The Virginia Women’s Chorus presented its seventh annual Women Against Violence Benefit Concert “Can You Feel The Love Tonight?” this past Saturday at Warner Hall. All proceeds of the concert went to Shelter for Help in Emergency, a local organization that provides support for victims of domestic violence, offering shelter and other necessities for victims in emergency situations as well as investing in preventative measures.
The event showcased a lineup of the University's various choral and a capella groups — including the Virginia Women’s Chorus and its brother group, The Virginia Glee Club — as well as The Virginia Belles, Hoos in Treble, The Academical Village People, No Fella A Cappella, The Virginia Gentlemen, The Virginia Sil'hooettes and The Hullabahoos.
The Virginia Belles — the oldest women’s a cappella groups at the University — kicked off the concert with a rendition of “Searching for a Feeling” by Thirdstory.
Second-year College student Gennese Springs, second-year College student Olivia Conniff and first-year College student Cate Mangione led the group through the gentle arching melody, finishing with a three-part harmony. Fourth-year McIntire student Parker Freeman then sang “Rainbow” by Kacey Musgraves in an impressive showing of the seasoned group's abilities.
Next up was Hoos in Treble, an all-treble, all-female a capella group. Second-year College student Erin Murphy led a rendition of “ceilings” by Lizzy McAlpine, ripe with swinging and echoing harmonies that left the crowd with chills in one of the best technical showings of the night. The group continued with “Love” by Allen Stone, supported by a lovely vibrato from second-year College student Rachel Bohannon.
The Academical Village People, who were introduced by the MC as a group who “don’t take themselves too seriously,” started with a last-minute song change to “Just the Two of Us” by Grover Washington Jr. The group exuded rhythm as they energetically danced through the song and even garnered a few laughs when the two leads held hands while passionately staring into each other's eyes.
Third-year Architecture student Wells Woolcott was a featured soloist with “Style” by Taylor Swift. The group commanded the stage with eccentric mannerisms and high energy, ending their performance by picking up Woolcott and swinging him around the stage as he belted the last verse.
Groups like The Academic Village People and The Virginia Gentlemen are known for their signature charm and comedic touch when performing, entertaining the crowd with not just musical talent, but physical comedy.
The Virginia Gentlemen took the stage with a rendition of “Wagon Wheel” by Darrius Rucker, the lead singer of which surprised the audience with a southern twang comparable to Rucker himself, even inviting the audience to sing along for the final chorus. Fourth-year College student Philip DiMeglio led “Fly Me To The Moon” by Frank Sinatra, ending the song with further theatrics as DiMeglio pretended to play another member like a bass.
Following two multifaceted and amusing performances, next up was The Virginia Sil’hooettes. The group performed a unique mashup of two songs, beginning with an excerpt from Bruno Mars’ “When I Was Your Man” before transitioning into a rendition of the recent hit song “Flowers” by Miley Cyrus.
The performance cascaded into a round-like call and response, with Mars’ lyrics — see “I should have bought you flowers” — providing an opposing perspective to Cyrus’ anthem of independence, asserting “I can buy myself flowers.”
The Hullabahoos followed up with an upbeat and rhythmic rendition of “Marry You” by Bruno Mars, a performance that hyped up the crowd, half of which were singing along with third-year Architecture student Tilden Puckett. The group continued with “They Don’t Know About Us” by One Direction, supplying the performance with enough energy to perpetuate the song’s boy-band feel.
For the finale, The Virginia Glee Club and the Virginia Women’s Chorus — the University’s oldest women’s music organization — provided two beautiful choral performances.
After The Virginia Glee Club’s renditions of “Winter Song” by Frederic Field Bullard and “Wana Baraka” by Shawn Kirchner, The Virginia Women’s Chorus brought 32 members out on stage to perform the event's titular piece, “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” by Elton John. Second-year College student and Cate Stanley led the group, who ended the evening with “I Feel The Earth Move” by Carole King in a thunderous and moving performance.
The event was an exciting showcase of the varied and diverse choral and a capella groups that the University has to offer. With all of this in the name of supporting victims of domestic violence, the love was truly felt that night.
To learn more about Shelter for Help in Emergency or to make a donation, visit their website or venmo @VWChorus with the subject “SHE Donation.”