A cappella concert celebrates importance of performing arts


A cappella groups from 15 high schools and three colleges, including UK’s Paws ‘n Listen and acoUstiKats, were in attendance at Voices in Harmony.

McKenna Horsley

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Memorial Hall was filled with high notes and long chords as a cappella performers from across the mid-south took to the stage to share and educate one another about the importance of music.

Voices in Harmony is an a cappella group showcase “dedicated to bringing in the very best professional a cappella groups,” according to their website. The event began six years ago in Lexington Catholic High School, but grew too large for the school to sustain.

A cappella groups from 15 high schools and three colleges, including UK’s Paws ‘n Listen and acoUstiKats, were in attendance. UK Choir students and a cappella professionals from ARORA and Dakaboom led classes and workshops for the program.

All groups performed for each other during the event in Memorial Hall. A Cappella Education Association and the UK Choirs sponsored this year’s event.

The lessons led up to a concert featuring acoUstiKats and Paws ‘n Listen, as well as ARORA, Dakaboom and Forte, a high school group from Centerville, Ohio. Both of UK’s a cappella groups performed their sets for the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella next week.

Annie DeVries, a freshman music education major and member of Paws ‘n Listen, said she enjoyed performing for Voices in Harmony.

“I think it’s so important to have the music and arts schools,” DeVries said. “A lot of the time people think it’s the lame thing to do, but really it is the best thing to do.”

Jon Lannertone, an arts administration junior and a member of acoUstiKats, believes events like Voices in Harmony are important for aspiring a cappella performers.

“There are a lot of high school kids here that will go to college,” Lannertone said.  “If they see the acoUstiKats come out and we have a fun time … they are going to love what we did and want to be a part of it.”

Voices in Harmony’s show producers are John DeFerraro, Ben Spalding and Nick Johnson, who are all current a cappella teachers are also alumni of acoUstiKats.

“More than anything else, we hope that this created a supportive environment for everyone to share and learn because some of these schools are 200 miles from the nearest group,” DeFerraro said. “Choirs are everywhere, bands are everywhere, but a cappella groups aren’t super widespread.”

The Athertones from Atherton High School in Louisville sang renditions of “Blackbird”, “The Best Day of My Life” and “Under Pressure” during an informal performance.

Kenny Kendrick, a freshman in the Athertones, said this performance, was the first time all group members used a microphone on “Under Pressure,” and the group was a little “cautious.”

“We definitely push ourselves to make sure we sound the best,” Kendrick said.

The Wright State University’s ETHOS was featured in an informal performance Saturday afternoon, in which they debuted their version of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.”

“For myself and for other people, we get so caught up in what we have to do as a music student … (A cappella) is an outlet for us,” said Monique Cooper, a member of ETHOS. “(Singing is) a source of emotional release.”