On November 21, the a cappella groups of Ridgewood High School came together to perform songs they had been practicing since the end of September. The Acabellas, Maroon Men, East 627, and The Trebles made their debut performances of this school year in the Little Theatre at 7pm. A cappella is a style of singing composed solely of the human voice, meaning that there is no instrumental accompaniment. To compensate for the lack of instruments, a cappella singers emulate instrumental sounds using their own voices, producing a unique style of harmony. While this method of making music may sound simple, it is actually quite difficult and complex, which is why the Ridgewood a cappella groups are highly selective, only accepting around 15 applicants each year. All of these groups include a mix of ages, from freshmen to seniors.
The groups performed chart toppers and throwback songs at this concert. East 627 sang “For The Longest Time” by Billy Joel and “Accidentally In Love” by Counting Crows. The Trebles performed a medley of “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley and “Staying Alive” by The Bee-Gees, and finished with “Cheap Thrills” by Sia. The Acabellas performed a Shakira melody and “Bottom of the River” by Delta Rae. The Maroon Men sang “Runaround Sue” by Dion and “Freedom” by Anthony Hamilton and Elayna Boynton.
With the rising popularity of shows like Glee, movies like Pitch Perfect, and bands like Pentatonix, it’s no wonder that these a cappella concerts typically sell out quickly. “The excitement is palpable,” says Mia Lowy of The Trebles, “A cappella is unlike any other musical experience and I think that’s why it’s so important to me. To be able to make music with just our voices, with no instruments, is something truly amazing. My favorite piece of music to perform is the national anthem we do. It’s a really cool arrangement with complex chords and it’s just a great piece to have in our back pockets. A cappella is able to create a tight bond between complete strangers because of the pure independence we have on each other. There’s no back up track, no plan B, just each other to trust.”
This concert was just the first of many opportunities that the students and faculty have to hear the a cappella groups this year. The Trebles are singing for the Board of Education on December 19th and all the groups will perform at the December Choir Concert, Celebration of the Arts in the late spring, and the June Choir Concert
As stated before, a cappella has played an increasingly large part in pop culture today. Technological advances within the past decade have enabled a cappella groups from all over the world to share their music on platforms like YouTube and iTunes, providing ample opportunity for artists to hear each other, compare performances, draw inspiration, and innovate based upon what they hear from their fellow artists. It was only a matter of time until the media brought this style of music into the mainstream, with television shows like Glee and NBC’s The Sing-Off, and movies like Pitch Perfect, which made over $65 million at the box office and even produced a top-10 single “Cups” by Anna Kendrick. Pentatonix, the winners of The Sing-Off in 2011, have the 13th most subscribed musical channel of YouTube, have amassed over 1.8 billion total views on their YouTube channel, and have won the Grammy for Best Arrangement for the past two years.
The rebirth of a cappella music will be a defining characteristic of our generation in music history. The uniqueness of a cappella songs makes their live performances even more remarkable.
Graphics: Brianna Patek