A Cappella Voices Echo Beyond Their Walls

Spreading their talent outside the school, A Cappella will be performing at Church of the Resurrection on December 3rd and National Presbyterian Church on December 17th.

Having previously worked with Strathmore, a performing arts theater in Maryland, A Cappella’s performance at Church of the Resurrection will be in conjunction with two groups from Strathmore. Their performance at National Presbyterian is run by the City Choir of Washington.

With assistance from clinicians Joe Cerutti from Alexandria Harmonizers and Dr. Ken Elpus from the University of Maryland, the group prepared extensively for their church performances. “They worked with us on things like stage presence, text painting, and energizing our sound,” says senior Beth Ann Zinkievich.

One of the challenges is managing their time trying to prepare for community performances, as well as school concerts. “We have doubled and probably even tripled our repertoire, so we have to learn and perfect several different pieces in a short amount of time,” senior Camilla Barillas says.

Working harmoniously to produce perfect pitch and quality tone is not always an easy task. Along with choral music teacher Sandra Zinkievich, Cerutti and Elpus have helped the group acknowledge their mistakes so that the corrections are clearly heard by the audience.

Mrs. Zinkievich emphasizes the impact the advice of an outsider has on the group. She says, “Sometimes they say the same thing that I do but in a different way that clicks for one student.” Additionally, working with a college professor may peak the interest of the students to continue singing in college.

Whilst being the voices of reason, clinicians Cerutti and Elpus are also the voices of motivation for the student performers. They often complement the ensemble for its college-level performance and demeanor, as well as the students’ willingness to perfect and improve their art form.

The community performances allow students to expand their skills in a more formal setting.  “We get to work with professionals in the field and get real world experience that we can apply in the future to ourselves,” says Zinkievich.

Another goal behind expanding the ensemble’s performances beyond Blake’s walls is developing a positive musical reputation. “[We want] to raise an awareness about the caliber of students we have at Blake, and the work they are doing in the choral music department,” says Mrs. Zinkievich.

According to Mrs. Zinkievich, there are several aspects to the goals of the group. Ranging from personal satisfaction to that of the students’ listeners, there is no one set goal that they wish to achieve. Mrs. Zinkievich says, “Ultimately, there are lots of goals and we’ll be happy to achieve as many of those as we possibly can.”