been a lot of bumps in the road with the pandemic going on but it was so great to be back performing in person today at the rush concert and I really look forward to more performances and the rest of the semester!”
Following the all-female Chordials, the all-male Conn-Men brightened the stage with Andy Grammar’s “Fine By Me” and Fun’s “Some Nights.” Tucker Rathe, an eighth-semester structural biology and biophysics major, served as the soloist for the former, while Noah Frank, an eighth-semester political science and economics major, served as the soloist for the latter.
“The rush concert is a really important event for a cappella at UConn not only because it brings people together, [but] because it [also] is the main event for recruiting new members,” Noah Frank, a tenor and music director of the group, said. “After nearly two years into the pandemic, all 10 groups singing together in one space is something that was especially moving to see…I know our group had a blast and we are excited for a great semester ahead!”
“JOINING COLLEGE A CAPPELLA WAS ONE OF THE BEST DECISIONS I’VE EVER MADE. I AM SO GRATEFUL THAT I GET TO DO WHAT I LOVE — SING AND PERFORM — ALONGSIDE MY BEST FRIENDS. NOS IS TRULY FAMILY. WE HAVE WORKED SO HARD AND GROWN SO MUCH AS A GROUP. THERE HAVE BEEN A LOT OF BUMPS IN THE ROAD WITH THE PANDEMIC GOING ON BUT IT WAS SO GREAT T6O BE BACK PERFORMING IN PERSON TODAY AT THE RUSH CONCERT AND I REALLY LOOK FORWARD TO MORE PERFORMANCES AND THE REST OF THE SEMESTER!”Julie Borsotti
Husky Hungama, UConn’s only South Asian fusion group, melded Sia’s “Elastic Heart” with traditional South Asian music. A Completely Different Note, UConn’s oldest all-male group, swept the stage with dapper suits and upbeat songs.
Clad in striking pink and black, all-female Rubyfruit performed “Archie, Marry Me,” originally by Flyte, and “You Know I’m No Good,” originally by Amy Winehouse. The former featured soloist Caitlin Daddona with a trio containing sixth-semester students Audrey Rivetta and Stephanie Siracuse and fourth-semester student Linda Nelson.
“[It’s] so cool to be a part of an organization of singing people, where each performance means even more post-COVID,” Daddona, an eighth-semester environmental sciences major and sociology minor, said. “Empowering ourselves and other groups is just so energizing.”
Fourth-semester student Zoe Raposo served as the soloist for Rubyfruit’s latter song, backed by Nelson for vocal percussion.
“Being a part of Rubyfruit has been a life-changing experience,” Elyze Joyce Amora, an eighth-semester nursing major and president of Rubyfruit, said. “It encompasses a varying group of inspiring, talented and unique women, which greatly correlates to our roots of female empowerment and passion for music. There is no better feeling than to be up on stage singing and being ourselves when we’re all together.”
The Rolling Tones performed a cheerful set of Dua Lipa’s “Levitating” and King Harvest’s “Dancing in the Moonlight,” while the all-female Drop the Bass’ set was emotional and poignant.
“[it’s] so cool to be a part of an organization of singing people, where each performance means even more post-covid. empowering ourselves and other groups is just so energizing.”Daddona
“I love watching all of these talented students come together, especially Rebecca and Julie, to create magic on stage!” Jordan Theroux, a seventh-semester allied health sciences major, said. She is roommates with Mailhot and Borsotti. “They bring great energy every time I see them perform!”
A Minor, UConn’s oldest coed a cappella group, proved there’s strength in numbers with one of the largest groups on stage Sunday afternoon. Performing “Follow the Light,” originally by Cory Wong, and “Dancing by the Devil,” originally by Demi Lovato, the group’s dynamic movement reflected the singers’ masterful vocals. Creating weaving circles and dramatic lines in time with the music, A Minor similarly closed out the concert in dramatic fashion.
“A cappella has shaped my UConn experience for the last four years,” Tommy Dowd, an eighth-semester political science and economics major, said. He is also an eighth-semester member of A Minor, formerly serving as president. “It has allowed me to keep doing something I love while meeting some of my best friends.”
“being a part of rubyfruit has been a life-changing experience. It encompasses a varying group of inspiring, talented and unique women, which greatly correlates to our roots of female empowerment and passion for music. There is no better feeling than to be up on stage singing and being ourselves when we’re all together.”Elyze Joyce Amora
Each group may have slightly different processes, but in general, interested students must submit an audition video by 11:59 p.m. on Feb. 7. To move forward in the process, some auditioners will attend callback auditions in the music building on Wednesday and Thursday.
“After they’re done with callbacks, [auditioners] can fill out a preference sheet of who they like the best out of all the groups they were called back for,” Kenney explained. “We come together as an organization, and the groups put who they want on the board. If two groups want the same person, we go into the preference sheet and validate and find out their top choice, and that’s the group they end up in.”
Kenney explained UCACA’s adaptations to COVID restrictions during last year’s audition process.
“Our vice president last year, Marc Sokolson, is very well-versed in audio and video editing and we commissioned him to put together a virtual rush concert where we all recorded videos with our individual parts,” Kenney said. “He went in over a course of a couple of weeks and put together 10 completely unique, professional music videos.”
The university’s code red status at the beginning of the spring semester required the concert to be moved from its original date and location, Jan. 28 in Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts. However, in general, Kenney described how UCACA has been able to recruit and perform in a similar capacity to pre-COVID, with virtual initial auditions to “reduce traffic in the music building.”
“The rush concert was a great showcase of talent, and I enjoyed all the performances,” Shreya Sreenivas, an eighth-semester physiology and neurobiology and computer science major, said.