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Princeton a cappella returns to campus after a two-year hiatus

<h5>The Tigertones perform at a 1879 Hall arch sing this month.&nbsp;</h5>
<h6>Cathleen Weng / The Daily Princetonian</h6>
The Tigertones perform at a 1879 Hall arch sing this month. 
Cathleen Weng / The Daily Princetonian

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Princeton’s a cappella groups couldn’t rehearse or perform together in-person and struggled to admit new members. After nearly two years, Blair Arch and 1879 Arch are once again being filled by their voices, old and new.

From Sept. 9–13, students auditioned for 10 of the University’s a cappella groups: the Footnotes, the Katzenjammers, the Nassoons, Old NasSoul, Roaring 20, Shere Khan, the Tigerlilies, the Tigertones, the Tigressions, and the Wildcats. Students could perform an initial audition for up to five groups within Acaprez, a collection of eight of the groups. Then, those offered callbacks had a chance to sing with the groups to see how they fit in. Students who received multiple offers could choose up to two Acaprez groups to attend callbacks for. The night after callbacks, auditionees found out whether they’d been admitted into a group.

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“My favorite part was meeting the members and the presidents,” said Amelia Kauffmann ’24, a new member of the Tigressions. 

Kauffman’s decision to join the Tigressions was helped along by meeting the whole group during callbacks. 

“It gave me a sense of what the vibe of the group was and what the people were like and how they interacted with each other,” she noted.

The Fall 2021 auditions were especially important for a cappella groups. With activities suspended since the 2020 spring semester, most groups were down from their normal sizes and looking to fill more empty positions than usual.

Roaring 20 took three new members, hoping to round out the group to normal size during spring auditions according to group president David Jensen ’22.

“While three might not sound like a lot, their addition has made an immense effect on filling out our group sound in voice parts that have recently been stretched thin,” he noted.

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Another factor in the audition process this semester was the inflated number of people auditioning, making the process more competitive than usual.

“We were expecting high turnout and we really saw it — I think we had nearly double as many auditionees this year compared to two years ago,” said Mark Dodici ’22, president of the Tigertones, in an email. 

Dodici is the Multimedia Liaison for the ‘Prince.’

According to Dodici, every auditionee the Tones selected also received offers from another group — “which is crazy.”

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“Usually maybe half of our bids will be double-bids,” he wrote. “That rate being so high for all the groups this semester was really just a testament to the talent of the people who auditioned and the excitement of all the groups to get new folks in after a long time off.”

Now that auditions are over and a cappella groups are once again having in-person rehearsals and performances, group members are optimistic about the upcoming year.

“I would say that we at Old NasSoul are feeling great,” wrote Gideon McFarland ’22, president of Old NasSoul, in an email to the ‘Prince.’ “I think the group finally has a healthy number of members, all of whom are excited about singing this semester. 

McFarland noted that while Old NasSoul lost a lot during the pandemic, the time away gave the group space to evaluate itself and think intentionally about how to move forward.

“I think it'll be a great year of new music and exciting performances and we can't wait to share it all with the campus community,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, new members are settling into rehearsals and getting better acquainted with their groups.

“It isn’t hard at all to integrate yourself into a group, especially when the people in the group are as kind and welcoming and want to get to know you [as much] as the people in the Tigertones are,” said Jack Amen ’25.

“I just had a great time getting to know them and going on tour over fall break was such a great experience,” Amen added. “It’s fun to get to learn such a wide variety of new music.”

The next round of a cappella auditions will be held in Spring 2022, so any students who are not currently participating in a cappella but are interested will have a chance to audition then. 

Casey Beidel ’24, a new member of the Nassoons, advises that anyone considering should audition. 

“Literally just do it,” Beidel said. “They are so friendly and welcoming, and there are people who have never sung in an a cappella group before, so it really is accessible.”

Cathleen Weng is a senior writer for The Prospect who often covers music and culture. She can be reached at cweng@princeton.edu or on Twitter and Instagram at @cathleenweng.

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