Daisy Forster & Sultan Chaudhury
Daisy speaks to Sully from the University of Nottingham’s A Cappella Society to find out what it’s like to perform in a real life ‘Pitch Perfect’. Read on to find out more about this unique and contemporary approach to choral singing!
What is A Cappella?
A cappella simply means singing without instrumental accompaniment. The music style has become popular in recent years, mainly due to the Pitch Perfect franchise showcasing the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA). UoN A Cappella is an umbrella society of various independent groups and features as part of a huge network of university a cappella societies across the country and part of an even bigger UK A Cappella scene.
How long has your society been running and how have you developed since then?
The society was founded in 2014 and is now entering its seventh ‘season’ of activity. As a relatively new society which started with only a few groups, the society has grown insanely! At one point we had thirteen groups, each taking the artform in their own direction. This included groups dedicated to classical music, a musical theatre group and even one which recreated popular theme songs that have no lyrics.
We are the biggest university a cappella society in the UK
We are the biggest university a cappella society in the UK and already have a reputation for being the loudest and most sociable university at the many national events which happen in the aca-calendar! Last year we attended the Showcase of Northern A Cappella (nicknamed ‘SNAC’) as a society, both as performers and supporters, and we were also the host city for one of the ICCA semi-finals.
What groups do you have and what is the difference between them?
Each of our groups have their own niches and personalities, but we like to think there is something there for everyone! We have three competitive groups (‘Aca-pocalypse’, ‘Unplugged’ and ‘RadioOctave’) who each offer a different array of repertoire, from indie-pop to cheesey hits. All three of these groups made it to the semi-finals of the ICCAs last year for which we are incredibly proud of them! Our first ever group was ‘Chordally Invited’, who still run as an unauditioned ensemble, are always open to new members!
We like to think that everyone has a group that they can call ‘home’ in our society
We then have a range of auditioned, non-competitive groups who each have varying levels of commitment. ‘Pitch Please’ is an all-female identifying group (the real life Barden Bellas!) and ‘Men to Boys’ as their all-male identifying counterparts. On top of this, there is jazzy group ‘Son of a Pitch’ and small group ‘Cadence’. As you can tell, most of our groups come with a punny name and its always a favourite activity to try and think of more!
We like to think that everyone has a group that they can call ‘home’ in our society, but there is also the possibility of starting new groups! We have lots of resources available to you including workshop materials and arrangements.
Why should people join A Cappella over other music/ performing societies?
Our society has a really supportive atmosphere where everyone of all abilities, personalities and identities are accepted into the aca-family! This society offers a variety of levels of commitment, some of us only want to a couple of hours a week of just singing as part of a group whilst others choose live and breathe a cappella, making it their entire social life… no judgement!
This is a great place to find like-minded individuals, starting with a mutual interest in singing and becoming lifelong friends
We host many opportunities for all groups to perform as well as groups securing their own gigs. If you are looking to perform at a competitive level, there are opportunities to do so here too. This is a great place to find like-minded individuals, starting with a mutual interest in singing and becoming lifelong friends. The society as a whole is also proud to be a very diverse community of individuals, we believe in being as inclusive and supportive as possible in terms of opportunity and wellbeing. Overall, we are a very warm and wholesome environment for one and all! (Even if we do say so ourselves…)
What kind of socials have you run in the past and how often are these?
The aca-calendar had always been packed with regular socials available to all society members. The year usually started with a Scavenger Hunt in the city centre and a Pub Quiz after auditions. We also used to organise many nights out throughout the year and occasional house parties and Concert after parties. Aside from that, we held jam/open mic nights (instruments were allowed) as well as movie nights and daytime meet ups. Along with socials we put on workshops on beatboxing, arranging, vocal health and musical theory as well as many others.
We are enthusiastic about finding more ways to more virtual socials more fun and interactive in the future
Since the majority of socials have now moved online, we have hosted virtual pub quizzes, workshops and games of mafia. We are enthusiastic about finding more ways to more virtual socials more fun and interactive in the future!
On top of whole society socials, each group also runs their own gatherings. Whether it’s the notorious Pitch Please ‘Fat Sh*t Get Together’s where they order every takeaway on Deliveroo or Unplugged meeting up for christmas dinner and boardgames, every group has plenty of fun to offer!
What performance opportunities did you offer pre-COVID-19?
Every year, the society organises Winter and Spring/Summer concerts for each semester, so all groups have an opportunity to perform. Beyond that, some groups organise their own performances including their own fundraising or charity concerts, performances for external events and taking their show to Edinburgh Fringe Festival, which RadioOctave and Aca-Pocalypse have done in the past and had to cancel this year.
How do you plan to run rehearsals and socials while social distancing?
Under the current law we are minimising in-person activities and those that do happen are limited to 6 individuals, so rehearsals will not be as they used to be. Some groups will be running online rehearsals whilst others will rehearse in sectionals with only their part-mates. We will ensure that all activity that happens is done to minimise the risk to all of our members, which is why whole-society in-person socials will not be happening for a while either.
How do I join/audition?
A lot of our events will start free for anyone to attend, and we only require you to buy membership if you choose to perform with the society, add us to your Interest List if you would like to keep informed. We also have our main Facebook group for members to find out about auditions (typically happen in the first few weeks of term) and everything that happens thereafter. If you’re also just looking for a group to sing with without having to audition, Chordally Invited is the largest group in the society and will continue to provide that singing outlet.
We are aiming to make auditioning as easy as possible for our new members this year in the face of social distancing; details will be posted on our Facebook page.
Where can I find more information?
If you would like to know more about the society you can follow our social media accounts, which we update regularly and post weekly memes (please feel free to submit your own!). We also have a website with some more information about the group and will also be updating the SU website with details. Most of the groups have their own social media accounts, so you can message them directly, as well as YouTube channels where they post performances including those from our concerts.
We will be hosting an online try-it session during the first week so you can meet committee and group leaders and see how the society runs.
Sultan Chaudhury & Daisy Forster
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