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A Capella Profile: Chris Fernandez ’18 of Sons of Pitches

February 11th, 2016 by arouel16


Group: Sons of Pitches


Members: Robbie Amesbury ’16, Brian Ott ’16, Pat O’Konis ’16, Quinn McGee ’16, Brian Nasto ’17, Charlie Schufreider ’17, Alec Davis ’17, Derek Kunz ’17, Christopher Fernandez ’18, Dalton Weir ’18, Nate Donahue ’19, Joe Portch ’19, Hawar Haddadi ’19, and Michael Lyons ’19

Tell us a little bit about yourself, Chris.

I’m from West Hartford CT and a sophomore. I joined Sons my freshman year on a whim. I had no intention of joining an a capella group, but was persuaded by Pat O’Konis to audition at the co-curricular extravaganza. He told me “The worst thing that can happen is you have the best time of your life” and that claim has held true.

Who are Sons of Pitches and what is your ensemble all about?

Sons is one of the all-male a capella groups here at Holy Cross. We perform a long list of songs that ranges from the Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows” to MKTO’S “Bad Girls.” The primary goal of Sons is to brighten peoples’ day with a song or two. Our aim is to put a smile on everyone’s face who attends our performances.

What do you love most about singing in Sons of Pitches?

What I love most about singing in Sons of Pitches is that no matter how challenging my day has been I can go to rehearsal and just let everything go. During rehearsal I get to relax, and for those few hours a week I don’t have a care in the world because I am surrounded by my friends while making some amazing music.

What’s it like being a part of the a capella community on campus?

Holy Cross has a very large a capella community for a school our size. I think that it’s great to be a part of such a thriving community. Each group on campus is unique; we all bring something different to the table. The diversity amongst the groups allows for us to learn new things based off of what the other groups are doing.

What’s your favorite song to perform and why?

My favorite song to sing with Sons is “Bad Girls” by MKTO. This song allows the full potential of Sons to be unleashed. It provides us with the opportunity to be the goofballs that we all are. Another reason why I enjoy this song is the arrangement itself. Our musical director Brian Nasto does a great job creating arrangements, and his arrangements of “Bad Girls” contains intricate lines that are fun to sing and interesting to listen to.

If you could describe Sons of Pitches in three words, what would those be and why? 

If I had to describe Sons in three words it would have to be: goofy, talented, and family. Sons’ primary goal is to perform to the best of our ability while putting a smile on everyone’s face, and we believe the best way to do so is by unleashing our inner goofball. Although Sons is an a capella group, more than anything it’s a family.

Upcoming Performances: Every Sunday @ 10:10pm in CoolBeans

-Chris Fernandez ’18

A Capella Profile: Lauren Clair ’16 of The Delilahs

January 29th, 2016 by arouel16

Group: The Delilahs


Members: Lauren Clair ‘16, Natasha Meyer ‘16, Emma Linsenmeyer ‘16, Betsy Glynn ‘16, Amanda Gibson ‘17, Emily Smith ‘17, Erin Sullivan ‘18, Eve Wenger ‘18, Isabel Block ‘19, Olivia Merritt ‘18, Megan Nemeth ‘18, Natalie Welsch ‘17

Tell us a little bit about yourself, Lauren.

I’m currently a senior  working on a major in math with a minor in education. I am also in the Teacher Education Program and will be student teaching high school math full time in Worcester this semester! Besides being involved in the Delilah’s, I am the co-chair of the Purple Key Society and I am a teacher’s assistant for Calculus. I became a part of the Delilah’s in the Fall of my freshman year. I overheard the group singing “No Scrubs” in Cool Beans and instantly was drawn to the group! All the members were so fun, sweet, and talented- but they also had a lot of sass and confidence- which I loved! I auditioned for the group the following week and have been a part ever since! I could not imagine my time at HC without the Delilahs.

Who are The Delilahs and what is your ensemble all about?

Founded in 1993, The Delilahs are The College of the Holy Cross’ oldest, all female a capella group. We love performing and sharing our talents with others! Our musical selections range from Delilahs’ classics- such as the Irish Blessing- to current hits like Adele’s Hello. We pretty much are down to sing whatever, as long as we can add our own Delilahs’ flare to it! You can find us around campus by looking for the “Ladies in Black”. It has been a Delilah’s tradition to wear black with pink accents for every performance and we love keeping the tradition going.

What do you love most about singing in The Delilahs?

The other girls in the group. It’s honestly impossible to describe the bond you make with the Delilah members unless you experience it for yourself. The 11 other girls are my home away from home. It is extremely reassuring to know no matter what you always have a group of people on campus who support you and love you for who you are, and when you fall down- are always there to pick you up! I always have so much fun whenever I am with the Delilahs- both inside and outside of rehearsal, and some of my best memories of college have been with these girls.

What’s it like being a part of the an a Capella community on campus?

Amazing! Each group on campus is so supportive of the other groups and willing to collaborate and help each other out! I have made so many friends just by having an a-capella connection. Plus, you always know that other members of groups will join you in a random sing-along without hesitation!

What’s your favorite song to perform and why?

That is such a tough question to answer! But I would have to go with the Irish Blessing. The Delilah’s have always ended every performance with this song, so it’s extremely sentimental and meaningful to all of us. Plus, it is absolutely beautiful- and no matter how many times we sing it, I always get goose bumps!

If you could describe The Delilahs in three words, what would those be and why? 

Fun, Flirty, and Fabulous! And as for the why- come to a performance and see for yourself!!

Upcoming Performances: Every Monday at 10 p.m. in Cool Beans (“Manic Mondays”)

Chicago: A Director’s Perspective

January 28th, 2016 by arouel16

I’m writing this post on a lazy Sunday. I’m sitting in my favorite chair, wearing my favorite sweater, sipping tea and watching silly movies. It’s the end of winter break; tomorrow, I9143_433957450128250_1698088693140321200_n return to rehearsals with the cast of ACT’s Chicago. We are entering into our last three weeks before the show goes up, and after weeks of preparation and planning, I’m getting my head ready for long hours of intense, detailed work.

I’m also really, really scared.

Directing shows as a student at Holy Cross was the most important part of my education, hands down. The first piece I ever directed was a fifteen-minute original project for Ed Isser’s class. Seeing the piece performed, I felt an incredible rush of joy, satisfaction and pride. I had heard for years in Catholic schools about the concept of a vocation; watching my work come to life that first time, I felt that I had found mine.

The weeks leading up to that performance, however, were full of stress, anxiety, tears, self-doubt, coffee, and carbohydrates. And a lot of fear. I was afraid that the piece I had created, this deeply personal work, would be judged and dismissed by my audience. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to help my actors to perform their roles fully and successfully. I was afraid that what I had made would not be good enough.

Since graduating from Holy Cross in 2013, I’ve continued working in theatre. I’ve directed and assistant directed, worked backstage and at the front of house. Every time I begin a new creative project, a part of me wonders if the fear I felt directing that first piece will ever go away. It hasn’t. Every new piece feels the same, no matter how many times I’ve gone through it. I’ve never gotten used to it.

Even though it’s hard to remember when I’m in the thick of rehearsal, I’m really grateful to still feel that fear every time. It signals to me that what I’m doing is important to me in a personal way. It drives me through the challenging parts of rehearsal. It motivates me to do everything I possibly can to make a successful show. If directing Chicago felt comfortable and easy, it would mean that I was taking no risks, making no hard choices. It doesn’t—it feels huge and intimidating and essential.

I have a lot of high hopes for this production. I hope that the audience is charmed by Chicago’s humor, thrilled by its musical numbers, and pricked by its social criticism. But most of all, I hope that my cast, designers, and crew all feel a little bit of this deep, driving fear, and a whole bunch of creative discomfort. I’ve been through this process enough times now to know that the joy waiting on the other side of opening night makes it all worthwhile. – Christine Freije ’13

Alternate College Theatre’s production of Chicago runs  Feb. 4-6 at 8 p.m., and Feb. 6-7 at 2 p.m.  Tickets are $10 for members of the Holy Cross community, $15 for the general public, and can be reserved by calling the ACT box office at 508-793-3536. Learn more about the production here.

A Capella Profile: Carley Buckley ’18 of Fools on the Hill

December 11th, 2015 by arouel16

Group: Fools on the Hill


Members: Angelo DeNofrio ’16 Francie Sullivan ’16 Kelly Clarke ’16 Jacqueline Bashaw ’17 Juliana Brandao ’17 Andrew Truong ’17 Michael Sixsmith ’17 Carley Buckley ’18 Katie Santaniello ’18 Caroline Legare ’18 Kelman Ramirez ’18 Julia Palmerino ’18 Katrina Black ’18 Tyler MacDonald ’18 Tom Petito ’18 Joe Egan ’19 John Dube ’19 James Falconer ’19 Lauren Carey ’19 Elizabeth Murphy ’19

Tell us a little bit about yourself, Carley.

I am sophomore English and Music double major and this is my second year in Fools. I’ve been involved with a cappella music since I was a freshman in high school. I knew I wanted to continue singing a cappella but with the variety of a cappella groups on campus, I wasn’t sure which group I wanted to audition for or if I would even make the cut. It wasn’t until my friend and fellow Fool, Juliana Brandao approached me after choir rehearsal and convinced me to audition. Even from that first audition, everyone in the group was so warm and welcoming. I loved being in Fools on the Hill last year and this group really helped me transition into college even more.

What is Fools on the Hill? And what is your ensemble all about?

Well, we definitely live up to our name. This group consists of some of the funniest and craziest people I’ve ever met. As much fun as we all like to have fun, our main focus is the music and making sure we are prepared for every performance. Our fantastic arranger, Katie Santaniello, creates these amazing arrangements each week and we want to be able to perform these songs and feature each soloist to the best of our ability. Trying to find the balance of having fun and still being productive can be difficult at times but when we do achieve that goal, we are all extremely proud of the final product.

What do you love most about singing in Fools?

I love being able to sing and perform with some of my best friends on campus! We’ve created such a close bond so quickly that it’s fun to share the stage with them. It’s also a nice break from the normal stresses of classes and homework twice a week. On top of that, these people push me to be a better musician and performer. Even the new members are extremely talented and everyone supports one another to sing and perform to the best of their abilities. It’s really exciting to be in a group with such a variety of singers in the group. We have such a range of voices that anyone one of us could perform a solo yet at the same time we are able to blend and be part of the background. That’s really exciting!

What’s it like being a part of the a capella community on campus?

There is a certain bond between individuals and the groups on campus due to a common interest in this specific genre of music. It is amazing what the human voice is capable of doing such as mimicking the sounds of instruments. It also creates a trust among the members of each group. Each member is responsible for learning, memorizing, and perfecting their part and they have to trust their fellow members to do the same. If they don’t, then the arrangement falls apart. Because there are five groups on campus, there is always some friendly competition of who’s the funniest, who’s the most energetic, who has the best arrangements, etc. However, at the end of the day, all the groups really do support each other.

What’s your favorite song to perform and why?

We’ve covered many artists from Lady Gaga to The Killers, but my favorite song to perform this year is definitely “I See Fire” by  Ed Sheeran. The arrangement is absolutely beautiful and Caroline Legare (the soloist) sounds amazing on it (check it out below!) Not only are our notes, rhythm, and overall techniques right, but the dynamics, swells, and little nuances that are added on top of that really make this song electric. I’m always so excited to perform this song!

If you could describe Fools in three words, what would those be and why?  

Foolish, vibrant, creative. Foolish because we are a crazy group of people who do and say the most outrageous things. It makes for very entertaining rehearsals. I would also describe this group as vibrant. Fools on the Hill is a very diverse group made up of very different types of personalities and different types of voices. With this wide range of voices we are able to cover many different songs and genres and we able to add color and a different sound to each arrangement. Which is why I would also say that we are creative. As I mentioned before, Katie does an amazing job arranging songs for us each week. However, we also like to come up with some choreography and dance moves to do at Cool Beans just to have more fun while performing!

Upcoming Performances

  • Guest performance at A Cappella Go! Concert at Needham High School on January 23
  • Every Thursday at 10:10 pm at Cool Beans

Check out Fools on the Hill performing “I See Fire” by Ed Sheeran, solo Caroline Legare ’18:

A Capella Profile: Alyssa White ’18 of Off the Record

December 4th, 2015 by arouel16

Group: Off the Record


Members: Julia Baker ’17, Katelyn Lyons ’18, Catherine Cote ’18, Alyssa White ’18, Casey Fang ’18, Tess Andrekus ’18, Caroline Body ’19, Sara Reimer ’19, Devyn McHugh ’19, Lizzie Flynn ’19, Sarah Carnwath ’19, Ella Cappabianca ’19, and Emali Khalyat ’19.

What is Off the Record?

“Off the Record is one of the newer all female a cappella groups on campus. As a group we are unique, positive, and energetic. Our members love having fun, both behind the scenes and when we are performing!”

Tell us a little bit about yourself. How long have you been a part of this ensemble, how did you initially become involved?

“I am a sophomore and I am studying to be an English teacher. I am an active participant in the theatre department at Holy Cross and have been singing since the fifth grade. I joined Off the Record the second semester of my first year. A friend of mine, a current member, encouraged me to audition —she caught me brushing my teeth in the bathroom and told me to look out for an email from the a cappella group. The rest of course is history.”

What do you love most about singing in Off the Record?

“There are so many reasons why I love singing in Off the Record. I especially love all of the members of this group, the young women who I have the pleasure of singing with every week are what really makes this group special. Everyone in the group is different, has such vibrant personalities and shines individually —when put together we create something amazing.”

What is it like being a part of the a cappella community on campus?

“It is honestly so much fun! All of the groups on campus are incredibly talented, but also so different. We each have a sound that is unique to our own. I love when we have the opportunity to perform together, most recently during the annual family weekend a cappella concert —I loved hearing the other groups sing, it is a reminder of just how many talented people we have on campus.”

What is your favorite song to perform and why?

“I really enjoy singing my solo, “Lay Me Down” by Sam Smith. It was my first official solo since being a part of the group and it felt amazing to be able to do so in front of large groups of people. I received a lot of positive feedback afterwards and it makes me happy that people enjoyed listening to it. It is also a song that has a level of personal meaning to me, so it felt especially good to sing it.”

If you could describe Off the Record in three words, what would those be and why? 


Upcoming Performances:

  • Every Tuesday at 9:40 pm in Coolbeans!
  • We will also be featured in the a cappella battle later this winter

The Underpants: A Theatrical Adventure

December 4th, 2015 by arouel16

“This is not serious method acting.  Do you get that, guys?  I mean, Steve Martin wrote this. You allThe Underpants need to have infinitely more fun.”

That was the note given to us by Professor Edward Isser after he watched a rehearsal of The Underpants shortly before ThanksgivingLuckily, we still had two weeks before opening night to find our fun, and Savannah Plante ‘16 (our director) has squeezed the funny out of us.  As I write this backstage before our final dress rehearsal, Professor Isser’s comment sums up the show perfectly.

Steve Martin, for so many of us, is a staple of our childhood: Father of the Bride, The Pink Panther, Cheaper by the Dozen, Saturday Night Live… I can think of so many family movie nights where Steve Martin left me in stitches.  I have always had a kind of weird attachment to the man: my father bares an uncanny resemblance to Steve (or at least he did – Steve seems to have gotten younger and my dad…well…), my favorite movie is Father of the Bride, and now I get to act in a play he wrote.  How excellent is that?  This show is vintage Steve Martin comedy.  It’s chock-full of zany characters, ridiculous turns-of-phrase, and plenty of high and low comedy.  It never takes itself too seriously and the script is delightful to play with as a performer.  For the audience, I can’t think of a more pleasant way to spend an hour and a half during a stress-crazed exam crunch.

As someone whose time at Holy Cross is rapidly coming to a close, I sometimes consider some of my best moments at Holy Cross (only sometimes, I promise – I’m not that crazy).  So many of these are Friday and Saturday nights on Fenwick Stage with a bright stage and a laughing audience. I’m excited to add this show to my Rolodex.  If the audience has a fraction of the fun that we have on stage, it’s going to be a really special set of performances.

The cast and crew has been working hard rehearsing, sewing underwear, hanging lights, grilling sausages, building sets and painting portraits of fake German Kaisers.  If you have a free hour or two, come check us out.  Let us do the thinking for once, just sit back and enjoy.

– Erik Schneider ’16

The Underpants is directed by Savannah Plante ’16 and runs December 3, 4, and 5 at 8:00pm and December 5 and 6 at 2:00pm in the Fenwick Theatre. $7 for the HC Community, $10 General Admission.

Student Interview: Joseph Canedo ’16, jazz ensemble

November 19th, 2015 by arouel16

Name: Joseph Canedo ’16

Hometown: Leominster, MA

Areas of Study: Music and Math Double Major

How long have you been a member of the jazz ensemble?

“I have been a member of the Holy Cross jazz ensemble as a tenor sax and soprano sax player since my freshman year. Before Holy Cross, I played in my high school’s intensive jazz ensemble, performing thirty to forty times per year. Playing in high school really developed my passion for jazz, joining the College’s ensemble was therefore an obvious choice.”

 What has your experience in the jazz ensemble been like?

“From the people to the performances my time in the Holy Cross jazz ensemble has been an exceptional experience. Mike Monaghan is a fantastic teacher, he sets a high standard of performance in the ensemble while maintaining a lighthearted atmosphere in rehearsal. The music is fun to play while also challenging my skills as a performer. Performing music I enjoy with fellow students has also been a stress relief from classes.”

What can we expect from the jazz ensemble this winter?

“We have a wide range of music lined up for the annual winter concert ranging from a tribute to Duke Ellington to a modern jazz funk chart, a jazz combo piece to a guest artist performing a piece with the ensemble. The concert will give the attendees a chance to hear a wide sampling of the many styles collectively known as Jazz.”

When is the annual winter concert?

The annual winter concert will be on Thursday, November 19 at 8:00 pm in Brooks Concert Hall.

A Bold Undertaking for the Holy Cross Chamber Singers

November 18th, 2015 by arouel16

The Holy Cross Chamber Singers, under the direction of conductor David Harris, have always sought to explore new musical territory; from performing original compositions to employing the latest techniques in vocal science. But this week, the Chamber Singers will take on a grand endeavor never previously attempted by the ensemble: an entire evening of staged opera scenes, arias, duets, and choruses. The key word here is staged. Unlike a traditional choral concert, the singers won’t be standing in uniform rows; instead, the Chamber Singers will be moving about Brooks Concert Hall, interacting with each other and using their acting skills in an interwoven plot.

“Even in some of the top choirs in the nation, choral singers have a tendency to hide behind their music folders and let the conductor be their puppeteer” says Laurel Mehaffey, resident vocologist for the Holy Cross Choirs. According to Mehaffey, who helped stage the concert, this unique experience has empowered the Chamber Singers to learn how to communicate in new ways. The Chamber Singers have had to develop their own characters and dive into the foreign language of their pieces to understand what their characters are striving to communicate. “It was amazing to see what each person’s creativity came up with,” says Mehaffey. “For many students, it was their first time thinking about building a character.”

Over the past three months, the Chamber Singers have worked tirelessly to hone their acting techniques  – a step outside many of the singers’ comfort zones. “We, the singers, have been the authors of this work” explains Teresa Murphy ’19, mezzo-soprano.  For Teresa, she had “always been much more comfortable with singing than acting,” but the “process of creating each singers’ role” was very rewarding. By the end of rehearsals, all of the singers learned how to explore the dynamic relationship between theatricality and music.

The concert, entitled Love and the Fyer, will be a tour de force of drama and music, featuring a diverse selection of operatic works from Carmen and Marriage of Figaro to choral works by Brahms and Morley. Each song will be bound together by a blissful plot filled with a healthy dose of drama and romance. For conductor David Harris and vocologist Laurel Mehaffey, the hope is that by the end of the concert, the audience will understand that “every song, written for a choir or opera, tells a story.”

-Adam Ouellet ‘16

Love and Fyer will take place in Brooks Concert Hall on Friday, November 20, 2015 at 8pm. Admission is free and open to the public. For more updates and information about the Holy Cross Choirs, check out the choir blog.


SWARM: Embrace the Discomfort

November 6th, 2015 by arouel16

My name is Ali Cristovich ’18 and I’ve been involved in theatre at Holy Cross since performing in last fall’s production of “Cloud Nine.” I love exploring new genres and performance techniques, so when I heard about SWARM and the kind of work it entailed I was really excited. While others were hesitant to audition because of the unknown, I was only intrigued.

What has it been like preparing for this performance?

I have to be honest, SWARM is unlike anything I could have ever anticipated.  Rehearsals require not only a great time commitment, but also a great deal of focus and concentration. There is no waiting backstage for your turn to hit the stage, you are constantly on your toes (sometimes on skates) and always present to the audience. It’s a much different experience than what I’m used to as an actor, but the end result is fantastic – as you will see soon.

Can you tell us about the audience participation for the show?

I could tell you, but there isn’t much to say, we haven’t had a full audience to work with yet. We’ve had rehearsals with small test audiences, including the CreateLab class to anticipate the reaction with our first real audience on Wednesday. Each time we take the stage in front of a new audience will make each performance even more unpredictable.  We are just as curious as you are to see what will happen.

Tell us what it’s been like working with Troika Ranch.

Dawn and Mark – the co-founders of Troika Ranch – have been a joy to work with.  Mark has an incredible knack for music and special effects, and Dawn never fails to lighten the mood while still keeping us focused on the piece.  I think the best part about working with them is that all of us in the cast have contributed to the making of SWARM: if we felt something could be improved or changed to enhance the experience for everyone, we were able to suggest an idea and test it during rehearsal.  It’s a lot different from a typical theatre production where only the director has that kind of power.  SWARM is just as much our show as it is Dawn and Mark’s.

If you could describe Swarm in one word, what would that be?

Discomfort. We, actors and audience members alike, have all felt it. However, the real beauty of this piece shines when we embrace the awkwardness and confusion and explore new possibilities we might not find inside our comfort zones. SWARM is an invitation to take that step: what you do with it is up to you.

-Alison Cristovich ’18

Members of Troika Ranch, Mark Coniglio and Dawn Stoppiello display their art.  Both are working with CreateLab

Members of Troika Ranch, Mark Coniglio and Dawn Stoppiello display their art. Both are working with CreateLab

SWARM runs from Nov. 5-7 and Nov. 12-14 at the Fenwick Theatre. Click here to purchase tickets and learn more about this exciting performance.

Hear Grammy Award-Winning Artist Perform Live at Holy Cross

November 4th, 2015 by arouel16
Emma Kuper '18

Emma Kuper ’18

Fall is a busy time for us all, between getting used to new clubs and extra-curriculars, studying for midterms and other assignments, not to mention all of the social events like Parents Weekend, Halloween, and Thanksgiving activities! It may seem overwhelming to be sifting through the countless invitations that are sent out to the student body every day, trying to decide which events align with our interests and will be worth our time.

I’m writing this today to let everyone know about an event that you truly will not want to miss. I know we hear that all the time, but it is not all the time that a musical group whose album received a Grammy award performs for free right on campus. This performance is in conjunction with the “Katrina Then and Now: Artists as a Witness” exhibit that is on display right now at the Cantor Art Gallery.  If you haven’t visited yet, I would highly recommend checking it out; it is a very insightful way of exploring the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

With or without the visit to the gallery, however, this musical performance offers great insight into the same theme of Hurricane Katrina. On Sunday, November 8, at 3 PM in Brooks Concert Hall, and accompanied by a chamber orchestra, the Terence Blanchard Quintet will perform “A Tale of God’s Will: A Requiem for Katrina.” This composition was written by Blanchard and the other members of his quintet as a look back upon the tragedy in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Trumpet,  piano, bass, drums, and strings combine to echo the sounds of the forces of the storm. Other sections of the composition allude to hurricanes that came before Katrina, while others offer a hopeful glimpse into the future. Finally the piece concludes with a tribute to Blanchard’s mother, who lost her home in this tragedy. The composition received a Grammy in 2008, and the album was on the billboard for top jazz albums, reaching #6.

Not only is this concert a wonderful opportunity to simply experience the sheer musical talent of these performers, the message that they bring is also important to all of us. Especially as students who were probably too young in 2005 to remember Hurricane Katrina very clearly and to understand it fully, this concert offers a chance to feel the emotions and empathize with the people and culture that were devastated by this storm.

Stay posted for more news, and on behalf of the Arts Transcending Borders team, we can’t wait to see you at the concert! – Emma Kuper ’18

Learn more about the upcoming events on campus through Arts Transcending Borders: