Like a well-oiled, finely tuned machine, a cappella groups require similar finesse when harmonizing on their carefully arranged numbers.
Italian for “in the manner of the church,” a cappella is the name for music sung by a group without the aid of instruments. All of the music behind the main vocals is provided by members ooh-ing, ah-ing, manipulating their vocal chords and even beatboxing.
Temple is home to four a cappella groups: Broad Street Line, the only all-male group; Singchronize, the only all-female group; OwlCappella, a coed group on Main Campus and Low Key, a coed show choir.
For the students in these groups, a cappella is more than just about the music – it’s about the community that comes along with sharing the same passion.
“We’re all very close knit and I think we all just really love to sing,“ said Virginia Laskowski, a junior public relations major and the president of Singchronize. “A lot of times it’s nice to have groups [that offer variety]. Our a cappella group isn’t all music students – I’m not a music student. So it’s nice for all of us to come together and have an outlet for something we’re all very passionate about.”
The camaraderie between the groups extended to auditions, which all of the groups planned to have the same week in order to give potential members the option of auditioning for as many groups as they wanted.
“We were pitching other people’s auditions and we were all working together,” said Kevin Chemidlin, a junior computer science major and president of OwlCappella.
At the heart of Temple’s a cappella community is Singchronize, the oldest group on campus, founded in 2002. The repertoire of this group has recently included “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child and “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen.
Singchronize was able to perform at a Phillies game during the summer and in the past has also had the opportunity to sing at other professional Philadelphia sports teams’ games and secured gigs to sing at weddings.
To commemorate its 10-year anniversary, Laskowski hopes to contact past members of Singchronize to have a reunion concert.
“We’re trying to get a group of alumni together to do a combined song and then a song of their own because really, we wouldn’t be here without the alumni,” Lasksowski said.
“Broad Street Line and Singchronize have always been close, just because until [two years ago] we were the only a cappella groups. OwlCapella and Low Key have created themselves in the last couple of years, but as a new a cappella group comes, we welcome them into the TU a cappella circle,” she said.
Broad Street Line
Founded one year after Singchronize in 2003, Broad Street Line has been one of the most active groups on social media, posting constant videos of performances and producing a YouTube video promoting their auditions.
The most viewed video on the Broad Street Line’s YouTube account, with almost 26,000 views, is their rendition of “Otherside” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Ryan Carlin, a sophomore music education major and vice president of Broad Street Line, said what sets the group apart from other groups is the energy of its performances and the variety of the members’ repertoire.
“We do stuff that people wouldn’t necessarily think of an a cappella group doing,” Carlin said. “We rocked out to Sum 41’s ‘Fat Lip’ but then did a Josh Groban lullaby [in the same set].”
Other songs, which also have popular Broad Street Line renditions, are “Cry Me a River” by Justin Timberlake, “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” from Disney’s “Mulan” and “The Cave” by Mumford and Sons.
Broad Street Line’s plans for the upcoming year include raising enough funds to tour various colleges, releasing a CD that could eventually lead to a chance of making it into BOCA, the Best of College A Capella – a compilation CD that features groups from around the country.
“The unity of the Temple a cappella community contributes gigantically toward the growth and just the interest and overall participation in a cappella,” Chemidlin said. “The four groups have really gotten together and helped each other out.”
Founded in Fall 2010, OwlCappella is the first coed group on campus.
OwlCappella prides itself on moving toward exploring different genres of music, as opposed to a repertoire mainly featuring music from the 1990s – which comprised most of the group’s sets.
The group’s YouTube page now displays a variety of songs, including Nicki Minaj’s “Superbass” and Michelle Branch’s “Everywhere.”
“An ideal OwlCappella member is just good with music,” Chemidlin said. “A lot of people think you have to be a good soloist to be a good a cappella member, but then you have to keep in mind that you only get one solo out of the songs that the group does, so that’s maybe one song out of the 14 that the group does.”
Low Key, a coed unaccompanied show choir, is the youngest a cappella group founded one semester after OwlCappella in Spring 2011.
“Since there’s so many of us, all of the [a cappella] presidents have been trying to make it a community and an actual scene on campus,” said Michelle Paznokas, a junior visual anthropology major and president of Low Key.
Paznokas said Low Key is set apart because while it is an a cappella group and a part of their community, they have a larger focus on being upbeat in their song choices and movements.
“Show Choir doesn’t necessarily mean dancing,” Paznokas said. “It’s mainly just making it as entertaining as we can.”
The groups have to fully fund themselves since they are not student organizations registered through Student Activities or Boyer College of Music and Dance.
Chemidlin said the groups are looking into becoming registered through Student Acvtivities to receive allocations, whether it be as an umbrella organization for all of the a cappella groups or individually.
With performances every first Thursday of the month and 20 new members joining the Temple a cappella community this semester, there seems to be little stopping this rapidly growing movement on campus.
Luis Fernando Rodriguez can be reached at email@example.com.