As many UR students know, the campus only has one all-female a cappella group which fits the same stereotype as their all-male counterparts: medium-sized, talented, respected and hard to get in to. Unbeknownst to many on campus, though, is the fact that they are arguably on-par with UR’s nationally recognized Midnight Ramblers and the NBC Sing-Off alumni YellowJackets.
On Saturday, April 21, Vocal Point performed one of the most balanced and well-rehearsed performances one could possibly ask for. Opening to an audience of about 100 in the May Room, Vocal Point was able to make up for the small crowd by bringing an unbounded enthusiasm and a sizeable amount of energy. Because they did not have a guest artist or an opening group, they regularly interacted with the audience between numbers and, as part of their party-themed show, invited selected audience members to participate in games onstage. Though it was awkward at first, eventually the audience caught on and began to enjoy the lighthearted activities.
The show itself was well done and professionally performed. With minimal choreography, they focused more on timing and pitch, both of which rarely faltered. Vocal Point’s performance style allowed the soloist to shine because the background singers were restrained enough that there were never any issues hearing the soloist or each individual vocal part. The moments that best demonstrated the group’s strength, though, were when they performed in a more choral style, allowing their well-developed voices to blend together to create beautiful, full-voiced harmonies. They were also able to highlight superb vocal diversity. All 11 members got to perform at least one solo and none performed more than three. Two of the girls, freshmen Sophie Fishbein and Eliza Barnes, were new additions to the group this semester, and performed admirably in a duet early in the concert, a demonstration that showed that Vocal Point can remain strong in the future.
Over the course of the night, the group’s two seniors — Gillian Friedman and Hannah Silver — were honored by the other members for their contributions to the group. Friedman then performed a surprisingly cheerful version of My Chemical Romance’s rock hit “Welcome to the Black Parade” as her senior solo. Silver’s senior song, a cover of the late Amy Winehouse’s “Valerie,” was also performed well and seemed to capture the tone and power of Winehouse’s vocals perfectly.
All in all, Vocal Point performed 17 quality songs, but a few stood out amongst the rest. Their third, a mashup of “Daylight Again” and “Cathedral” by CSNY, which featured senior Gillian Friedman, juniors Lindsey Forbes and Jamie Wilson and Take Five scholar Lindsey Garrison as soloists. The song, arranged by Wilson and Forbes, captivated the audience with its strong use of a highly choral background and harmony-heavy solos. In their second set, junior Claire Crowther led the group in a cover of “Safe and Sound” by Taylor Swift and the Civil Wars, a number which could easily have been the best of the show. Toward the end of their second set, junior Bailey Gripshover and senior Hannah Silver led the group in a fast-paced, high-energy mashup of Dev’s “In the Dark” and Alexandra Stan’s “Mr. Saxobeat.” The mashup was arguably the best-arranged song of the night — courtesy of senior Noah Berg of the Midnight Ramblers — with a creative background complimenting the leads as the audience fought their urge to dance.
For a group that’s been around for 43 years, Vocal Point sure didn’t get the support this weekend that they deserved. They did, however, show a vocal maturity in their performance that helps them maintain their status as one of the premier music-related groups on campus.
As their performance wound to a close with a medley of Pat Benatar songs, very few audience members genuinely wanted the show to end. Unfortunately, all shows must, even those which leave the audiences asking for more.
Pascutoi is a member of the class of 2015.