Daniel Snapshot #4: Aca-mmunity

In which Underground Sound unites one final time after a semester of delightful struggle.

            When the movie Pitch Perfect was introduced to me, well after it had left theaters, my initial reaction was that of confusion, dismay and irritation.  The cinematic adventures of an all-female a capella group in the face of comical sexism was not, as I had thought I’d learned from my one semester of being in an a capella group, accurate.  Underground Sound, the school’s only mixed a capella group, was not capable for a riff-off, did no choreographed dancing, and had almost never been attacked with projectiles of Mexican fast food.

            Yet going through this fall semester with the group has been an adventure that made me reconsider my previous judgment.  There was, after all, chaos, competition, stress, poorly executed dancing, friendship, and, at the end of the day, Mexican Food (which was not thrown, thankfully, by anyone), and I had to admit that, although the movie was a remarkably poor depiction of the technicalities of operating a musical ensemble and vocal pedagogy, it was very correct in showing hardship and triumph bringing a group together.  Two of my favorite memories from this semester have been due to Underground Sound, the first being when we sang for the Board of Trustees and the second being when we had lunch together after a rather ineffective flash mob.

What’s that you ask?  The Board of Trustees?  Why yes, we did sing for them – at their fancy-shmancy retreat, I may add.  One early autumn afternoon, after a confusing car ride through the suburbs and overgrown himalayan blackberries of Western Washington, we arrived at the winery at which the Board of Trustees was having dinner during their annual retreat and sang for them WHAT?!?!?  We were given a tour of the winery, a very free and very delicious dinner, and a gracious hug from our school’s president Ron Thomas.

And then when I sang my solo of Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours”, I kind of got a standing ovation.  From our Board of Trustees.  It’s no big deal.  STOP BRINGING IT UP!

In contrast, Underground Sound’s final performance was a flashmob in the piano lounge of the Student Union Building, which, due to how soon it occurred after we had all woken up and how very tired we were from schoolwork, was rather on the tired and lazy side.  But did we care?  NO!  We had fun!  I cuddled with the handsome Eric Sculac during one of the songs!  And afterwards, we all bought lunch from the cafeteria and spent a good hour singing our songs as we ate, but changing the lyrics to “cats n’ poop”.

Classy?  You know it.

Our final adventure came almost as a shock to me, caught so unawares was I that the fall semester was truly ending.  After driving to, and subsequently leaving, an overfilled Red Robin, we ate at a Mexican restaurant (as I mentioned earlier) and shakily ventured onto an ice rink, where we collectively fell only once – a victory, I do believe.  But there was a delightfully self-indulgent, Kodak-camera moment when we all were skating at different speeds and, as if in clumsy coordination, held hands to form a chain of Usound – a momentary collection that would never again be together in exactly the same way with the same people.  It was only for a moment, of course, for then one of the basses slipped and the chain was broken.  Stupid basses.  But still, it was a beautiful moment.

So who are these wonderful people I’ve struggled so valiantly with, you ask?  Here is the briefest description of each:

Lisa Hawkins:

-Current Co-director

-Nickname: Silent Killer

-Voice Part: Alto

-Spirit Disney Character: Mulan

Sarah Brauner:

-Current Co-director, stepping down for next semester

-Nickname: E. Nigma

-Voice Part: Soprano

-Spirit Disney Character: Belle

Kyle Erickson:

-Nickname: Lief

-Voice Part: Tenor

-Spirit Disney Character: Lumiere

Bryan Soto:

-Nickname: Prince Abubu

-Voice Part: Bass

-Spirit Disney Character: Doug from Up

Chynna Spencer:

-Nickname: Japan

-Voice Part: Alto

-Spirit Disney Character: Copper from The Fox and The Hound

Kaylene Barber:

-Nickname: Curly Temple

-Voice Part: Soprano

-Spirit Disney Character: Rapunzel from Tangled

Daniel Wolfert:

-Co-director beginning next semester, Nickname: 34DD

-Voice Part: Tenor

-Spirit Disney Character: Mulan

Eric Sculac:

-Nickname: White Cheddar

-Voice Part: Bass

-Spirit Disney Character: Wall-E

Sophia El-Wakil:

-Nickname: BP440

-Voice Part: Alto

-Spirit Disney Character: Peter Pan

Austin Michael-Harrison:

-Nickname: Philosoraptor

-Voice Part: Beatboxer

-Spirit Disney Character: I don’t know, but something weird.

At the end of the day, despite the lengthy and often exhausting rehearsals, the frustration of editing arrangements and the confusion of scheduling performances, Pitch Perfect was right in saying that getting involved in something like this can make you inclined to stay when so many other things make you inclined to leave.  Some days I just want to burn my homework and curl up into a ball beneath my sheets, but at least I’ll always have the joy of singing Taylor Swift with Chynna Spencer and the rest of the group, as you can listen to in the attached mp3: Lisa Hawkin’s Arrangement of Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”

So you’re looking for a great musical performance?  Looking for a fun and rewarding experience?  Looking for the sexiest group on campus?  And, most importantly of all, IF YOU ARE A MALE SINGER HOPING TO JOIN AN A CAPELLA GROUP THIS COMING SPRING SEMESTER, come hit us up!  That, after all, is what aca-mmunity is all about.

Well, that’s what the movie told me anyway.