By Lily Jensen '24
A certain feeling fills my chest when I hear a song that I know by heart performed in front of me. Only, it sounds somehow just like the original and also completely different. This feeling came in abundance throughout the 2023 edition of the GFS A Capella Fest. Especially during GFS’ 90s-themed A Cappella medley, beginning with One Hand in My Pocket by Alanis Morrisette before moving into That Thing by Lauryn Hill and finally Waterfalls by TLC. Although being crammed onto a Loeb bench and surrounded by 250 people usually is not my ideal night, when you can feel every person around you having a “hey I know that song’ moment, it becomes a sacrifice you are happily willing to make.
A Cappella Fest is an annual two night event that celebrates the greatest hits of our time and the creativity and talent throughout the surrounding community. Each night has a first half of high school performers, with GFS closing Act 1 strong with a signature medley. The second half brings professionalism with college groups like Villanova, Temple, Penn, and Vassar. This variety from night to night and set list to set list sets A Cappella Fest apart from other performances and athletic events on campus. Tate Jensen ‘24 (Music Director of A Cappella) explains that A Cappella fest also includes “professional guys” (A Cappella producers) who do lighting and sound for A Cappella groups nationally. Margaret Harvey ‘23 (Co-President of A Cappella) explains that the “whole atmosphere fest is so different..I don't know any other production like it.” A Cappella Fest is a peacock amongst a sea of pigeons like high school performances. Not only does it meet the mark but it surpasses it, giving the audience an interactive, emotional, and rewarding experience.
Beyond the flashing lights and the cool college groups with stylish outfits all coordinated in the same color scheme, A Cappella Fest is unique because of the crowd. Just like in live sports and theater, every moment is an exchange between the audience and the performers. And the charismatic and charming Allen Drew (Head of GFS A Cappella) only adds to the spirit of the evening, setting the tone this year M.C. ing and sharing his A Cappella version of Fly Eagles Fly. What makes this energy extraordinary at A Cappella Fest is how obvious it is that the performers are having fun and are connecting with each other. Jensen describes his favorite part of A Cappella as the “connectivity” he adds that “everybody feels really connected and everybody knows that what we just did was like, really freaking cool…and just that like look around the room of like, oh my God, like we all like, that was just really fun..” Chloe Braum- Bharti ‘23 (Co-President of A Cappella) says that she learned how it is “good to be observant” and that “one person can’t do it on their own” from her time in A Cappella. The strong connection throughout every group regardless of technical talent or age is always evident. Another huge draw for the audience of A Capella Fest: Seeing others form positive bonds and create spectacular art generally inspires the audience to do the same, the root of what Fest is all about. Jensen explains that audience interaction is a signature element to A Cappella Fest,
“there's a lot of cheering whenever anything cool happens, which might even just be someone starts singing and they have a really good voice.”
Watching everyone have so much fun and watching people watching people having fun is such a beautiful human condition. If a group of people, big or small, gathered together in a room to watch talented people make weird sounds for a couple hours more often, the world would be a better place. It’s impossible not to root for the lovable and entertaining groups of singers sans instruments. A Cappella Fest is worth it in every way you will most likely laugh, cry, and get frozen in a state of pure, genuine awe.
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