The Penn State a cappella scene is thriving and growing. The Pennharmonics advanced onto the final round of the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella in April and The Coda Conduct was recently created. Penn State a cappella is making a name for itself. The beginning of the new semester also marks a transitional time where all groups are holding auditions for new members in preparation for end of the semester concerts in December.
Name: The Pennharmonics, “The Penns”
Style: Dark and edgy, inspired by artists like MUSE and Sia.
Their Words/Interesting detail: “We take music very seriously and we are a close group of friends who enjoy each others’ company,” current Director Stephanie Allen (senior-psychology) said.The group was founded in 1993, she said.
Name: None of the Above, “NOTA”
Style: Colorful and upbeat like David Guetta’s “Without You” and “Titanium.”
Their Words/Interesting detail: The group is composed of 19 co-ed members. “We like to perform contemporary pieces and make every song fun,” Director Justin Barett (senior mathematics) said. “We are all about getting the audience into the performance as much as possible.”
Name: Savoir Faire
Style: All-girl group singing oldies and contemporary music, including music by artists like Kelly Clarkson and Coldplay.
Their Words/Interesting detail: “We stand out because we are an all-female group and it is sometimes hard to arrange the music and sound full but we make it work and also perform downtown every Sunday of football season,” Director Brittany Hee (senior-communication sciences and disorders) said.
Name: Blue in the FACE
Style: Partnership of music and friendship, songs like “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga and “Beautiful Day” by U2
Their Words/Interesting detail: “Our group is a collection of 18 best friends at Penn State, our motto is ‘friends first, musicians second,’” Director Victor Gowl (senior-English education) said.
Name: The Statesmen, formerly The JoePas
Style: All-male group, original songs, new versions of the alma mater, “Cecilia” by Simon & Garfunkel
Their Words/Interesting detail: Formerly known as The JoePas, The Statesmen are the all-male a cappella group on campus who underwent an official name change this fall.
“The group was brainstorming amidst all the turmoil and The Statesmen upheld the tradition and values around which the group was originally formed, which is Penn State pride and success with honor,” Robert Montgomery (junior-musical theatre) said.
As business manager of The Statesmen, Montgomery said they are working on a new arrangement of the alma matter as well as an original song.
Name: Shades of Blue
Style: In an email, Bill Emhof (graduate-music composition), director of Shades of Blue, described their song choices as mixing genres and being very creative, performing classic hits like “Breakfast at Tiffany's,” songs from musicals, and even classic Disney songs.
Their Words/Interesting detail: “We love to put our own spin on songs when we arrange them, such as a choral version of Death Cab for Cutie's ‘I Will Follow You Into the Dark' and a gospel version of the Beatles 'Let it Be',” Emhoff said.
Name: The Coda Conduct
Style: Co-founder Ricky Jabarin cites influences like Corinne Bailey Rae and Ellie Goulding’s “Lights” jazz remix. However, he said he wants the group to develop naturally based on the members who join.
Their Words/Interesting detail: The Coda Conduct was a brainchild of Jabarin (senior-supply chain and information systems) and Trevor Johnson (junior-kinesiology).
Jabarin said that as the newest co-ed a cappella group on campus they want to focus on standing apart and implementing a lot of R&B and jazz elements in their arrangements, since that is something that the Penn State a cappella scene hasn’t touched.
“I want to let the first members create a tradition for the group,” Jabarin said.