The Daily Tar Heel

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Saturday October 16th


Chapel Hill Rockapella: The Loreleis

Throughout the fall semester, Canvas will follow several of UNC’s student a cappella groups, looking and listening to what makes each unique.

In this fourth installment of the series, staff writer Sarah McQuillan talked to the nationally-renowned Loreleis.

Named after the mythical siren known to lure sailors to their deaths with her beautiful voice, the UNC Loreleis have been captivating audiences with music since their formation in 1981.

The ladies live up to their namesake in a unique way — instead of luring sailors to their doom, they lure bats down from the attic.

“One time we were singing in a building for practice the week of a concert, and evidently animal control came and told us that our harmonies were bringing the bats out of the rafters,” said president and senior Sara Larcher. “So we had to keep moving into different rooms of the building because the bats kept coming where we were singing.”

Although the ability to attract bats with their voices may cause one to question their talent, the Loreleis’ harmonies led them to win the first ever International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella competition in 1996. 

Since then, the group has competed every other year in the ICCAs, and is already preparing for this year’s competition. 

According to Loreleis’ business manager and sophomore Brynn Cameron, the ICCA performance requires a lot more effort than most concerts. With only 12 minutes of performance time, the ladies must nail their set list in addition to throwing in some extra pizazz for the judges.

“They typically accept more choreography as well, like what you saw in 'Pitch Perfect,'” Cameron said, referencing the 2012 hit movie about an all-female a cappella group.

Larcher said the Loreleis actually have a special connection to the film, as they were mentioned in the book it was based on. She said the book is about the ICCAs, and that it's actually a somewhat authentic representation of a real-life a cappella group.

“It’s pretty accurate in terms of all the hours that go into it,” Larcher said. “But I don’t think we’re crazy and throw up and fight and claw for holding the pitch pipe like they do.”

In addition to their big ICCA gig, the Loreleis perform in multiple shows throughout the school year. Concert manager and sophomore Ellie Cain said the Loreleis’ fall concert will be held on Nov. 7 in the Playmakers’ Theater. The group will also be touring over fall break.

Last spring the Loreleis were asked to open for Jay Leno at the Durham Performing Arts Center.

“He was hilarious. He came in and he was very genuine about being excited to see us,” Larcher said. 

In addition to opening for Leno, the Loreleis have performed and recorded with singer-songwriter Ben Folds and have sung at Yankee Stadium. The group has also been invited to participate in popular reality television shows.

“We get asked a lot to audition for things like ‘The Sing Off’  and ‘The Voice,’  and it’s usually not feasible,” Cameron said. “It would require all of us to take time off of school — which school definitely, obviously comes first. But those are cool opportunities that are available.”

The Loreleis' repertoire ranges from classical pieces to Lorde’s pop hit "Royals", and they make sure to let their personalities shine through with each selection. With only 16 members, the girls are a tightly knit bunch sharing a common love of singing. As an all-female group, they reach the super high notes that make for beautiful harmonies — and as bat calls. 

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