HomeHarmonics: out to change what you know about a cappella

Amy Malkoff's picture

Bill Hare: Last year, CASA awarded the Stanford Harmonics (via the JAMAA) a grant to buy some sound equipment to lead collegiate A Cappella in a new direction.  They finally debuted it last week - it was quite a show - my ears are still ringing!  Here's what the Stanford Daily had to say:

By Nina Duong

Last Saturday night, I entered Manzanita Dining to find it completely transformed by the eerie glow of blue and green lights and looming digital sound equipment. I found one thing to be certain — this was not your ordinary university a cappella concert. That night, Stanford Harmonics presented “ShamRock,” a show that delivered vocal rock with the intensity and heart-pounding exhilaration that Harmonics is well known for. Fresh off of the release of their new album, “Escape Velocity,” along with four nominations for the 2009 Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards (CARA), the Harmonics were more than ready to rock out.

The evening began with a performance from Stanford Taiko, who nearly blew the audience members out of their seats with two ear-splitting, earth-shaking pieces. Not to be outdone, Stanford Harmonics took to the stage and gave a performance worthy of their concert slogan: “Everything you know about a cappella is about to change.” Their first song began with sounds of white noise and radio transmission that was produced by the singers themselves. Equipped with individual microphones, the singers then launched into full vocal harmonies complemented by beat-boxing. Harmonics is known throughout the a cappella community for their impressively accurate emulation of musical instruments, especially the pulsating bass and the vibrato of the electric guitar. Harmonics also make no short use of technical equipment; they installed booming amps on either side of the stage and a soundboard at the back of the room.

In additional to the sound equipment, there was also remarkable lighting (including lasers!) in the background. Throughout the concert, these effects greatly enhanced the mood of the pieces, highlighting certain areas of stage choreography and adding that extra touch of drama that the audience went wild for. Certain crowd pleasers included a cover of Kevin Rudolf’s “Let It Rock” and a mash-up of Aerosmith’s “Dream On” and Eminem’s “Sing for the Moment.” At times, the atmosphere became like that of a rock concert, with audience members dancing and cheering loudly. Kate McGrath ‘10 brought down the house with her powerful belt in Evanescence’s “Whisper,” while Erica Lozoya ‘10 wowed the audience with her soulful alto voice. Even with his voice enhanced by the use of a synthesizer, the musicality and stage presence of sophomore Davey Feder was unmistakable.

The group sound was blended extremely well, and it’s easy to tell that the members of the Stanford Harmonics make up a tight-knit group that knows how to have fun together on stage. This was especially apparent during the gospel-influenced “A Change in My Life,” when a handful of past members, decked in St. Patrick’s attire, climbed onstage, exchanged some greetings and hugs and proceeded to back up soloist Robbie Ruelas ‘11 with an alumni song.

The Harmonics wrapped up the night with “Sound of Silence,” nominated for Best Song and Arrangement by the CARA — and deservingly so. Simon and Garfunkel’s soft, acoustic piece was brilliantly transformed into a rocking, show-stopping number that retained the haunting tones of the original song. Although the show ended with a collective exhaling whisper, the powerful force of “ShamRock” will certainly linger.

Originally written for The Stanford Daily, and first published Mar 11, 2009: http://www.stanforddaily.com/cgi-bin/?p=3287

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ShamROCK videos

Videos of ShamROCK can be seen at the Harmonics' YouTube account, at:

www.youtube.com/user/StanfordHarmonics

-Davey Feder, '11
The Stanford Harmonics: 2007-Present
http://www.stanfordharmonics.com

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