A cappella resonates

On an ominous Friday the thirteenth of Novemeber, the on-campus a cappella group, the Rensselyrics, hosted a show in the Chapel+Cultural Center entitled (Un)Lucky in Love with guest appearances by other on-campus a capella groups, Partial Credit and Duly Noted. The songs chosen for their setlist were centered around the concept of love, be it broken, fulfilled, or unrequited. Their choices varied from pop favorites, to obscure alternative; because such different categories were acknowledged, I shall review those categories separately.

Beloved oldies, such as “Why Should I Cry for You” by Sting, “Kiss Me” by Sixpence None the Richer, and “Stacy’s Mom” by Fountains of Wayne were executed beautifully. “Why Should I Cry for You” was a somber, haunting piece that had chills coursing my skin; it was done in a more traditional choir fashion and had minimal choreography and facial expression. “Kiss Me” was jovial, with alto Kelsey Ham ’16 singing the solo. Supporting her, the Rensselyrics employed homogenous tone color, allowing her to not be overpowered. “Stacy’s Mom”, with its uplifting beat and comedic performances by the Rensselyrics, had the audience laughing and clapping along.

While I’m a huge fan of the choral style that the Rensselyrics utilize, I’m not overly impressed when that style is coupled with pop songs that are upbeat and require much “beat-boxing.” However, in “Stacy’s Mom”, that problem didn’t exist. It did in the Rensselyrics’ rendition of “Rude” by MAGIC! Soprano Emma Speaks ’19 soloed well in “Rude” displaying a capacity for a deeper range for a soprano, but I felt that the style of the accompaniment was awkward in juxtaposition.

Newer love songs that were successes included a mash-up of “Stay” by Rihanna and “Stay with Me” by Sam Smith, and “Blue Ocean Floor” by Justin Timberlake. The complexity of these pieces, along with the superbly executed choreography, made for perfection. In “Stay/Stay with Me,” Ham and alto Grace Rugaber ’18 appealed to the audience in an interesting clash of singing styles in their duet. Ham’s voice is light and whole, reminiscent of Florence + The Machine, while Rugaber’s is darker and more melodic. Tenor Ajay Sharma ’15 enacted a perfect JT impersonation in his solo during “Blue Ocean Floor,” hitting high, sweet notes with accuracy and charm.

Lesser known pieces included “Your Call” by Secondhand Serenade, “Honeybee” by Steam Powered Giraffe, and “Ugly-Pretty” by Christine and the Queens. As a fan of Secondhand Serenade, I had rather high hopes for this piece. The result was a notch under what I was expecting, although still a well-done ensemble, with solos by Jonathan Gottwald ’17, Katie Jones ’15, Barret Soisson ’18, and Taylor Methé ’17. The remaining two, however, took me by surprise. “Honeybee,” with solos by Jonathan Williams ’18, Sharma, and August Rulewich ’17, was a testament to a good, old-fashioned love song, with intricate melodies and well-done performances, especially by Williams. “Ugly-Pretty,” another of my favorites of the night, featured Rugaber with the Rensselyrics creating a web of intricately woven voices.

Partial Credit and Duly Noted also performed well that night. Partial Credit had a rocky start but finished strong with a thrilling solo by soprano Claire Thomas ’19. Her high notes were the clearest of the night. Duly Noted upstaged the Rensselyrics with their charismatic exhibition and high energy, and I am looking forward to their concert in Mother’s.

It is clear that all those who performed that night were rich in talent and I am, by far, more than impressed. I encourage any and all to attend a concert in the future.