Ellen Hu ’24 and Alyssa Wend ’24
The a cappella groups of the 5Cs joined together on Nov. 6 to show off their vocals and semester-long work in a performance at Pomona’s Sontag Theater. Held outdoors under dimmed stage lights, the event drew a large audience, with students from all of the undergraduate Claremont Colleges crowded in the space to watch.
This event, known as Fallcapella, was arranged in place of the annual SCAMfest due to the regular events’ last-minute cancellation from COVID-19 safety concerns. SCAMfest is a large on-campus a cappella event held at Pomona where groups from the 5Cs as well as nearby universities come together to perform, complete with their own choreography. In the past, a cappella groups from schools including USC and UCLA have also attended.
As soon as SCAMfest was cancelled, Claremont Shades member Jay Scott PO ’21 started planning Fallcapella to replace it. Due to the outdoor nature of the concert, the COVID-19 logistics were considered “a lot easier to organize COVID-wise,” Scott said.
While Fallcapella was not as large as SCAMfest, a cappella members across the 5Cs were very excited for the opportunity to share their work. “It’s been a busy few months and we haven’t really interacted with the other groups since auditions, so to see where they are now will be a cool experience,” Mood Swing Music Director Jay Pier PO ’21 said.
“I think it was also nice because the groups have been working really, really hard this fall on the repertoire,” Scott said. “So it was just nice to have somewhere to perform those songs they’ve been working so hard on.”
For some groups, song selection carried over from previous years that had been cut short due to COVID-19 restrictions and shut-downs. “Because of the nature of this semester, we actually chose songs that we were going to sing for the spring semester of 2020, so before COVID,” Pier said. “We are singing ‘Wave’ by Megan Trainor and ‘Breakeven’.”
Fallcapella differed from Scamfest in size and type of performance. With a smaller event space, fewer audience members were expected. Additionally, while the groups usually choreograph their songs, many did not for this semester’s event.
“We decided not to use the choreography because, one, it’s a little less of a tradition to have it in a new place, and also without a microphone it didn’t make sense to have the choreography,” Pier said.
However, while the organizers and performers did not expect to have very many people attend, they received what Scott described as a “huge turnout.” Audience members poured over the seats and across the grass.
“I was just surprised by the sheer number of people who came,” Scott said. “It was super encouraging and definitely fun for all of the performers to know that everyone was out to see them.”
Not only was there a large turnout, the crowd was incredibly lively, cheering loudly for their friends and during impressive moments of the show. This energy transferred to the performers, and even with the lack of practiced choreo, some dancing broke out in the middle of their sets.
One of the standout performances was from the Ninth Street Hooligans, known for their comedic twists. “While groups didn’t really do choreography, The Hooligans did a fun little skit,” Scott said.
Some last-minute technical issues arose due to the outdoor space: the lack of hand-held microphones or the ability to do sound checks before each performance. Nonetheless, the a cappella groups quickly adapted to their new circumstances.
Making sure that a place for the Claremont College a cappella groups to gather, share their work, and build community was very important for Scott. “I’m a senior, but when I joined freshman year, my members of my group were some of my first friends on campus,” they said. Participating in the a cappella community on campus also played a large role in helping them make friends across the other Claremont Colleges.
While the event was not the original a cappella show that was expected at the beginning of the semester, hope for SCAMfest to be held in the Spring of 2022 was given in an announcement at Fallcapella.
Image Source: Ninth Street Hooligans