American audiences are addicted – to listening to one another sing. It started ten years ago with the American Idol show, then ramped up three years ago when Glee and The Sing-off debuted. This year we’re mesmerized with The Voice, especially since WHS grad James Massone made it so far in the competition. On Friday evening, May 4 you’ll have the opportunity to marvel at some other new voices, as an a cappella event showcasing regional high school talent will take place in the new theater space at Wakefield High School. The event is two-fold, to showcase the students and to raise some funds to help retire the loan which the Center for Performing Arts incurred in order to finish the construction of the new theater.
If you’ve watched The Sing-Off, you’ll have an idea of what to expect - singing without any instrumental back-up. The only instrument you’ll see is a pitch pipe, used to give the vocalists their starting note. After that, it’s human voices only, although you may be fooled when you hear the percussionists. There is no karaoke aspect, no singing along to pre-recorded tracks; it is all live and acoustic. The new WHS theater space, designed to be intimate in size and with incredible acoustic conditions, is the perfect place for this type of concert.
Doug Hodgkins, Choral Director at Lynnfield High School, is bringing groups from his school: the all-female AcaBellas, the co-ed ensemble the AcaPeople, and the LHS Chamber Singers. There is a lot of overlap between these three groups, as 13 out of the 20 Chamber Singers will also be singing with one of the a cappella groups, thereby demonstrating how much these teens love to sing a variety of musical genres, and that the a cappella style is not restricted to groups who sing solely without instrumental back-up.
Voices of Steel, Wakefield High School’s own a cappella group, will participate of course. These sixteen young adults have a good time singing together, and it is evident in their performances. Formed by audition three years ago, they are under the direction of Wakefield’s Choral Music Director Ana Morel. Evenly composed of 8 males and 8 females, they will graduate one senior who only gave serious consideration to colleges which have multiple a cappella groups.
They will be joined by two groups from Marblehead, The Jewel Tones and The Grizzly Freakin’ Man Singers. The Jewel Tones are Marblehead High School's original a cappella group, and were founded in 2003. In 2010, the Jewel Tones earned first place in the ICHSA New England Semifinals. This co-ed group of thirteen vocalists is led by Amanda Roeder, Director of Choral Music at Marblehead High School. Formed in 2008, the “Grizzly Freakin’ Man Singers” is Marblehead High School's all-male, student-lead a cappella group, and these 14 young men really engaged the audience while displaying great stage presence and a sense of humor at the New England Voices Festival this past February.
Coming from Hamilton-Wenham will be the Kings of the Beach, another student-led group. Founded in 1997, The Kings of the Beach was Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School's first pop a cappella group. The co-ed group is made up of 20 students from freshmen to seniors. One of their alumnae, Cortney Penta, moved on from the Kings to the University of Delaware’s Deltones, and competed with them on NBC’s Sing-Off, during which they placed in the top ten.
Tickets for “An Evening of A Cappella” can be purchased at Smith Drug, 390 Main Street in downtown Wakefield, or may be ordered by calling 781-246-3008. General admission is $15, students and senior citizens are $10. At Wakefield High School’s new theater, 60 Farm Street, the doors will open at 6:30 and the performance will begin at 7:00 p.m. Nine raffle prizes will be offered, including museum passes, cruise tickets, show tickets, a hair salon gift certificate, and an autographed book by a famous Wakefield alum. Come hear the next generation of singers before they become stars!