Originally published in the Los Angeles Loyolan. For original, please refer to: Pitched off – Los Angeles Loyolan.
Do you hear the people sing?
If you do, chances are one of LMU’s a cappella groups is performing nearby.
The art of making music with only your mouth, which got a spotlight in last year’s film “Pitch Perfect,” has been alive and well on LMU’s campus since 2009. That was the year that saw the founding of Notetorious, LMU’s first recognized a cappella group.
Despite being only four years old, according to Notetorious music director and junior theatre arts major Maddie Dial, the group has been well-received by the LMU community.
“We are recognized for being such a new group,” Dial said. “Usually, on other campuses, a cappella groups have been around for like, 50 years, and there are a bunch of them. It’s nice having that recognition being so young of a group.”
Notetorious isn’t singing solo anymore. In 2011, a second group was formed: the One Night Stanzas. While One Night Stanzas remains unrecognized by the University – and thus does not receive funding – and though the two groups have somewhat different musical directions, they share one thing in common: an original member in senior music major Joe Dhanens.
While Dhanens was the music director for Notetorious, a difference in creative choices led to a split.
“Notetorious was going in a musical direction that was more poppy, and I didn’t really want that direction,” Dhanens said. After a conversation with friend and sophomore music major Eric Escalante, Dhanens left Notetorious to form his own a cappella group, which would soon become TheOne Night Stanzas.
“He was in Notetorious, and then he wanted to do kind of a different direction,” Dial said, “which is interesting, because we’re all over the place in music, and they’re trying to stick to a different genre of music.”
According to Escalante, there is a perceived rivalry between the two groups because of Dhanens’ previous involvement with Notetorious. Despite what both groups’ music directors describe as “friendly competition,” both think they can coexist together.
“[Having two groups] keeps you creative. It keeps the a cappella groups working hard and motivated,” Escalante said.
“I think it’d be fun to have performances at the same time, because they do have completely different music,” Dial added.
Though several other schools only have one recognized a cappella group, including similarly sized and religiously affiliated University of San Diego, two is still a low number compared to several schools – for example, according to Yale University’s Singing Group Council webpage, the Ivy League school has 15 a cappella groups. Dhanens and Escalante said they think LMU could handle more groups.
For Dial, however, thenumber of groups isn’t as important as making sure a cappella is heard.
“I personally just love a cappella, and I think everyone should love a cappella,” she said. “So as many people are performing around is great, just to get people into the culture of a cappella.”
She continued, “We all have such a love for it, and we love performing, and we love moving people with our music.”