The Collegian
Thursday, August 06, 2020

Rockapella brings holiday spirit to UR

The a cappella group Rockapella will bring the sounds of the holidays to campus for the third year in a row next month.

"A Rockapella Holiday" will be held at the University of Richmond's Camp Concert Hall on Dec. 5.

Rockapella was started by Brown University students in the late 1980s, and first began performing publicly after an appearance on a PBS special, which led to the group recording the theme song for the popular show "Where in the World is Carmen San Diego?"

The group has had many notable appearances during the past few years, including performances in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, on NBC's Today Show and at Radio City Music Hall. The five-man group has released seven albums in North America since their debut; two were holiday albums.

The group has had many members over the years but is now made up of Scott Leonard, a high tenor; Kevin Wright, a tenor; John Brown, a baritone, George Baldi, a bass, and Jeff Thacher, a vocal percussionist. Together, they are known for their unique approach to a cappella music, and impressive live performances.

"They've been known for a long time to bring an impossible vibe to live performance," said sophomore Eric Rudofker. Rudofker, the music director for the Octaves, an a cappella group on campus, said he had been a fan of Rockapella for some time.

"When I first heard about a cappella music, Rockapella was the group," Rudofker said.

Leonard said he thought the holiday show was an opportunity for the group to set itself apart.

"We take original approaches to all the holiday favorites," Leonard said. "We made the effort to add the harder edge our shows normally have, but it's still got the warm and tender nostalgia of holiday music."

The music in the show will not only be Christmas music, Leonard said. Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa songs will all be included, and Leonard said the group's repertoire of holiday songs had become so extensive that the songs chosen for each performance may be changed based on the mood of the crowd. During past holiday shows, the group has performed different types of holiday music, from classics such as "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," to humorous songs such as the Chipmunk's Christmas song, as well as its own original songs such as "Snow Star."

But Rockapella's shows are not just about music, said senior Abby Cohen, who saw the group perform at Richmond in the fall of 2005.

"There were a lot of people there and it was really fun," Cohen said. "They sang but there was also a lot of funny crowd interaction."

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Freshman Geoffrey Weathersby, another member of the Octaves, said he had been listening to the group since a member of his high school a cappella group gave him a Rockapella CD. In addition to their CDs, Weathersby said that he enjoyed the group's music that had appeared on commercials for Folgers Coffee and Coca-Cola. Weathersby said he was looking forward to the show, as it would be his first time seeing a live performance.

"I was really excited when I found out they were coming to campus," Weathersby said.

In addition to seeing the group in person, Weathersby and Rudofker both said that as performers themselves they looked forward to learning from the show.

"I think it's really great," Rudofker said, "especially for those involved with a cappella. It inspires us to work hard. Being in the audience opens you up to different possibilities."

Rockapella will perform two shows on Dec. 5, at 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $38 for adults, $36 for seniors, $19 for children 12 and under, $30 for employees and $8 for students.

Contact writer Kate Foss at kate.foss@richmond.edu

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