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Students Singing Their Hearts Out

Choral Clubs to Fit All Musical Styles

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The UMass Lowell Gospel Choir recently performed at the inauguration of UMass President Robert Caret.

By Julia Gavin

When James Ham came to UMass Lowell three years ago, he was disappointed to find that the University was lacking an a cappella group. To solve the problem, Ham founded Hawkapella with five other students. The group, which now has 15 members and a growing repertoire, is just one of several singing groups recently established on campus.

“Singing groups bring so much to campus:  energy, spunk and a unity that is unlike any other groups on campus,” says Ashley Tello, president of the new UMass Lowell Glee Club. “They’re a creative outlet to show just how talented our students are.”

The Glee Club’s message of unity and self-expression is echoed by Hawkapella as well as the UMass Lowell Gospel Choir and Boomshacapella.  All four groups aim to bring their members and the campus together through music.

Fordeline Thermitus, who founded the University’s Gospel Choir in 2009, says that the group strives to give people “a sense of belonging and community” on campus. They also work to build lasting relationships with other universities through performances. She says that the choir gives students a place to connect through a shared love of music, regardless of their religious beliefs.

“Gospel music is two things: the genre and the religious aspect,” says Thermitus. “All religions on campus are represented in our choir and no experience is necessary as long as you’re upbeat and positive.”

Notes Across the Colleges

Each group has several non-music major members, allowing students opportunities to work with people they might not necessarily meet if not for a shared musical passion.

“Boomshacapella and the other groups are places to spend time with peers and students who feel passionate about music like yourself,” says Rebecca Hansen, president of the new co-ed a cappella group.

Singing on the Rise in Pop Culture

As a cappella enjoys a rise in popularity on college campuses across the nation in part due to shows like “The Sing-Off,” Ham is glad to see more students becoming interested in the genre.

“A cappella is like playing a guitar, but instead of six strings, you have six voices,” Ham says. ”You get unlimited possibilities with limited technology.” Check out the group's spring performance of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” with the UMass Lowell Dance Team

Boomshacapella, a co-ed spin-off of the all-male Hawkapella, already has several members working to arrange songs in the traditional style. The Gospel Choir’s skills and enthusiasm have earned them high-profile performances, including the recent inauguration (performance begins at 1:24:00) of new UMass president Robert Caret.

The UMass Lowell Glee Club had more than 90 students sign up for more information about the club at Family Day and now has 35 members practicing weekly.

“The group sounds so spectacular together,” Tello says. “You need to work together to blend and shape music, but it really creates something special.”

See the Students Sign

Each of the singing groups has been hard at work expanding and strengthening their repertoires for upcoming concerts. While Hawkapella and Boomshacapella practice for an all a cappella night on Nov. 17 with the Lowell-based Gentlemen Songsters, the Gospel Choir is practicing for a Dec. 10 concert and the Glee Club is working toward a December show as well. 

For more information, contact James Ham for Hawkapella, Rebecca Hansen for Boomshacapella, Fordeline Thermitus for the Gospel Choir and Ashley Tello for the Glee Club.