New a capella music group hits the right note

By Leo Melancon
October 3, 2019

Two seniors who share a love of a cappella music have founded a new singing group at Cabrini. September auditions held at Widener Lecture Hall expanded the original six-person planning group to 16 voices. The group, Chromatix, hopes to perform at upcoming Cabrini events.

Natalie Wharton and Lyndsey Guarino are friends who both have performed in a cappella ensembles before, and enjoy this type of music, which is basically singing without instrumental accompaniment. A cappella groups range from traditional harmonizers to more contemporary arrangements that include voice percussionists, or “beatboxers.”  Current examples of a cappella music include the popular Pentatonix and the “Pitch Perfect” movies.

Chromatix founders Lyndsey Guarino (Left) and Natalie Wharton (Right). Photo courtesy of Lyndsey Guarino.

 “I’ve done a couple a cappella pieces in high school and I really enjoyed the fact that we can make such a unique sound without any instruments,” Wharton said. 

Wharton and Guarino have been planning this group since they discovered their mutual love for a cappella

“It’s something that we both kind of mentioned and talked about throughout our entire college career,” Guarino said. “And we finally did it in our senior year.

Wharton, the group’s president, and Guarino, the vice president, worked with the Student Engagement and Leadership (SEaL) Office to navigate the process of forming a new student club. The founding six members had to come up with a constitution, elect officers, attend an information session and choose a faculty adviser. They chose adjunct professor of music Perry Brisbon, who teaches private voice lessons and leads the Cabrini chorus, as their adviser. 

“A lot of us [in] the original six have taken voice lessons with him and we know him pretty well,” Chromatix treasurer Matthew Santangelo said. “He also has access to the Widener lecture hall and the small vocal practice rooms. He has a lot of experience. He’s an excellent vocalist.”

The most important step came after the club’s structure was in place: recruiting vocal talent.

Santangelo, a junior communications major and theater minor, sat on the judging panel. About 15 people auditioned for the remaining 10 spots in the group.

The first poster advertising Chromatix, made for the Activity Fair. Over one dozen students auditioned and 10 became part of the group. Photo from the Chromatix Instagram page. 

“We weren’t expecting that many people in general, but also that many people who were that talented. There was one girl in particular [who] had a whole list of all the stuff she’s done in movies and in shows. . . she[even] linked to her IMDb page,” Santangelo said.

For those who auditioned but were not chosen, there is still hope.

“We have an alternate list. So if somebody were to drop out, people who auditioned who didn’t get in the group initially have the chance to be in it,” Wharton said.

Since three of the Chromatix members are seniors whose positions will need to be filled, students who missed out this year can start getting ready to audition next year.

Now that the voice performers have been chosen, Chromatix will meet at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesdays to choose and rehearse music, which will be mostly pop selections with a few traditional pieces mixed in.

Wharton and Guarino emphasize that their group will not resemble the Bellas of “Pitch Perfect,” at least not at the beginning.

“To begin, we want to focus more on the sound that we’re producing, but we hope that eventually it’ll really be more choreographed and fun little movements and things,” Wharton said.

“It’s a lot of fun, especially when you sound really good, whenever you put it together for the first time and it sounds great,” Guarino said.  “You get really excited, but it’s not as quick as it seems on screen.”

Although Chromatix does not have any performances scheduled yet, they hope to be ready to perform at the live Nativity in December.

For the founding friends, it took almost three years to make their dream of an a cappella group a reality, and they urge people to come to their performances to see what this unique type of music is all about.

You know, starting a new group can be rough. So all the support people are willing to give would be great. Even if it’s not your thing, it’s still a really awesome and unique [kind of music].

Leo Melancon

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