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The Daily Tar Heel

Loreleis sing for the fences

The Loreleis' cresting voices have carried them everywhere from local radio stations to "The Today Show."

Last Wednesday, their notes swept over Yankee Stadium, rising and falling to the words of the national anthem.

Since 1981, when the UNC a cappella group was created, it's swept up awards and won honors. Wednesday, the 16 Tar Heel singers found themselves in New York, standing in a packed stadium before the crowd gathered to watch Game 2 of the American League Championship Series between the Yankees and the Boston Red Sox.

It was an opportunity made possible by the fortuitous combination of family connections and group accomplishment. A copy of the Loreleis' CD went from the hands of George Steinbrenner's granddaughter - a current UNC student and member of the Loreleis - to the Yankees' business manager and finally into the wings, waiting to see if the team would make the ALCS.

"We basically found out Saturday that we were going to leave Tuesday," said Haley Swindal, a freshman dramatic arts and history major new to the Loreleis this year. "We had already been rehearsing because we knew that it would be a maybe."

When the Yankees won Game 4 of the American League Division Series, "maybe" turned into a flurry of preparation.

Jordan Elliott, a senior journalism major and president of the Loreleis, raved about the experience. "It's all kind of a whirlwind in my mind right now," she said.

Like a twister, the Loreleis' Fall Break trip danced around the eastern seaboard, taking them from North Carolina to Washington, D.C., then to New York by train. Detours at Boston and the University of Virginia were on the agenda for the trip back home.

"But I can say probably the best feeling in my entire life was walking out onto the field and seeing all those people," Elliott said.

The Loreleis were introduced as an all-female a cappella group from UNC - an announcement that drew hoots and cheers from the mostly male crowd, Elliott said - and sang an arrangement of the national anthem created by senior Catherine Cheng.

"It's such a pretty arrangement. It's what you can do with 16 different voices," said senior Elizabeth Wright. "It gives (the anthem) a depth that it doesn't normally have when a soloist sings it."

Elliott explained that the effect of the music, accompanied by a sell-out crowd of more than 55,000, was overwhelming.

"The crowd just roared, and we all kind of looked at each other in shock, and it took my breath away," she said.

From cramped cars to stretch limos, the Loreleis went through the gamut of transportation, traveling miles of pavement on the way to New York but finding a party bus waiting for them upon arrival.

"It was like a rock star car," Elliott said. "We felt like celebrities."

But singing the national anthem was the highlight of their trip.

"It was the most intense five minutes of my life."

Leaving the field elated and overjoyed, the Loreleis were led to a private box, and in the ninth inning, they visited Steinbrenner's box, where they met Billy Crystal and Donald Trump.

And to top off a fairy-tale weekend, the Loreleis serenaded Trump with Pat Benetar's "Heartbreaker" - and were dealt with accordingly.

"He actually told me I was fired," Elliott laughed.

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