Blaring lights, a screaming audience of 7,000 and a stage bigger than most imagine: The chance to perform in such circumstances rarely presents itself even for some of the most talented singers and a cappella groups at UCLA. But with Spring Sing fast approaching, Signature A Cappella, Bruin Harmony and Random Voices must prepare to take on such a stage.
“It doesn’t really hit you until the first time they let you rehearse on the stage. You look out and there are just seats upon seats in your vision and they shine the lights and you can’t see anything. Then the gravity of Spring Sing hits you,” said Monica Manrique, third-year biology student and business director of Random Voices.
This year, the three groups will take the stage within the show’s a cappella category. Signature A Cappella has taken great efforts to fine-tune details of its performance and sound, according to Tasha Wenger, first-year social sciences student and member of Signature A Cappella.
“Forget that it’s fifth week; it’s Spring Sing week,” Wenger said.
Established in 2007, Signature A Cappella consists of 16 female members. Last year, the group performed at Spring Sing with a Michael Jackson medley, and this year it looks to bring the same kind of energy with a mashup that will start with a mellow feel and continue with a great acceleration in speed, according to Melodie Ampuero, fourth-year psychology student and co-director of Signature A Cappella.
Ampuero said the group intends to relay the value of one’s distinctiveness with its performance.
“The songs really complement each other; they work to bring out the celebration of individuality that we’re trying to get across,” Ampuero said. “Picking the right set of songs is such a difficult task, you have to try to find a balance.”
UCLA’s only all-male a cappella group, Bruin Harmony, feels fortunate in a similar way, according to Ben Davies, fourth-year English student and president of Bruin Harmony.
“Especially since we missed Spring Sing last year, we’re really excited. Very few people in college get the opportunity to say that they’re going to go onstage … and perform for a screaming audience,” Davies said.
Bruin Harmony has performed in Spring Sing since its establishment in 2006, with the exception of last year. Now, the group plans to take a new spin on its performance with intense choreography and fast-paced music, according to Davies.
As the only male a cappella group on campus, Bruin Harmony is known for its different, deeper sound and good humor during performances. The group’s most recent Spring Sing win in the a cappella category happened two years ago with its version of “I Want You Back” by N’Sync.
“This year’s song is definitely upbeat. We want to bring a lot of energy to get the crowd on their feet dancing with us,” Davies said. “As important as the music is, it’s also about facial expressions and enjoying the performance ourselves so the audience feels that.”
Random Voices, an all-female group who performed “Toxic” by Britney Spears at least year’s show, will also feature its vocal abilities through a crowd-pleasing set, according to Manrique.
“The arrangement is creative and there are little surprises written in the music. The song is one of inspiration; it relays the beauty of life and it’s all about joy,” Manrique said.
Random Voices strives to put emphasis on lower sounds, emulating a deeper, richer tone that male bass vocalists give to co-ed groups, as opposed to a common mistake made by many all-female groups of having a top-heavy sound consisting only of higher tones, according to Manrique.
Manrique said that Random Voices strives to break the stereotype for what a female group should look like.
“If you looked at our last spring concert, we just wore ridiculous costumes. One of our members even dressed up as Sandy from SpongeBob and wore a fish bowl on her head,” Manrique said. “We try to break barriers and get away from the expectation that a female group needs to wear high heels, short skirts and sing only feminine songs.”
No matter each group’s musical choice or historical background, however, Spring Sing provides an overwhelming sensory experience for almost every performer, according to Davies.
“It’s a totally surreal moment when they call your group’s name onstage; I remember a couple years ago, I couldn’t even hear the note that our music director was playing because everyone was screaming so loudly,” Davies said. “I had to take a couple moments to center myself and be like, “˜All right, it’s time to perform.’”