A CaPittsburgh showcases campus talent

Coed a cappella group The Treblemakers gave a vibrant set featuring gifted soloists. (credit: Jason  Chen/Staff Photographer) Coed a cappella group The Treblemakers gave a vibrant set featuring gifted soloists. (credit: Jason Chen/Staff Photographer)

Counterpoint, Carnegie Mellon’s all-female a cappella group, hosted its annual A CaPittsburgh event in Rangos Hall last Saturday night, showcasing the talents of all the different a cappella groups on campus. This year’s theme was “Music is everyone’s possession,” and the proceeds from the event went to Landfill Harmonic, a group that salvages garbage and reworks it into musical instruments for worldwide distribution.

The event was a great opportunity to see the diversity and excellence of the a cappella community and witness part of the musicians’ world. It was incredibly engaging because the members of each group appeared to be having fun, looking tight-knit and as they bounced to the beat of the songs.

Counterpoint opened and closed the night, setting a precedent for the lighthearted feel of the evening and each group’s excitement to perform. They were incredibly energetic from the very beginning, with their mashup “Stereo Hearts of Fame,” to the very end with a spirited version of “Wannabe” by the Spice Girls. They also performed “Home” with two soulful and hilarious soloists — senior communication design and human-computer interaction double major Maggie Bignell and first-year mechanical engineering and biomedical engineering double major Leo Zubillaga — and a beautiful rendition of “Trouble Is a Friend” by sophomore voice major Samantha Kronenfeld.

After Counterpoint’s opening number, the Treblemakers took the stage with inflatable instruments, immediately indicative of the character of the group. This spirit was certainly showcased in their first song, “Love Shack.” The rendition featured beautiful harmonies by first-year undeclared CIT student Sage Yort and first-year undeclared MCS student Kate Borst and a strong, entertaining performance by junior materials science and engineering major Jonathan Touchette. The group continued with a lovely version of The Hush Sound’s “Tidal Wave” and ended strong with a clear, beautiful performance of Adele’s “Skyfall.” Soloist and junior vocal performance major Bridget McCoy was incredible, and the arrangement of the backup vocals fit together perfectly.

Deewane, Carnegie Mellon’s all-male South Asian a cappella group, brought some international flavor with songs that fused Eastern and Western music very successfully. Their performances were light and gentle on the whole, with the exception of their last song, “Treasure,” which featured a lot of body and personality from soloists Haris Usmani, a master’s student in music, and senior psychology major Shawn Gupta.

Christian a cappella group Joyful Noise performed their first two songs, Imagine Dragon’s “Demons” and Poison’s “Something to Believe In,” in a clear and sweet manner. With their last song, they continued Deewane’s international theme with “Baba Yutu,” the Swahili translation of the Lord’s Prayer. This group truly performed as a unit, and its members seemed have a lot of confidence in each other.

The Soundbytes were a unit in a different way — like one organism breathing, moving, and singing as one. Their arrangements were layered to perfection, allowing solos to break out when advantageous and folding them into the other vocals at other times. Their performance featured a good set list arranged in unique, well-thought-out ways. They began with a bashful but deeply beautiful performance of “Used to Love You” by first-year architecture major Quinton Laurencio and continued with the heart-wrenchingly clear voice of soloist and senior computer science major Tyler Hedrick. Their set ended with the high-energy performance of “Candy Man” with three vocalists — undeclared CIT first-year Alexis De La Rosa, junior Bachelor of Computer Science and Arts student Divya Mouli, and junior psychology major Jaclyn Ross — blended to perfection, with Ross offering mind-boggling notes à la Christina Aguilera.

All-male group The Originals was another ensemble that worked as one. The background vocals took a front seat in their performances, being intricate, interesting, and incredibly attuned to each other. This musicality was accented by their uniform movement as they sang. Their soloists were incredibly talented, and sophomore vocal performance major Albert Stanley gave a strong performance with a lot of personality that had the audience laughing. Their “I Wish/Wild Wild West” mashup was arranged especially skillfully.

Also featured on the program was the University of Pittsburgh’s PalPITTations, a guest group of Pitt graduate students. This group was more closed off to the audience, but the soloists opened up in very emotional ways. Most notably, during the group’s performance of “Creep,” soloist Lindsay Johnson sang with a lot of feeling, and every note was punctuated by strong body language.

Throughout the night, the groups had the audience dancing in their seats, clapping along, and even crying at times. As each group brought its own flavor to the stage, audience members were able to see the common musicality and excitement of the night shine through, although each group took a different approach. The evening was an entertaining and enjoyable event that showcased remarkable talent while giving back to the musical community.