A Brief RE-aCAPella

Photo courtesy of Anna Vdovenko

Photo courtesy of Anna Vdovenko

“Aca-excuse me, there is an acapella group at Loomis?”


We are back, pitches! If you still do not know about the Accapelicans…you have missed out. A group of musicians passionate about pizza, pop music and Pentatonix, the Accapelicans is the only student-run, co-ed a cappella group in Loomis history. Founded in 1992 by a faculty member, Narissa Nields, from the rock band the Nields, Accapelicans has grown into an 18-people music group which performs original arrangements of contemporary music using no instruments but human voices.


On April 23rd, the Accapelicans stepped out of the Island for the first time in three years and performed at Choate Rosemary Hall’s fundraiser, “Acapallooza,” earning thunders of applause for their voices, their “human pitch pipe,” cool beat boxer and Hawaiian outfits.


“A capella is life!” exclaims Aisosa Ede-Osifo ’16, one of the co-leaders of Acapelicans this year. Speaking from her experience, Aisosa laughs that she regretted having missed the audition date in her sophomore year. “The Accapelicans is a part of the LC history, and being a part of it is really cool. Plus, what’s more fun than music with your voices?” reflects Aisosa.


In fact, acapella music has quite an interesting history on the Island. Back in the 50’s, the all-males group Pelicans invigorated the campus with its enthusiasm for both music and devotion.


Mr. Henry Van Vleck ’51, who was a part of the Pelicans when he went to Loomis, recalled that the group of 8 singers would perform at various occasions and would sing no more than eight songs one time. “We all enjoyed singing, and it brought us together,” recounted Mr. Van Vleck. He also expressed much appreciation for Mr. Carr, who was the faculty director of both the Pelicans and the glee club at the time, and for the annual performance that the glee club put on with Hotchkiss, Deerfield and Choate at the Bushnell in Hartford.


Besides performing with other schools’ A Capella groups, Mr. Van Vleck also recalled that the Pelicans would sing for older people to “bring a little lightness into their lives.” Emphasizing the power of music to connect others and the importance of giving back to the community, Van Vleck highlighted that singing for the seniors “was a nice reach out for Loomis in those days.”


James Rugen ’70, our beloved music teacher, also sang in Pelicans when he went to Loomis. Unlike Mr. Van Vleck, Mr. Rugen describes the Pelicans in the late 60s as “not a very serious or organized group,” and recalls that the group assembled “very occasionally” and had no more than a couple performances. Attributing the waning influence of the group to the lack of faculty guidance, Mr. Rugen believes that the Pelicans of his time “were affected by enormous shifts in American youth culture brought on by American involvement in the War in Vietnam,” so that jazz music in the 40s and 50s no longer seemed popular. “With more guidance and good arrangements, we could have done better with Simon & Garfunkel, the Beatles, Joan Baez, etc.” laments Mr. Rugen, thoughtfully.


Long gone from the good old days of the all-males singing group, the Accapelicans today consist of a group of diverse singers from both genders, each of whom adds an unique texture to the sound. We have girls who can hit notes as high as those of Mariah Carey (aka. Alexa Kim ’18) varsity lacrosse athletes, hockey players who carry combs around, swimmers, student council representatives, and a precious beatboxer who can sing and beatbox at the same time. What sets the Acapelicans apart from any other A Capella group is also its human pitch pipe, Josh Ryu ’18. “Josh is a pitch perfect tenor and bass who we push around everywhere but who’s always so dedicated to the group,” chuckled Aisosa.


As Mr. Van Vleck said, he “enjoyed singing at Loomis, and still loves music. If you enjoy something like singing, join a group!” If you like music and would like to become a part of the aca-family, audition next fall, or audition for the Musical Revue, which is another amazing music group on campus! This year, carrying forward Loomis’ tradition of community outreach, the Accapelicans will perform for seniors at Kindred Healthcare on May 22nd and host a final spring concert.


We are excited to see you at our spring concert on May 22nd, 7:00pm at the chapel!