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Searching through song: spring auditions fortify a cappella groups

February 11, 2022

The spring round of a cappella auditions concluded with an unexpectedly-high turnout. Auditions began Monday evening, and the final step of the decision-making process took place Wednesday evening.

While all a cappella groups held auditions in the fall 2021 semester, not all choose to do so in the spring.

“[Groups that did not hold auditions] are worried that the group’s going to get too big if they have auditions in the spring, so they hold off until the fall again,” Kate John ’22, one of the musical directors of Miscellanea, said.

Yet, Miscellanea, and fellow a capella group BOKA, both decided to accept new talent this spring, in part because some of their members are studying abroad.

“In the spring we’ll have one or two specific things in mind we’re looking to fill, whereas in the fall it’s just a lot more general,” Casey Chertavian ’22, one of the leaders of BOKA, said. “One of our main piano and music arrangers is abroad, so we’re looking for someone who can … play that role—and we’re always in need of more lower voices, like tenors and basses.”

While group leaders may be looking for more specific musicians in the spring semester, auditions are held in the same order: preliminary auditions, call-backs and then the final meeting, in which representatives from all participating a cappella groups meet and present their top choices. If there are overlaps between groups’ top choices, they coordinate which group the new members will enter.

“We definitely apply the same standards to those auditioning in the spring as we do in the fall,” John said. “We want to make sure that anyone we’re accepting into the group is still at a certain level of talent and ability.”

The spring audition has fewer participants and a shortened schedule compared to the auditions in the fall. Preliminary auditions in the fall are held from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., three nights in a row. Alternatively, the spring is a single, two-hour session. Chertavian estimates that spring auditions see about one fifth of the number of people as in the fall.

However, both John and Chertavian remarked on the higher-than-expected number of auditionees this semester.

“We’re never quite sure how many people [will] audition in the spring versus in the fall, so we were definitely pleasantly surprised,” John said.

Chertavian attributes the higher-than-usual turnout to COVID-19-related limitations on the a cappella groups in past semesters.

“This is the first time in two years that people have been able to try out for groups in person, so lots of sophomores who missed that opportunity last year came out [this year],” Chertavian wrote in a follow-up email to the Orient.

Overall, the a cappella groups were excited by the turnout and are optimistic for the coming semester.

“We ended up having … a lot of really strong talent,” John said.


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