Absence of accompaniment: MSUM’s a cappella group in full sing
By Aaron Simmons
If you were to stroll through the Center for the Arts and hear the sound of tight harmonies coupled with a vocal percussionist, you may think the next round of auditions for “Pitch Perfect 4” were taking place here in Moorhead.
Started in the spring of 2016 after the music department’s multi-year a cappella hiatus, Solfire, MSUM’s a cappella organization, has enlisted the voices of 13 auditioned voices: 12 singers and a vocal percussionist, all of whom must be in a curricular choir on campus.
One of those 12 singers is Noah Roddy, a junior and a vocal music education major from Coon Rapids, Minnesota. Though not a founding member, Roddy has been in Solfire from the beginning.
“I’m in the curricular choirs, and while I think that that is super helpful, especially towards my major, a cappella singing is just songs you can relate to more,” Roddy said. “You know them from the radio and (being) with your friends, and it’s fun to get to recreate that in a different way that uses only your vocals.”
Each a cappella group has a unique taste in music, as it’s important to perform selections the singers are the most passionate about. According to Roddy, the taste of Solfire can be found in many areas.
“We try to do any pop a cappella selection,” Roddy said. “We have songs from the 60s, some from the 80s, some from the late 2000s. We have two Christmas songs: ‘Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy,’ which is from a ballet, or an African noel song. So it’s a very broad spectrum of anything that is a cappella.”
Junior Emily Moser, also a vocal music education major, is a Solfire singer and the group’s social media coordinator. She has found a unique oasis within the absence of accompaniment.
“It’s something so different than what I do daily, because I’m in most of the choirs here,” Moser said. “I do a bunch of choral singing, and then I have my voice lessons, and then I have Solfire; it’s just something out of the norm that breaks up the day.”
The group’s public outings vary from planned concerts, such as the one on Dec. 4 when Solfire will team up with the Music Theater Ensemble, to pop-up performances around campus consisting of a song or two.
No matter where a gig is or how big of an event is planned, Moser will be there promoting the group on social media.
“When we’re performing, we put out a shoutout: ‘Hey, come watch us,’ or ‘Hey, come to the Dragon Cafe; we’ll be there,’ to just try to get our name out that way,” Moser said. “We actually shot a video two weeks ago, and we’re going to try to do a promo video in a few days.”
So, if you happen to hear a set of singing voices unencumbered by instruments while you’re on campus, don’t search for the movie cameras. Instead, take some time and listen.