Students gathered on the lawn to see the University’s many vocal performance groups at Wednesday’s Rotunda Sing, hosted annually by the University Programs Council.
The concert highlighted an array of musical genres and vocal styles, from the pop stylings of the New Dominions to the traditional vocal arrangements of the University Singers.
As the sun went down on a balmy evening, students of all years flocked to the Lawn early to snag complimentary Mellow Mushroom and Kona Ice before the show, provided by UPC. Students gathered in front of the Rotunda –– illuminated by dazzling blue and orange lights –– on picnic blankets and waited in anticipation as each group checked their mics.
The show kicked off at 8 p.m. with an exceptional performance from the University Singers. Established in 1957, the all-gender choir performs at many of the University’s events, making them a fitting opening act.
Each group performed one to two songs of their choosing, with second-year College student Anna Goodell and second-year College student Austen River as emcees providing background information on the groups between performances.
Many groups chose to perform mashups of several songs. Broadway a capella group Hoos In the Stairwell performed a crowd-favorite mix of “traitor” by Olivia Rodrigo and “Burn” from the musical “Hamilton,” which received considerable applause from the audience. Remix, a group specializing in Hip Hop and R&B songs, combined “Ex-Factor” by Lauryn Hill with recent hit “Nice For What” by Drake, featuring impressive performances by soloists.
A highlight of the show was the distinct variety of styles between the groups. “Rockapella” group the Flying V’s performed classic rock cuts including “Little Lies” by Fleetwood Mac, while Ektaal brought a South Asian-fusion sound to the stage. The New Dominions sang pop favorites like “Love Again” by Dua Lipa, while the Barbers of C’ville added a fresh perspective with their classic barbershop style.
Evident in each performance was the hard work each group poured into their renditions. Higher voices a cappella group Hoos In Treble carved out several days over the summer in order to prepare for the event.
Erin Murphy, a second-year College student and member of HIT, said the rehearsal process the for Rotunda Sing is rigorous and very different from rehearsals for other concerts.
“Friday and Saturday of last weekend, we went to one of our members’ lake house in Huddleston, Virginia,” Murphy said. “Friday, we rehearsed for six or seven hours, and we normally don’t do that in a single day.”
Groups spend so much time preparing for Rotunda Sing to deliver a good performance, but also to persuade potential new members to audition.
“Rotunda Sing is a lot of pressure because you want to put your best foot forward, especially for first years and potential auditionees who have never seen you before,” Murphy said. “If this is a few people’s first time hearing people sing, we definitely want to make sure it’s the best we can do so that we can get more people to audition for us.”
Although each group’s effort was evident in their performances, it was clear to the audience that these singers were having a blast on stage and did not take themselves too seriously. The Virginia No-Tones, who describe themselves as the University’s “oldest and only a cappella group for the musically inept” delivered a delightful mashup of some of ABBA’s greatest hits. During the Academical Village People’s version of “I Will Survive,” the members shed their signature button-down shirts.
For those within the University’s a cappella scene, performances like Rotunda Sing not only provide a creative outlet, but also a sense of community. Rachel Maxwell, social chair of the Harmonious Hoos and fourth-year College student, described the friendship and support between groups that was on display on Wednesday night.
“[During the show] all of the groups are just down in that area underneath the Rotunda, and we’re all getting ready and talking to each other and congratulating groups who come off the stage,” Maxwell said. “It’s just a really fun moment for the a cappella community because we all just want to support each other.”
This sense of community was evident as an audience member as well. Throughout the show, the crowd remained engaged and electric. Many audience members sang and clapped along to the music –– some even got up and danced.
At the end of the night, the Virginia Glee Club took the stage to perform “The Good Ol’ Song.” Members of the audience wrapped their arms around each other and swayed as they sang along before migrating home for the night.
A fitting end to the evening, the number served as a reminder of the importance of music –– and more specifically, singing –– to the University’s history, culture and community. As another Rotunda Sing came to a close, the University’s vocal performance groups proved their talent and their relevance on Grounds.