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'Incredible energy': UNC a cappella groups perform at Sunset Serenade

UNC senior Isabelle Kosempa, alumna Casey Kibe and junior Logan Kaelin are pictured from left to right performing a group solo with the UNC Walk-Ons.
LISTEN: Students gather at Sunset Serenade

UNC Tarpeggios, UNC Samaa and other groups performed at the annual concert on campus on Monday. Listen now for reporting from Natalie Bradin. 

Excitement filled the air as students and community members gathered in Polk Place on Monday to hear UNC's a cappella groups perform in front of South Building.

Sunset Serenade is an annual a cappella concert hosted by the Student Alumni Association to celebrate the new school year. 

“Each performance is a little bit different," Brooke Willse, concert manager for the UNC Tarpeggios, said. "And since this was such a special performance, I think we all felt this incredible energy just seeing all the students here and seeing their reaction and feeding off of their energy and celebrating the start of the year, which will hopefully be a wonderful year."

Students gather on Polk Place to watch the annual Sunset Serenade. Sunset Serenade is a showcase where UNC a cappella groups perform for students.

Willse attended Sunset Serenade last year and said she was enamored with all the groups, but she felt something click inside of her as she watched the Tarpeggios. Getting to perform with them this year as a member felt special, she said. 

With auditions right around the corner, Sunset Serenade gives a cappella groups the chance to showcase their music to the UNC community and reach new talent. 

“It’s really important for people, and especially freshmen, to know that there is space on this campus especially to find your passion and to follow it as far as you can,” Luke Farinelli, music director for the UNC Achordants, said.

Sunthoshini Premsankar, co-president of UNC Samaa, said Sunset Serenade gives the group the unique opportunity to share their culture and music alongside the other a cappella groups.

UNC Samaa perform at Sunset Serenade on August 21, 2023. Samaa is a South Asian fusion a cappella group.

Samaa blends Western and South Asian styles of music, according to their website.

“Especially for me, coming out of state, it’s super welcoming to have people that are similar to you in both their love for singing but also in backgrounds,” Premsankar said. “And it's nice to have that kind of a safety net — no matter what goes on in the week, I’m seeing my people and I get to see them in a way that I enjoy, which is great.” 

Will Kleinschmidt, a member of the UNC Walk-Ons, said a cappella tends to get a stigma for being corny and cheesy — similar to the movie "Pitch Perfect".

He often has to explain that a cappella has evolved and pushed more boundaries since the movie's release, he said.

Olivia Stokes, a member of UNC Cadence, said there is so much love and support between the communities that happens behind the scenes. During microphone exchanges on Monday, all the a cappella groups cheered and celebrated each other’s performances, she said. 

Julia Froese, a member of UNC Cadence, said even though she has been singing her whole life and knew she was going to join an a cappella group in college, the memories and friendships she has made along the way have meant more than the music. 

“UNC a cappella is so diverse," Froese said. "It’s really a bunch of groups that come together separately on stage, but together in heart."

UNC Psalm 100 perform at Sunset Serenade on August 21, 2023. Psalm 100 is a co-ed Christian a capella group.

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