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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

November 19, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Life & Culture

Non-audition a cappella group attracts large following

When thinking about a cappella clubs on the Ithaca College campus, Ithacappella is probably the first name that comes to mind. Even first-year students have probably seen their fliers or may remember them if they saw them perform on accepted students day. However, a new, up-and-coming, all-inclusive a cappella group is looking to make a name for itself around campus.

Coming off a successful performance in Emerson Suites last semester, Pitch Please is looking for new members and to continue to increase in popularity.

When the group was founded in 2012, it was a part of the larger group known as SROPAC, or Standing Room Only Performing Arts Company. The group was very small and met in the Dorothy D. and Roy H. Park Center for Business and Sustainable Enterprise. Last semester, it became an independent organization, and its numbers have been growing ever since.

Unlike Ithacappella, IC Voicestream or Premium Blend, Pitch Please is the only non-audition a cappella group on campus. Junior Jordyn Steinheiser, the president of the club, said because they accept everyone and because there is no audition process, the environment is very friendly and non-intimidating, especially to those without a background in singing or music who would still like to get involved.

“The a cappella community has always been really competitive, and a lot of people are kind of afraid of that,” Steinheiser said. “[We] give people the opportunity to do music or learn more about it and be part of a group without too much pressure.”  

In fact, sophomore Sean Gillen, Pitch Please’s musical director, joined the group after being turned away from other groups on campus. He said he enjoys having leadership opportunities within the group, where he helps people with many different levels of experience.

“From a directing standpoint, getting to work with people of all different skill levels is fun,” Gillen said.    

Senior Maddy Clark, co-social media chair, talked about her own experience and why she said she feels the college needed an all-inclusive a cappella group.

“When I was a freshman, I really wanted to do a cappella stuff because I’ve always been a singer, but I never had the time to commit to the audition groups,” she said. “I felt like I couldn’t access that part of music.”

When she found out about Pitch Please and decided to join in 2012, the group was still small and had not yet had its major breakout performance.

Still, Clark said they were able to get together and make good music in a friendly environment, while still having time for other things.

“There’s a perception that if you do a cappella, you can only do a cappella,” she said, “but it doesn’t have to work that way.”

The group enjoys performing all kinds of music but puts emphasis on songs by widely known performers such as Panic! at the Disco, Of Monsters and Men, Walk the Moon and Ed Sheeran. Steinheiser said the group takes suggestions from members, and they sing whatever works best with their talents. Both Gillen and Assistant Director Alli Fay discussed branching out and arranging electronic music and barbershop music as well.

“Alli and I both arrange a lot of the stuff that we do, like writing out the vocal parts or sounds you hear in the background,” Gillen said about performing electronic music vocally.  

Besides being all-inclusive, Steinheiser said another defining factor of Pitch Please is its size and diversity. Many members are not music majors, and some have had little or no musical experience prior to joining.  

“It’s awesome,” Steinheiser said. “As big as we are, we are like a big family. We all hang out and love each other.”

Fay said while the group’s size is an advantage, it is not without challenges.

“Since we don’t audition, we can’t set a limit on the size of the group, so we’re forced to work with what we can,” Fay said.

As big as it is now, with 28 returning members plus numerous new first-year students, the group had humble beginnings, with a dozen members or fewer.

“Last year was the first year we were on our own,” Clark said. “Being on our own has opened up new avenues for more funding, more connections to the campus community, more marketing, and our group grew exponentially.”    

Pitch Please aims to continue its upward trend since its last concert in May, which Gillen said had an amazing turnout since they were supported by both fans as well as the other a cappella groups on campus.

“We couldn’t start for a minute because [the other a cappella groups] were making too much noise,” he said.
Pitch Please meets from 7–9 p.m. on Tuesdays in room 2105 of the James J. Whalen Center for Music, and all those interested in joining are welcome. The group’s first concert will be held Dec. 2 in Emerson Suites.

Silas White can be reached at swhite5@ithaca.edu or via Twitter: @swhite_5