Published: Monday, September 23, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 23, 2013 22:09
You might be surprised to discover how much equipment certain musicians need to make music. As I’ve stated in previous columns, I grew up playing the violin, a relatively small and light stringed instrument. I had to lug it to and from school on buses for years, but in hindsight, it wasn’t that cumbersome. When my younger brother was old enough to pick an instrument in elementary school, he chose the drums. What started out as two sticks and a drum pad shoved into his backpack has quickly erupted and taken over my parents’ house.
Marimba. Snare. Vibraphone. Wood block. Djembe. These are just a few of the instruments percussionists are required to haul around from gig to gig — not to mention the different skills and techniques required to master each one. When I compare my brother’s army of instruments to my main form of art, dance, I’m taken aback. The only tool I need to perform is my body. While my brother can certainly please an audience with those two sticks and a drum pad, the results just aren’t the same without his heavy equipment.
Singing is another performance art that only requires the human body. While additional instruments, props and tools can certainly be incorporated, they’re not necessary. A cappella groups, for example, emulate the sounds of instruments using only their voices. They create the effect of a band full of warmth and color without any accompaniment. I find this truly remarkable.
Vocal Point is one of many a cappella groups on campus. They are a co-ed ensemble that sings a wide variety of contemporary music at concerts and events throughout the year. Auditions are held at the beginning of every semester, and students are asked to either sing a song they love that shows off their personalities or to beatbox. I spoke with senior Jon Smith about his involvement in the group.
This is Smith’s third year as music director of Vocal Point. Even though it’s only September, he says the group has already performed at various gigs around campus. They sang for the UD Day of Service, Hen Fest and the first annual Music Major Carnival and performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the Wilmington American Heart Association walk, Smith says.
Vocal Point was founded in 1998. Despite being a presence at the university for 15 years, Smith says Vocal Point is recording their first album this year.
“We have about $8,000 to raise for the process, so that’s our main goal right now, but we’re so excited to get started on this project,” Smith says. “Every college a cappella group that wants to remain competitive against the rest needs to have one, and now we finally will.”
Vocal Point is already a competitive ensemble, and they represent the university at the International Championships of Collegiate A Cappella competition. Last semester they won their quarterfinal, beating nine other groups in the area to secure a spot in the Mid-Atlantic Semifinals, Smith says. They went on to compete against some of the best a cappella groups in our region.
“Acappellooza” is Vocal Point’s annual celebration of a cappella music. This year’s event is on Oct. 19 at 7:30 p.m. in Loudis Recital Hall. Featured guest groups include the Johns Hopkins University Octopodes, Salisbury University’s Squawkapella, Rutgers University’s Casual Harmony and the university’s Deltones, Smith says.
Vocal Point’s fall concert is Nov. 17 at 3 p.m. in Mitchell Hall.
Vocal Point is hosting a fundraiser today at Cheeburger Cheeburger on Main Street from 4-7p.m. Smith says the group is also providing entertainment for the Resident Student Association Inaugural Ball this week.
“We hope that everyone enjoys our music, and we will continue to share our music around campus as much as possible,” Smith says.