UPC, a capella groups reinvent University tradition at 'Old Cabell Sing'
Rotunda renovations move this classic event to new ground
Concerns about the forced relocation of Rotunda Sing due to construction were quelled with melodious tunes Wednesday night, as a capella groups serenaded the audience on the South Lawn.
Third-year College student Lindsey Rosenthal, director of the University Programs Council’s arts and enrichment committee, said the new space, though unconventional, came with numerous technical advantages.
“The south end of the Lawn is wider, [so] the sound traveled a lot better and didn’t get caught in the colonnades,” Rosenthal said. “Also, with the stage the soloists were more visible because at the Rotunda the soloists are at the front [of their groups] on lower steps.”
Rosenthal worked with Jerry Mallory, the sound and lighting director for the event, as well as Facilities Management to set up the stage. Third-year Commerce student Alex Spears, president of the Hullabahoos, said the new stage added a unique perspective.
“It was cool to have people sitting on the tiers of the Lawn, because they could look down [at the stage] and have a better view,” Spears said.
The relocation did little to detract from the University’s long-standing a cappella tradition — an affinity upheld by the broad spectrum of a cappella groups, said third-year College student Natalie Wyman, president of the Virginia Belles.
“You have groups like the Hullabahoos being featured on the Office or being on Pitch Perfect, and you have AVP who throw their shirts off and do crazy things, and the VGs are ‘U.Va. in a group’,” Wyman said. “It’s the same with the girls and mixed groups. We’re all different and I think everyone can relate to each group and their unique personality.”
Rotunda Sing is an important recruiting tool for the groups, Spears said.
“I know it’s a big event for UPC and they put a lot of work into it,” Spears said. “It definitely benefits them a lot, but I don’t know if they realize how much it benefits the a cappella groups – it really is the best form of advertisement.”
When groups select members, Spears said personality and character play a large part in their final decisions.
“We’re looking for guys that we feel will be our new best friends, honestly,” Spears said. “That’s what I’ve been telling the guys this year as we head into auditions. It’s who you want to be spending hours on end with, who you want to drive cross-country in an RV with over and beyond just singing ability.”
This Welcome Week highlight is a favorite of first years and returning students alike — and though the event is temporarily separated from its Rotunda venue, the University’s relationship with a cappella remains strong.