THE DAILY STUDENT NEWSPAPER OF THE UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH

Students prepare vocals for winter concerts

Breanna Durham | December 1, 2011    

The Backstreet Boys are coming to campus — or at least their songs are.

Various choirs… The Backstreet Boys are coming to campus — or at least their songs are.

Various choirs around Pitt’s campus have their annual winter concerts coming up within the next few weeks — though they aren’t necessarily holiday-themed. Since the beginning of the school year, the members of each group have had, rehearsals each week, many times adding extra hours on top of the scheduled meetings. But for these groups, the practices mean a better climax for their labors.

Ethan Miller, the president of C Flat Run, a coed a cappella group on campus, said the audience’s reaction to his group’s concerts is what entices him to work hard. He particularly likes it when the audience goes crazy over the group’s renditions of Backstreet Boys songs.

“I don’t know why, but with Backstreet Boys, they always do,” he said.

And like the Backstreet Boys, this group doesn’t just sing. They’ve got the choreography down, too. But Miller said that adding dancing on top of the singing always proves to be the most difficult part of preparing a performance.

He said the 13-member group doesn’t do the usual “choir-boy-stand-there-and-sing” routine when they appear before their adoring fans. The singers go for the contemporary music, and the audience drives their vigor.

“On their own, they’re both not that bad, but once you have to start thinking about where you’re moving while you’re singing, it gets a bit complicated. But we are only doing that for one song, and we know that one pretty well,” Miller said.

The group plans to keep the songs seasonally neutral, although it might throw in a well-known Christmas tune.

Regardless, Miller said the group is ready for its show tonight at 8 p.m. in the Cathedral of Learning.

“This is probably the most that we’ve been prepared yet,” he said.

For senior Dexter Gulick, president of Pitt Men’s Glee Club, getting his a cappella group prepared can be more difficult than fun at times.

“Whenever you … do anything on an instrument, the really nice thing about it is that you can hit a button or finger a note on a string … and you’re going to get the same note every time,” he said. But the same doesn’t always hold true for voices, he added.

So from day one, Gulick said, the group of 55 Pitt men has had to work hard for a cohesive sound. They’ve had to work on dynamics and phrasing, along with figuring out how many different sounds play in with each other. But despite the challenges, sometimes the large size of the group can be a boon.

“It’s also really nice having such a large group, because the sound is so full and you can really do a lot of dynamics, ranging from quiet to bombastically loud,” Gulick said.

It’s for that sold-out crowd that the group works, remembering that the audience is waiting for it to perform. Gulick said it’s not the quality of the singing that the audience cares about, but the performance as a whole.

“My motto is that we are not here to sing well but to make music, and there’s a huge distinction between the two,” he said.

Sophomore Rocky Paterra, the social chair of the Heinz Chapel Choir, said that when his 50-member student group makes music well, its sound resonates perfectly in the Heinz Memorial Chapel, where it always holds its concerts.

“Just the feeling of seeing and hearing all of our hard work pay off is very fulfilling,” Paterra said.

Paterra, who sings tenor in the group, said the Heinz Chapel Choir’s songs alternate between upbeat and slow and between religious and nonreligious.

Pitt’s Women’s Choral Ensemble touches mostly on classical music.

Lorraine Milovac, who has been the director of the Women’s Choral Ensemble for the past 12 years, said she often feels the pressure to perform well but is able to look to her 44-member group for support.

“The easiest thing is working with the nicest, most enthusiastic group of women one could ever hope to meet,” Milovac said in an email.

The women meet in and out of class for rehearsal, their pieces touching mostly upon classical music. But it all accumulates to a grand show. She said the group members bring life to the pages of their music, and that delights her the most.

“When the sound, the balance, the musical nuance and expression are all working in harmony, it is a transcending experience,” she said.

Upcoming Winter Concerts:

C Flat Run

Date: Dec. 2

Time: 8 p.m.

Location: G24 of the Cathedral of Learning

Cost: Free

Pitt Men’s Glee Club

Date: Dec. 10

Time: 8 p.m.

Location: First Baptist Church at 159 North Bellefield Ave.

Cost: Free, but $3 suggested donation

Heinz Chapel Choir

Date: Dec. 3, 4, 9 and 11

Time: 8 p.m. on Dec. 3 and 9, 3 p.m. on Dec. 4 and 11

Location: Heinz Memorial Chapel

Cost: $10

Women’s Choral Ensemble

Date: Dec. 2

Time: 8 p.m.

Location: Heinz Memorial Chapel

Cost: Advance tickets $8.50, non-Pitt students and seniors $5. Visit www.proartstickets.org or call 412-394-3353. General admission at the door $15, non-Pitt students and seniors $10. Pitt students: Free with valid ID.

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