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Bellacappella takes the stage at Saint Mary’s

| Friday, November 14, 2014

After a snowy Thursday, Bellacappella, Saint Mary’s premier a cappella group, performed their appropriately titled fall concert, “Christmas in November,” Thursday evening at the O’Laughlin Auditorium.

bellacapellaCaitlyn Jordan | The Observer
“Usually our concerts are later in the year, but there were a lot of scheduling conflicts,” Bellacappella president senior Nia Parillo said. “That’s why we named it ‘Christmas in November.’ It’s just kind of a classic, [where] we have some classic songs we sing.”

Parillo said her fellow Bellas sang on the O’Laughlin stage without body microphones this year due to sound issues with the Little Theater next door, she said.

“We spoke to the mic technicians, and we have mics, but we have standing mics,” she said. “We’re kicking it Bella old school, going back to our roots, pure acapella. This is probably the biggest one we’ve done yet, just kind of going with the flow of what’s happening. The girls have worked so hard. I couldn’t be more proud of them and all the hard work they’ve put in. No matter what happens behind the scenes, it’s going to be a great show.”

The group added six new group members, all freshmen and sophomores, at the beginning of the year, Parillo said.

“In the beginning of the year, we kind of just go through how Bella works, especially with the new girls we took on,” she said. “We took on six this year, and they’re all amazing.”

When it came to preparing song arrangements, the women of Bella are advised to think of songs they enjoy listening to, whether they be current hits or oldies, Parillo said.

“It’s usually just, ‘Give me a list, and let’s see how it goes,’” Parillo said. “When we listen to the music, we just kind of brainstorm together what the audience would want to listen to and what we would like to sing. That’s how we have the lineup that we have. We have new songs, we have old songs. That’s how we figured out what we were going to pick.”

Parillo, an alto, arranges her own music, as does every member of Bella with her own personal technique, Parillo said.

“We all arrange our own music,” she said. “Everyone in the group arranges their own songs. Some girls get ideas off of music notes. Some of the older girls, like myself, they listen by ear, so they listen to the song and figure out what they could do. They figure out what would sound best. It’s difficult, when you first start learning how to arrange. We do bring back older Bella arrangements. We all make our own. We just kind of throw the notes together.”

Throughout football season, Bellacappella has toured tailgates across Notre Dame’s campus, singing some of its favorites while promoting the group, Parillo said. Several songs have become big fan favorites, she said.

“A big crowd pleaser for people who have followed Bella is [Mika’s] ‘Grace Kelly,’” she said. “That’s a crowd-pleaser for the seniors. I like to think they’re all crowd favorites. When we do tailgate at Notre Dame, we start with ‘I Love Rock n’ Roll.’ That’s another step in our job, performing for them.”

After their fall concert, Bella is now looking to the future for new arrangements, including a Disney medley, Parillo said.

“We’re hoping to have a little medley next semester,” she said. “That’s going to be a little project over Christmas break. It’s on my Bella bucketlist. I have these little things I want to do before I graduate.”

Parillo hopes to continue to make known Bella’s presence not only on Saint Mary’s campus but also beyond it, she said.

“Some people don’t even know we have an a cappella group, and that kind of just bums us out,” she said. “We’re trying to get our name out not just on campus but outside of campus. We were asked here and there if Bella could perform. We’re trying to sing at Senior Dads [weekend], Junior Moms, Sophomore Parents, those kinds of events, just trying to get our name out there.”

As a senior, Parillo said she knows the future of Bella fluctuates every year between graduating students and new members, she said.

“The group changes significantly every year with who graduates,” she said. “The group sometimes takes a few steps forward and then a few steps back. Things change and things happen, but being the premiere a cappella group on campus, we’d hope Saint Mary’s would know we were here. We’re excited to perform, and we are willing to combine with groups. It’s really just bringing the community together. I just hope Bella takes a lot of steps forward from this great place we are now.”

If there’s anything Parillo wants the audience to take away from Bella’s fall concert, it’s a sense of fun and enjoyment, she said.

“I hope they’re like, ‘Wow, you can tell they put so much time into this,’ Parillo said. “A lot of this is give and take. It’s not, ‘We’re going to sing at you.’ I want them to have a great time. I want them to be in the moment with us.”

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