A cappella has had a rich tradition in Boston: Many professional groups that we listen to today originated in Boston. One of CASA’s biggest a cappella festivals, Boston Sings (BOSS), is held in Boston. Some of the great collegiate groups that we admire come from Boston or colleges near and around Boston.
We can add another milestone to Boston’s a cappella history today: Boston is the home of the newest group in the Contemporary A Cappella League, Fermata Town.
After the break up of the Boston all-male group, The Testostertones, four a cappella enthusiasts, including Dan Campagna, the group’s Business Manager and Founder with whom I had been corresponding, actively recruited a new group of post-collegiate singers in 2009 who wanted to step up their level of musicality. With new singers, both male and female, gathered together, the group chose the name “Fermata Town” because they thought it would be funny to perform in Boston and tell people they were Fermata Town. (Get it?)
For the first three years, the group struggled like any other post-collegiate group: They had a revolving roster of members, some group members couldn’t commit to the high level of musicality, and life just got in the way. With their rocky start behind them, they have now risen to the level they sought for so many years. They officially became a member of the Contemporary A Cappella League. In 2012, they recorded and released their first CD, “Hold That Thought.” In April 2013, just several days before this article was written, “Hold That Thought” won the CARA award for best Contemporary A Cappella League album, and the group won the Boston Regional Harmony Sweepstakes, and will fly to San Rafael, California to compete for the national title [ed. note: FT came in third, and won Best Original Song].
How did a group so young achieve so many feats in such a short amount of time? Dan thinks it’s a combination of support and advice from top a cappella studios such as Tim Bongiovanni of Northgate Productions, Liquid 5th, Clear Harmonies, and Vocal Mastering, a great team of musical directors (Philipp Walzer and Katya Dreyer-Oren), and several group members who all have a cappella arranging experience. While I combed through the list of members on the group’s website, I noticed that most of the group members have come from strong collegiate a cappella experience, and a few even have music degrees.
For anyone who has never seen them perform live (I did, at BOSS this year), I highly recommend you discover this group by purchasing “Hold That Thought,” on iTunes. It was this masterfully crafted album, with the combination of popular songs, jazz inflections, scat solos, and very creative arrangements, that grabbed my attention right away. After listening to hundreds of a cappella albums in my lifetime, “Hold That Thought” was like a breath of fresh air. This group is taking a lot of risks, and it looks like they are paying off.
You may not know who Fermata Town is yet, but mark my words: You will soon.
If you want to learn more about Fermata Town, visit their website: www.fermatatown.com
Learn more about the Contemporary A Cappella League (CAL)
[photo by Michael Eldredge]
About the writer:
Marc Silverberg is a doctoral fellow at Five Towns College. He is the author of “Quest for the A cappella Major,” a blog that discusses the continuing education of contemporary a cappella music and group improvisation. He has presented workshops on vocal improvisation at several CASA.org sponsored festivals, as well as the American Choral Directors Association’s 2013 national convention. His CAL Group, Satellite Lane, was recently crowned the 2013 New York Harmony Sweepstakes “Audience Favorite,” as well as the recipient of “Best Arrangement.” In addition to being an a cappella clinician, conductor, and performer, he also writes original musicals and plays. His original work, He’s Not Himself, premiered Off-Broadway in 2012 as part of the New York Music Theatre Festival. He is a graduate of the University of Delaware and Westminster Choir College.