RFA Hosts Collegiate A Cappella Invitational

RFA Hosts Collegiate A Cappella Invitational
Posted on 02/06/2020
Event RFA Hosts Collegiate A Cappella Invitational

Rome Free Academy’s Rhapsody Show Choir will be hosting its annual Collegiate A Cappella Invitational on Saturday, February 8 at 7:30pm in the RFA Auditorium. Groups from five colleges will be performing, along with a special guest appearance from RFA’s show choir Rhapsody. Tickets are $8 at the door, or $7 in advance at the Jervis Public Library or from members of Rhapsody.

The five college groups coming to participate and compete are the Union College Dutch Pipers, the Skidmore Bandersnatchers, the RPI Rensselyrics, Syracuse University’s Otto Tunes, and the University of Rochester Midnight Ramblers. The groups will be competing against a scoring system compiled by the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA), based on musical elements like intonation, dynamics, tone quality, and interpretation. Adjudicating the event will be Melissa Rashford and Leanna Guerreri. Guerreri holds degrees from the Crane School of Music in Music Education. She teaches music at RFA, and works extensively with a cappella music in her role as the director of the school’s treble choir and Select Choir. Rashford is a graduate of RFA who went on to be the musical director of the Syracuse Mandarins all-female a cappella group, and led them all the way to ICCA Finals. Since then, she has adjudicated several ICCA competitions each year.

Hailing from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy NY, the Rensselyrics are a co-ed a cappella group that sings mainly contemporary music arranged by its members. The 'Lyrics are the oldest a cappella group at RPI, having been born from the original RPI Glee Club (the oldest a cappella group in the country) in 1991. They now perform at many of Rensselaer's campus events and around the area, as well as hosting their own invitational each semester, to which other college groups are also invited to perform.

The Union College Dutch Pipers all-male a cappella group was founded in 1955 when 8 members of the Glee club split off to form the new group. Following the typical TTBB (tenor 1, tenor 2, bass 1, and bass 2) set-up, the Dutch Pipers have been making recordings since the 1960's. They started out in '63 with a vinyl recording named "The Sons of Union Sing", Volume 1. The Union College Dutch Pipers were the 2012 and 2016 Thruway Collegiate A Capella Competition Champions.
The Skidmore Bandersnatchers are Skidmore's best, oldest, and only all-male a cappella group, and an entirely student-run organization. Formed in 1975 as a men's underground bootlegging poetry group, and getting its name from the Lewis Carol poem 'The Jabberwocky', the group has since devolved into singing without women or instruments. The group has produced numerous recordings and is well known on campus, at your local Denny's, and far beyond for its lively performances. Their diverse repertoire ranges from contemporary pop tunes, jazz standards, ‘60’s standards, ‘70’s funk, traditional folk songs, and of course the Skidmore Alma Mater.

Syracuse University’s Otto Tunes are, according to them, “a group of young and beautiful men ready to sing our hearts out for you. After bursting onto the scene in 2011, this group is primed and ready for big things.” This is their first time attending the invitational, so Rhapsody is looking forward to meeting them!

The University of Rochester Midnight Ramblers all-male a cappella group was formed in 1998 in an effort to expand the boundaries of college a cappella. In October, the Ramblers released a 6-track EP called "This Side Up" on which their cover of "Hello" by Adele was named as one of Recorded A Cappella Review Board's Tracks of the Year. They competed in the ICCA in 2016 and came in 2nd place at the Central Region Semifinals.

Performing in exhibition will be RFA’s show choir Rhapsody. Rhapsody was founded by Jake Meiss in 2010. Rhapsody has become a tradition at RFA, performing locally as well as in Massachusetts, Virginia, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Florida, and Toronto, Ontario. As usual, Rhapsody will be performing mash-ups: combinations of songs with similar themes. “I love the variety of styles, genres, and time periods we’re able to pull together,” Meiss said. This year’s set will include music recorded by Kelly Clarkson, Garth Brooks, Rihanna, James Taylor, Lena Horne, Jennifer Lopez, fun., Adele, Daft Punk, Kacey Musgraves, The Pointer Sisters, Britney Spears, and also music from several musicals: West Side Story, The Wizard of Oz, Finding Neverland, and The Muppet Movie. Meiss doesn’t want to reveal the exact titles, though, saying “part of the fun for the audience is being surprised!”

Jake Meiss is the music arranger and choreographer of Rhapsody, and Kristen Meiss and Lori DiBari are production managers. There are 36 vocalists in Rhapsody this year: Jacob Bruder, Liam Butler, Jake Carissimo, Jon Carissimo, Jacob Cosentino, Cooper Engelbert, Connor Evans, Joe Gazzilli, Ryan Grant, Erin Lennon, Alex Linderman, Kevin O’Neil, Hunter Pisaneschi, Enrique Rivera, David Salce, Zach Swistak, Michael Sylvester, Ethan Vernold, Bethany Beeman, Olivia Bauer, Chandni Desai, Jacquelyn Dixon, Katie Dursi, Grace Engelbert, Zoe Fragapane, Taylor Griffin, Lauryn Haag, Giana Kleber, Gianna Maneen, Kayleen Martelli, Abigail Morgan, Giovanna Sudol, Lauren Taylor, Mariah Taylor, Karabrie Wiggins, and Emily Worth. Rhapsody is accompanied by a student combo of Dennis van Hoesel on piano, Patrick O’Neil on drums, Isaiah Farrar on bass, and a horn section of Sven van Hoesel, Nick Ferretti, Madison Short, and Alex Zappavigna.
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