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Monday August 15th

UNC a cappella groups reflect on building community during COVID-19 and look ahead

The Achordants performed three upbeat numbers.
Buy Photos The Achordants performed three upbeat numbers.

After a year of atypical performances, a cappella groups at UNC look forward to providing in-person opportunities for new members this fall.

Singers found ways to showcase their work and bond through being part of the a cappella community despite having limited opportunities last year. Now, they're looking ahead to their goals for the upcoming semester.

Connections and conversations during COVID-19

The pandemic forced these groups to create music in unconventional ways, such as through Zoom or meeting outside at parking decks, where social distancing was easier.

Madeline Yara, a senior and the president of The Tarpeggios, said the group gained a lot of useful experience and met many new people while making music virtually. She said she was able to make close connections with her peers throughout the audition process and have heartfelt conversations over Zoom.

"This year with the virtual setting, students would send in one video for all of the auditions," she said. "We got to know students a lot better that way and see a broader scope of the groups and how they're different."

UNC Cadence is another group that had to adapt to changing circumstances while staying true to its passion. President Yolanda Simpson, a senior, said the group's primary focus was providing a positive experience for its graduating members.

Tyler Cochrane, a senior and the president of the Achordants, said holding online events helped the club practice new skills and learn new ways to create content — such as music videos. 

Bringing the community together

Even though COVID-19 limited opportunities for these groups, being part of the UNC a cappella community was special for many members. 

Simpson said the a cappella community helped her find herself as well as form new relationships. She said Cadence aims to encourage people to express themselves — no matter their identity. 

"It has helped me figure out my own identity," Simpson said. "We have so many people from different backgrounds with different stories. We try to encourage open conversation and bonding through our shared experiences."

Cochrane said even though singing brought them together, it is the bonds and relationships that make the a cappella community strong. He said his peers are his favorite part of the Achordants. 

"Every single person in this group is one of my closest friends," he said. "It's not just the love of the music that binds us, but also the community itself because it's such a welcoming environment."

Simpson said working with other a cappella groups on campus is one of Cadence's main goals for the upcoming semester. The interpersonal connections between a cappella groups come from collaborating and having events together, she said. 

With in-person events likely to resume in the fall, Cochrane said a cappella groups are recruiting new members for the 2021-2022 academic year.

Cochrane said students should consider auditioning this fall because of the opportunities that come with being an a cappella singer at UNC.

A cappella groups will hold auditions around the start of classes in August. 

"It's a good opportunity to meet new people, and we'd love to see you at auditions," Cochrane said.

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