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The Blue & Gray Press | May 25, 2018

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Bella’s fall show falls short

Bella’s fall show falls short


The BellAcappella group put on their fall concert on Nov. 15 at 2 p.m. in Dodd Auditorium. The concert was themed “Southern Bellas” incorporating southern attire and songs.

There were nine songs on the program, which included the following: “Somethin’ Bad” by Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood, “Count on Me” by Bruno Mars, “Ghost” by Ella Henderson, “Panic Cord” by Gabrielle Aplin, “Take Me to Church” by Hozier, “Rather Be” by Clean Bandit, “Girls Chase Boys” by Ingrid Michaelson, “I See Fire” by Ed Sheeran and “Gunpowder and Lead” by Miranda Lambert.

Many of these songs were arranged by members of the BellAcappella group itself, usually featuring one or two soloists. The girls took turns providing soft beats to accompany their selections, creating the illusion of music that a cappella derives much of its intrigue and popularity from.

Despite their use of a nifty pitch-pipe Smartphone App, there were definite pitch issues once in a while; however, the large crowd was extremely supportive, even requesting an encore, which the Bellas met with a rendition of Maroon 5’s 2014 single “Maps.”

Throughout the show, the crowd kept the atmosphere filled with energy, frequently whooping and cheering on the performers. The audience was a hodgepodge of relations to the singers, from roommates and friends, to siblings, parents and grandparents.

Jennifer Dunn and Hope Racine were by far the crowd favorites for soloists, gaining the most applause and named recognition from a variety of audience members.

“I really liked Hope’s performance. This was my first a cappella concert on campus, so I had no expectations, but I was delighted and surprised,” said Noelle Carlson, a sophomore Spanish major.

“My favorite performance was ‘I See Fire,’ and I really like that this is an all-girl group,” said Clara Martin, a sophomore Spanish and English double major.

During the program’s intermission, the University of Mary Washington student and beat-boxer TylaDubya wowed the audience with a short set of amazing, original beats. His use of the sensitivity of a microphone definitely beat that of the Bellas, whose voices were often startlingly loud at moments that would have otherwise been positively show stopping, and contrastingly rather quiet as a group.

While these 16 women are respectable artists and seem individually talented, they could benefit from a better selection of songs to suit the styles and ranges of their members.


  1. Emily Mercer

    Dear Leah Vahjen,

    My name is Emily Mercer and I am a Soprano 1 in this Acappella group you writing about. I am sorry you had a negative experience. You are the only one who did not enjoy the concert. The only negative feedback we have gotten is from you, Ms. Vahjen. Yet, we want to extend kindness to you and invite you back to our next concert. We will now practice knowing how you feel and it will push us that extra mile. With this being said, I do not think I have ever been more proud to say I am in this group. The amount of time and effort put into this concert was beyond compare. We invite you, Ms. Vahjen and everyone else at to school to come to our next concert, if not for our tone come to see our love for acappella and a group of girls having the time of their lives on stage.

    We look forward to your next visit,
    Emily Mercer

  2. This is just bad journalism. If you reported the facts and got some quotes you would be fine. It isn’t fair if the school’s newpaper just trashes our clubs and highlights others. I understand that you should report opinions or reviews, but at least keep it within a reasonable tone. There shouldn’t be favoritism involved here, just journalism. The Blue and Gray highlights one group and attacks another. There must be some agenda here.

  3. Sarah Pollard

    I would just like to say, that I am completely appalled and honestly very offended by this article, and I’m not even in BellAcappella. I am a member of Symfonics, the longest running, co-ed a cappella group at UMW.

    From this article, it seems clear that you have never been in a college a cappella group. If you have never been in an a college cappella group, I do not feel that your biased, subjective, personal opinion should be representative of the performance of a group, for the entire school to see.

    Assuming that you have not been in a college a cappella group, I will also assume that you are basing your expectations of a cappella off of the movie “Pitch Perfect” or from the increasingly popular famous a cappella group, “Pentatonix”. If this is what you think a cappella sounds like, then you already have incredibly flawed and inaccurate predetermined expectations. College a cappella groups are performing live, don’t get endless recordings when they mess up, and don’t get to be auto-tuned. Pitch problems happen. They even happen with highly-trained vocalists and famous artists, even with the music playing in their ear. When a group is given one pitch and is expected to sing a whole song from that, you can’t expect every single pitch in every single song, from every single individual to be exact.

    Performing in front of an audience takes a lot of courage. To stand up in the spotlight, with all eyes on you, and be expected to perform and to sound good and to not let your anxiety affect you is a tremendously difficult task.

    These girls worked extremely hard for an entire semester. In one semester, you deal with auditioning new members to fill empty spots at the beginning of the semester, suggest songs, go through every song and figure out what songs would best suit the group, arrange the songs, audition for solos, memorize the difficult background arrangements, practice multiple times a week, practice on your own because the practices aren’t ever enough, work on trying to perfect the music with pitch, tempo, blending, and deal with a lot of frustration when these things go awry. All of this hard work builds up to one big night, when the group has one performance to show everything that they have worked so hard for. Not just to entertain the audience, but because they truly love to do what they have worked so hard for.

    I was quite surprised at the incredibly back-handed compliment in which you wrote “While these 16 women are respectable artists and seem individually talented, they could benefit from a better selection of songs to suit the styles and ranges of their members.” Groups are made up of individuals, and not every song can be best suited for each individual. If you were part of a performing group, you would realize that song selection is an absurdly difficult task. Each individual must come up with a few songs to select, then as a group, every single song being presented will be played, discussed, and decided upon. This process takes hours, and is extremely stressful. It has to be considered what songs the group is physically capable of covering, because a lot of music is not able to be reproduced by human voices. The group has to also look at what songs would actually sound good a cappella, which are actually hard to find. They also have to consider what the audience wants to hear. With conflicting opinions, this is one of the most difficult tasks apart from performing.

    In regards to your comment on the microphones in which you criticized the ability of the individuals to work with the sensitivity of the microphones, microphones are extremely hard to work with. Groups get one sound check before performing, and even then it is hard as a performer to tell if you are too loud or too quiet, or to correct the volume issues if you are able to recognize them. The sound crew is also responsible for helping with any volume issues that occur, and at times it isn’t even something that the group can actually help.

    I understand every group, individual, and performance is subject to criticism. But there is a difference between constructive criticism, and a biased opinion with nothing to base it on. An article just giving details on the the concert and a few quotes, leaving the unnecessary negativity, would have been far more appropriate.

    As Emily Mercer mentioned above, I hope that you continue to attend BellaAcappella’s performances, as well as to attend the the performances of the two other a cappella groups on campus; Symfonics, and The One Note Stand.