Hear Georgetown a cappella in full bloom during annual Spring Sing showcase

April 12, 2024

Design by Maggie Zhang

On April 13, Georgetown’s six a cappella groups will come together for their final performance of the year, Spring Sing. The event, co-hosted by The Saxatones and Superfood, will also feature sets from The Capitol G’s, The GraceNotes, The Chimes, and The Phantoms. The annual showcase closes out the Georgetown a cappella season, following The Chimes’ Cherry Tree Massacre in February and The GraceNotes’ D.C. A Cappella Festival (DCAF) in November.

“It’s like that last hurrah, a big concert with all the six a cappella groups to show off those last songs that we’ve been arranging and working on,” Saxatones president Ava MacLaughlin (CAS ’25) said. “It’s just like a joyful celebration of spring with fun, upbeat songs.”

To understand the inner workings of Georgetown’s a cappella community and preview what’s in store for this year’s Spring Sing, I infiltrated (politely asked to attend) the Saxatones’ and Superfood’s rehearsals and talked to the student leaders of both groups.

The first group I visited was Superfood, Georgetown’s only competitive a cappella group. While most Georgetown groups focus solely on on-campus performances like Spring Sing, Superfood travels to the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella every other year. Late one Tuesday, I found myself in the Old North basement, a hidden enclave of Georgetown musical talent, listening to choruses of “zoom-zoom-zoom-zoom-de-zoom-de-zoom-zoom” from a dozen or so undergrads in a circle. I later learned that they were rehearsing the background vocals for “Zombie” by The Cranberries—the group’s “alumni song.”

It was one of the first songs performed by the group after they were founded in 1995, and has been kept in Superfood’s repertoire ever since. “The idea is that if alumni come to their performance, they can come on stage [and sing with us],” Superfood co-president Yana Gitelman (SFS ’25) said.

They then pivoted to practice of “July,” a slow, mournful ballad by Noah Cyrus. For one of the most devastating verses—“’Cause you remind me every day / I’m not enough but I still stay”—the chorus of voices grew increasingly loud, then quieted down as it shifted to a solo by alto Kate Vermylen (MSB ’25) on the final words. The verse dramatically filled the room, and the shift in volume had a heart-wrenching effect.

The decidedly gloomy “Zombie” and “July” are not the only songs featured in Superfood’s repertoire, however. According to the group’s co-presidents, Superfood’s Spring Sing performance will include renditions of the funky ’70s hit “In the Stone” by Earth, Wind & Fire and a medley of dream-themed songs.

Dubbed the “dreams medley,” this portion of the performance uses its titular theme to explore a wide range of genres, opening with “Mr. Sandman” by The Chordettes before shifting into “Sweet Dreams” by Eurythmics, “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac, “California Dreamin’” by The Mamas & the Papas, and “Sweet Dreams” by Beyoncé. The medley features performances by Kate Vermylen and Walden Capen (MSB/CAS ’26), and it also spotlights Superfood’s seniors in a number of solo and trio portions.

“It’s every senior in every group’s last performance, so I feel like it kind of brings that out sentimentally,” Superfood co-president Margaret Tracey (CAS ’25) said. “It is every group’s last concert, so there’s that added element. Everyone gets emotional.”

The Saxatones, Georgetown’s community service-oriented a cappella group, is also hard at work preparing for the event. When I strolled into their rehearsal in a small Reynolds practice room, I found 10 members of the group practicing their arrangement of the One Direction hit “Night Changes.” 

They were crafting a harmony behind the closing lyrics, “It will never change / it will never change, baby / it will never change / me and you,” with Terry Kyei (CAS ’25) and Sam Morris-Kliment (CAS ’26) singing the lyrics and the rest of the group on background vocals. Basses and tenors sang “ooo-oOO,” going from a low note to a higher one, while altos and sopranos at the same time sang “OOO-OOo-ooo” going lower, then higher, then lower again. While the component parts may have seemed nonsensical, their arrangement, once assembled, added lush depth to the boy band classic.

Both Superfood and the Saxatones typically practice for six hours per week, their presidents said—a significant time commitment that has led to a sense of camaraderie and community in both groups.

“You wouldn’t expect that I have so mucpassion for these songs, but when we’re coming together in a group, and we’re picking fun of each other, or we’re sending silly [memes in the group chat], it really makes all that hard work worthwhile,” MacLaughlin said.

Like their Spring Sing co-hosts, the Saxatones also have a lineup of hits in store for the showcase, including “Yoü and I” by Lady Gaga and “Closer to You” by Sammy Rae & the Friends, as well as a soul-themed senior medley incorporating songs by The Jackson 5 and Etta James.

“It’s a long process and it takes a lot of focus, which sometimes we don’t always have,” MacLaughlin joked. “But we’re coming on really strong and I’m so excited.”

Among Saxatones’ soloists are Khaki Sawyer (CAS ’26) and Sofi Schlesinger (CAS ’24), the lead singer of Georgetown’s student band Rosewater. The group’s four seniors will also perform solos.

When asked why she believed Georgetown students should go to Spring Sing, Gitelman pointed out the time and dedication that the groups’ members have put into their craft, as well as how integral a cappella is to the Georgetown community.

“I just think it’s special to see your peers perform, and it’s something that’s definitely a unique type of performance,” she said. “There’s something kind of silly about a cappella to a lot of people, but I think it’s just such a creative type of art, and every part of the arrangement and the performance takes so much effort.”

“And,” she added. “It’s really fun to listen to.” 

Spring Sing will take place on April 13 at 6:30 p.m. in Gaston Hall. Tickets can be purchased at CampusGroups for $5. All proceeds will be donated to D.C. Central Kitchen.

Margaret Hartigan
Margaret is a senior in the college majoring in government with minors in Spanish and journalism. Her favorite study spot on campus is the Voice office or, in desperate times, the fifth floor of Lau with a large red eye. She is currently the Service Chair

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