U’s A cappella group looks to make a name for itself

In what looked like a scene out of “Pitch Perfect,” Infrared, the U’s A cappella team, held auditions Friday for its new season.

The group, which began about seven years ago, is looking to replace almost the entire team, said John Bergquist, a senior in music education and musical director of Infrared.

Eight of the ten members from last season either graduated or will not be returning, so 27 students lined up inside David Gardner Hall in hopes of joining the club.

Students await their turn to audition for Infared, the U's acapella group, in Libby Gardner Hall, Friday, August 28, 2015.
Students await their turn to audition for Infared, the U’s acapella group, in Libby Gardner Hall, Friday, August 28, 2015.

Hunter Olson, an undeclared sophomore, came to auditions ready to belt out “Latch” by Sam Smith to earn him back his spot on the team. Olson sang as a tenor for Infrared last year and learned a lot from the experience.

“I love music,” Olson said. “Infrared was a nice way to balance that out and sing something a little more modern and entertaining.”

Taylor Mott, a sophomore in EAE film and media arts, came to try out because of her love for music. Mott sang in an A cappella group in high school, and although she is part of a few choirs on campus, she hasn’t found the same spirit as she got from making music without instrumental accompaniment. Plus, she said it helps keep her well-balanced at school.

“It takes a ton of stress off,” she said. “It’s extra work, but it is work that I really enjoy. I need variety in my life. I like having a different venue for my energy.”

Michael Mitchell, a sophomore in piano performance, performs a scales exercise during an audition for Infared, the U's acapella group, in Libby Gardner Hall, Friday, August 28, 2015.
Michael Mitchell, a sophomore in piano performance, performs a scales exercise during an audition for Infared, the U’s acapella group, in Libby Gardner Hall, Friday, August 28, 2015.

This year’s auditions brought in more students than Infrared has ever seen, and call-backs will be taking place later in the week. Bergquist believes A cappella has become so popular because of recent attention in films and the media, but also because of the style of the music.

“When you come to an Infrared concert you want the audience to tap their foot along and like what they hear and are familiar with, but we also like to surprise them and be creative with what we do,” he said.

A cappella songs are typically pop songs performed in mash-ups, or a mix of several songs. As musical director, Bergquist is in charge of coming up with these arrangements, and he won the Outstanding Arrangement Award at last year’s international competition.

This year’s team will hopefully compete again in the championships next spring, but they have other goals in sight. Bergquist is looking to create a brand for Infrared by reaching out to students in graphic design, web design and film.

“I want to bring the talents of other students on campus to promote the group,” he said.

Bergquist hopes to create a professional experience for students to work on a project and see the team expand. The group is also excited to launch an album in November. They were able to raise enough money from fundraising last year and are working with producers from Vocal Point to create the CD, which students can pre-order by emailing [email protected]

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@carolyn_webber