HomeJohns Hopkins A Cappella Scene Boasts Variety

Amy Malkoff's picture

A tribute to the talent of the Vocal Chords
was the guest group, the Captial Greens from all the way out at
Michigan State. Groups just don't make 12-hour drives for nothing.

The Caps, as they call themselves, sang a few pop songs. Their
highlight was Michelle Branch's "Are You Happy Now," sung by a
dark-voiced female soloist. Though they came from afar, the group did
not measure up to the energy and talnt of the hometown Vocal Chords.

Perhaps what makes the Vocal Chords such a great crowd pleaser is
their chemistry on stage. As described by sophomore member Lauren
Links, "I think it is our love and enjoyment of each other that makes
us so successful. We're really growing musically, but our chemistry is
exploding this year, especially with the addition of three wonderful
freshmen." No freshmen had solos, so the strength they add to the group
is yet to be seen.

The rest of the Vocal Chords set was characterized by a variety of
music, not always perfectly executed, but obviously difficult, with
complex arrangements and wide vocal ranges. An excellent example of
this was the group's closing song, Queen's "Somebody to Love."
Sophomore Laura Peralta's stunning solo voice was often overshadowed by
the intricate arrangement.

But the risks the group took to perform different and sophisticated
music are worth all the effort when they nail it, as they did with U2's
"Beautiful Day," sung by Kris Kortez.

The concert was broken up by the comedic relief of senior Roy
Blumenfeld pantomiming and doing sound effects such as, "a goat at the
dentist" and "a chicken at the gynecologist."

Group members also read e-mails they received from their Web site's
contact link. DeVre Online University asked all the Vocal Chords to
transfer. And in keeping with the friendly competition between a capella groups, the Mental Notes sent a brief note: "Your mom." To which the Vocal Chords replied: "Who's your daddy?"

Octopodes sang on Saturday night to another packed house of avid
fans. The Octopodes are a relatively young group of fourteen singers,
mostly freshmen and sophomores who are just as enthusiastic about a cappella as ever. The group has released two albums and has a repertoirethat consists of mainly top-40 pop hits.

They opened with three songs, the best of which was Michelle Branch's a cappella staple
"Are You Happy Now," sung by freshman Sarah Feinmark. With six new
Octopodes, the ensemble relied heavily on the recent members to
energize the group, and Sarah did not disappoint. The Cornell Chordials
then took the stage. Dressed almost exactly like the Octopodes, except
in red and black instead of the Octopodes' sginiture blue ensambles, it
seemed like a scene from a parallel universe.

However, the Chordials showed that the resemblance stopped there
with a set of blues, gospel and rock songs. They stole the audience's
attention with strong, bold soloist and less complicated but well
blended back-ups.

Despite occasional intonation problems, the Chordials were
excellent crowd pleasers and received a standing ovation. Someone
yelled, "Top that, Octopodes!"

The Octopodes returned to a revved up audience and didn't disappoint
on Rachel Burkey's "My Last Breath," by Evanescence. However, the
subsequent songs dwindled in energy, with the soloists too quiet and
the arrangements too complicated to figure out what was going on. That
is, until the boys kicked the girls out for an Octopodes original, "The
Hollander Song." Seems the group discovered something the Allnighters
already knew -- no one can resist a bunch of guys singing.

The concert ended on a strong note with its last few songs. Junior
Kyle Menze's beautiful and cutting soprano drew the most applause on
"Black Roses Red" by Alana Grace, and junior Shivank Gupta brought much
needed energy to the set with Maroon 5's "Through With You." Driven by
the high-powered soloists the Octopodes came together and blended to
create that intense and professional sound that the group is known for
so well.

The effort that went into both the Vocal Chords' and Octopodes'
concerts was extremely evident in both performances. Groups suffered
"hell weeks" of daily multiple hour rehearsals, but it was definitely
worth the effort.

 Reprinted with permission from the Johns Hopkins News-Letter: http://www.jhunewsletter.com/vnews/display.v/ART/2005/12/09/4399f567c97df