Though the group is still in its first year of performing, the University of Rhode Island’s a capella group, Rhody Rhapsodies, is already well on its way to harmonizing like professionals.
If you aren’t familiar with a capella, this form of singing involves voice talent and that alone. A capella is actually an Italian phrase for “in the manner of the church.” The Rhody Rhapsodies are broken up into five voice groups, from those with the highest sounding voices to those with the lowest sounding voices. These groups include soprano, mezzo, alto, tenor and bass. As of right now there are 25 singers in the group, which consists mostly of freshmen and sophomores. The group is managed by an executive board, like most recognized on campus groups. Along with the executive board, there are section leaders and singers who help lead sections during practice.
Renata Balasco, a soprano, and Patty Leach, a tenor, explained how a typical a capella song breaks down. The duo said, “[A song] starts with a verse, then features a soloist followed by the chorus, then [a second verse] followed by a another chorus then a bridge, which helps the transition to the next part of the song. Sometimes the song features a single soloist, other times it’s a two soloist collaboration.”
Rhody Rhapsodies meets every Monday and Thursday in the University’s Multicultural Center from 7 to 9 p.m. Usually three songs will be rehearsed during a practice unless the group is starting to prepare a new song.
Being a part of Rhody Rhapsodies has helped members to feel like they are part of the URI community in their own unique way. “Everyone in a campus group says it, but I have made some of my best friends in this group,” said Balasco. “It was the first group on campus that I’ve joined and it feels good to share the same goals and interests as other people.”
Leach, a member of the Society of Women Engineers uses Rhody Rhapsodies as an outlet for her busy life as a chemical engineer. “I met people I otherwise wouldn’t have met,” she said. “As a chemical engineer, it’s fun to be involved in something outside of engineering. None of us have professional training or anything, we just like to sing. Some [of us] are music minors and [others are] music education minors. Some are in choir too. It’s a fun, laid back group of diverse people and we’re always open to new members.”
If you are interested in joining, the audition process has two parts, tonal memory and a solo piece and then a group piece must be presented in order to see how well one sings with other people. However, anyone is welcome to come to their meetings, regardless of previous musical experience. The Rhody Rhapsodies will next be performing in the Memorial Union Ballroom on April 26 at 3 p.m.