Spring Sing 2023: ScatterTones to return to stage with emotional rendition of ‘ceilings’
ScatterTones walk with phones in hand as they rehearse. The a cappella group will return to the Spring Sing stage with all new members after its previous performance in 2020. (Neha Krishnakumar/Daily Bruin)
May 19, 2023 1:12 a.m.
The ScatterTones are putting hearts on the bassline.
The a cappella group is warming up to take the Spring Sing stage for the first time since 2020 with a rendition of Lizzy McAlpine’s “ceilings.” ScatterTones alto and third-year communication student Janie Ziemacki said she began arranging the piece before the song gained traction on TikTok because the group greatly admired McAlpine. The musicians captured the song’s passion when first learning the arrangement and are now eager to share their experience with audiences, said music director and fourth-year psychology student Trevor Remeyer.
“(It was) just this very emotionally intimate moment where we got to sing with each other and hear this arrangement come to fruition for the first time,” Remeyer said. “Knowing that it’s what we’re going to be able to share with the student body as a whole is something we can really be proud of.”
The ScatterTones initially rehearsed “ceilings” during its fall quarter retreat while seated in a Lake Arrowhead cabin, Remeyer said. The annual event serves as a crucial opportunity for the group to grow as both friends and musicians, Ziemacki said, so the emotional song functioned as a fitting medium to simultaneously blend voices and relationships. Second-year microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics student and ScatterTones baritone Danny Smith said the arrangement came together more naturally than usual because it arose from the group developing sincere connections.
Since then, the team members have worked on a variety of tactics to bring their vulnerability to the Spring Sing stage, Remeyer said. Vocally, he said his emphasis as director is on mastering dynamics, from delicate softness to bold crescendos, in order to maximize the emotional impact of the performance. Ziemacki, who is the song’s soloist, said she has remained in frequent communication with the music directors while exploring new vocal techniques for the act.
Pairing the music with effective visual components has also been an important step on the road to Spring Sing, Smith said, who is also a member of the group’s choreography team. During moments of greater volume, he said he sought to include larger physical movements to parallel the piece’s intensity. Reflecting on the song has proved conducive to identifying key places for choreography, he said.
“Thinking about what the song means to us allows us to connect those moments where we really feel something in a song to the choreography we’re doing at that moment,” Smith said. “It’s allowing them to mesh both the facial expressions that we’re conveying, as well as the vocal dynamics.”
Part of the ScatterTones’ excitement for its performance stems from the fact that it will mark every member’s first time on the Spring Sing stage as a group, Remeyer said. After devoting the last academic year to a third-place win at the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella, the singers were elated to refocus on their personal growth, Smith said. Without the stress of yearlong rehearsing, Ziemacki said the musicians could prioritize crafting new arrangements while breathing new life into the group.
Beyond bonding further as a team, Smith said the event also represents the group’s increased involvement with the UCLA community and the greater Los Angeles area. Ziemacki added that Spring Sing provides a chance for the ScatterTones to connect with other a cappella peers on campus and foster new relationships with students who share the group’s love for the arts.
While nearing Spring Sing, the musicians’ main goal is to take the crowd on the emotional journey that “ceilings” details, Smith said. As an a cappella group, the ScatterTones rely heavily on collaboration, he said, and the team’s rehearsals emphasize how its connections are portrayed to the audience. By approaching the event with the mindset that they have nothing to prove but everything to share, Remeyer said they hope the audience can experience the team’s connectedness.
“I remember being super nervous for the audition, … and I was like, ‘You know what? As long as we practice hard and show our love for each other, that’s all that’s going to matter.’ And in the end, that’s what got us here,” Ziemacki said. “We can’t wait to share what we have with everyone on the stage.”
Email Munck at [email protected] or tweet @vmunckDB.