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A capella groups join together for concert

| Friday, September 28, 2018

Friday night, as the Irish prepare for a battle against the Stanford Cardinal, the singing Irish will gather for a different reason. AcaFest 2018, a group benefit concert featuring Notre Dame’s a capella singing groups, will take place at Washington Hall at 7:30 p.m.

This is the first time in four years that AcaFest has been put on, junior Sarah Duehren, president and alto singer of co-ed a capella group Halftime, said. She said AcaFest will be a chance for students to celebrate a common passion.

“In the past we’ve been to competitions, but it’s a showcase this year instead of a battle for who’s the best,” she said. “We’re pretty separate right now. I’m excited to integrate our fanbases and selfishly hear the other groups.”

For each of the groups performing, AcaFest is an opportunity to share music with each other and an audience. Senior Brian Raab, music director and bass in the all-male a capella group The Undertones, said the gathering together is what makes this event so exciting.

“We’re trying to build a sense of community among all the a capella groups,” he said.

Senior Claire Maxa, president and soprano of the co-ed group Echoes, said the a capella community on campus seldom performed together in the past, but she said she hopes AcaFest will change that.

“It’s exciting to perform with everyone,” she said. “We don’t do things like this a lot. We want to showcase ourselves as musical groups on campus.”

Emma Rowland, vice president of Halftime, said in an email that all proceeds from the concert will be donated to Nuner Fine Arts Academy in South Bend.

“This elementary school is largely dedicated to introducing all different types of art forms to their students and integrating them into their curriculum,” she said. “They have a special opportunity that is referred to as the After School Arts Program which offers a variety of free after school classes taught by parents, teachers and local community members.”

Many newcomers to the a capella groups will make their debuts at AcaFest. Duehren said that each year of fresh voices brings a unique identity to her group.

“Even though we’re still Halftime, it’s a new dynamic,” she said. “I’m excited to see how that comes into fruition on stage.”

Raab said his goal for this show is to welcome his new singers and show them the talent of Notre Dame’s a capella groups.

“This is the first concert our rookies are singing in,” he said. “We want to give them a really good show.”

Freshman Renee Yaseen of Harmonia said she has a chance to work with the girls in her group “on a personal level” since the group is entirely student-led, with upperclassmen functioning as directors. She also said that she feels ready for her first performance with Harmonia.

“I’m excited. I’m not even nervous,” she said. “We’ve practiced so much and we’re all up there together.”

Each group will perform three or four songs individually, mostly arranged by the students themselves. Titles range from Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me To the Moon” from Harmonia to “Saved” by Khalid from the Undertones. Halftime will be performing two of Duehren’s own arrangements, which she said is extremely special.

“It’s really rewarding to hear your own song come to life,” she said.

The Undertones, The Echoes, Halftime, Harmonia, Unchained Melodies and Saint Mary’s group Bellacapella will all the take the stage at the end of the evening for a group performance.

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