A cappella groups take tunes on the road

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October 16, 2009

1:13 AM

From medieval troubadours to the modern day American Idol tour, traveling has long been intertwined with music. For many budding artists, going on tour offers the possibility of fame, fortune and sharing their music with the world. This fall break, six of the eleven a cappella groups at the College of William and Mary went on tours of their own. Singers from the College drove up and down the Eastern Seaboard, hitting the road in order to bond with group members while doing what they love.

Both DoubleTake and Reveille made the drive to New York on their fall tours, performing at Columbia University as well as Rutgers University in New Jersey, Haverford College in Pennsylvania and the University of Virginia. According to Teresa Caro ’11, the highlight of Reveille’s tour was their performance at the U.S. Capitol for College alumni.

“It is a great opportunity just to get out your name out there and sing and for new audiences to see us,” Caro said.

Caily Bridgeland ’12, a member of the Accidentals, agreed. “We got to sing for people who have never really heard a cappella before, and it was cool seeing them appreciate it for the first time.”

In addition to spreading DoubleTake’s music, the group’s fall tour also serves as a retreat and bonding experience for new members. Director Ben McVety ’10 is excited about the new members this semester in the group.

“We got five newbies this year,” he said. “They’re all fantastic. They blend so well with the group dynamic, and we brought them on tour. We had serious bonding time at one of our newbie’s houses, talking for hours into the early morning.”

The tour can serve as a culmination of both the group’s efforts thus far this semester and as a learning experience to further the group’s repertoire.

“It’s a really great bonding experience for the group as a whole and something to work towards at the beginning of the year,” Alix Bendicksen ’12, a new member of DoubleTake said.

“A lot of groups do a fall retreat, but we don’t, so a big part of our tour is bonding and having the girls learn new music,” Accidentals member Mary Judge ’11 said. “We learn one or two new songs on tour.”

Reveille member Jenn MacLure ’10 enjoyed bonding with her group.

“We get to spend so much time together during long car rides and the slumber parties every night,” she said. “It’s like we are all one big family.”

Another major component of the tours is networking with other campus’ a cappella groups. When a cappella groups travel on the East Coast, they often are hosted by other groups at different universities and perform shows with them, and the system works both ways.

“Meeting other groups is also a lot of fun because we can make connections for future concerts and hear other styles of a cappella music,” Reveille member Kelly Eaton ’10, said.

“We loved performing with The Capital Gs at Georgetown University,” Jessica Dobis ’11, a member of Passing Notes, said.

DoubleTake sang at Rutgers with Deep Treble and at Columbia with Uptown Vocal. They also sang with U.Va.’s New Dominions. The Accidentals were hosted by the University of Pennsylvania’s Chord on Blues.
J.T. Carter ’11 of DoubleTake, said the best part of the tour was singing with friends. “I met them freshman year and we sing with them every year — so sharing that a cappella bond is great.”

McVety agreed, explaining that the main reason DoubleTake competes in the ICCAs is “to make ties with other groups and see them over tour.”

For the Accidentals, a fall tour is a yearly tradition. The group elects tour managers who handle the planning of the trip. Kate Drummey ’10 and Judge were responsible for setting up performances, transportation and other tour duties.

“[We] got an opportunity to practice our repertoire so many times, which is great since we have our homecoming concert next weekend,” Accidentals Director Hannah Suh ’10 said. “We’re together 24/7, though, and it was a challenge to keep everyone’s voices strong for four days of gigs and rehearsals.”

The Accidentals sang in northern Virginia, Philadelphia and New Jersey. Most nights, the girls were housed by group members’ families.

The Accidentals fall tour also provides the group with an opportunity to make money through honorariums, CD sales and donations. This year, the Accidentals made over $800, which Judge said they will put toward recording their next CD.

This was only the second fall tour for Passing Notes, who performed at Georgetown and American University in Washington, D.C.

A cappella groups at the College give up the rest and relaxation of fall break to tour the coast singing, learning new music, earning money, and bonding with new members. While it can be stressful at times, tours create a stronger group that is proud of its hard work.

“Tour is a chance for us to share our music off campus to a broader community and to forge new connections,” Dobis said.

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