Juan Rodriguez, '21, performs with the acapella group A Whole Step Up during Hawkathon. (Sally Gu/BW Staff)

Lehigh’s a cappella groups continue to make music


Despite interruptions to their weekly in-person team rehearsals, Lehigh’s a cappella groups have been trying to find a sense of routine during an abnormal semester.

Lehigh’s three groups—The Echoes, The Melismatics and Off The Record—have all faced challenges this year, but that’s not stopping the groups from making music.

Sophia Martino, ‘24, is a member of Echoes, the only all-girls a cappella group at Lehigh. Echoes have been working on recordings about every other week in small groups in order to record their music in the safest way possible.

“We are working periodically in an apartment, and although the recording equipment is not professional, it’s a pretty cool experience because it’s a real product that is going to be on streaming platforms,” Martino said.

The team has been able to do in-person training sessions, which consists of four members per section. They have also done some outdoor rehearsals, abiding by COVID-19 safety guidelines.

Although the rehearsal structure does not resemble Echoes’ pre-pandemic ways, Martino said she still feels fortunate to have some sense of normalcy.

“Making music with other people is one of the greatest things ever, especially after not having been able to for a while,” Martino said. “Being with other people and making music is a surreal feeling.”

Martino said the biggest challenge for the group last semester was dealing with the occasional lag on Zoom, but with more in-person meetings this semester, the team has been able to blend their voices with one another and carry a melody together.

Quinton Ritchie, ‘22, business manager for Off the Record, said his group faced similar challenges posed by the virtual format.

“The biggest challenge of the virtual format is to not hear blend,” Ritchie said. “It is hard to know when you’re doing a certain rhythm right unless you have the other parts.”

When Off The Record rehearsed in Zoellner prior to the pandemic, they would be around a large U-shaped formation of tables with everyone in one room together.

“We’d learn more music more easily instead of everyone learning on their own,” Ritchie said. “It was nice to be with the group and be with people.”

The team had the chance to compete in the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA) competition this semester, a regional competition that is typically held in-person at West Chester University. This year the competition was fully remote, and teams were instructed to submit a four minute video.

“We went up to the Mountaintop campus and were able to stay socially distant and record video as background,” Ritchie said. “We participated in that in March and submitted it.”

The group plans to dedicate the remainder of the semester to its seniors. This year they will have six senior solos, highlighting each one through their own arranged solo.

The Melismatics also participated in the ICCAs this year.

Jacob Thompson ‘23, assistant business manager for The Melismatics, said that the team has not been able to interact in person for the entire year, but with COVID-19 numbers decreasing at Lehigh, they had their very first in-person rehearsal at Zoellner in late April.

“That was a really good opportunity because even though it’s still different this semester, it’s kind of nice to have some sense of normalcy,” Thompson said.

The team plans to meet every Monday for the remainder of the semester.

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