The Claremont Colleges are home to eight different a cappella groups, and on Nov. 22 at the 18th annual Southern California A Cappella Music Festival (SCAMFest), they will have the opportunity to showcase their hard work in a formal venue.
Along with the Claremont-based a cappella groups, four outside groups are invited to perform in SCAMFest. This year, SoCal Vocal and The Sirens from University of Southern California as well as Bruin Harmony and The Scattertones from University of California, Los Angeles will perform at SCAMFest.
The 5C a cappella group The Claremont Shades coordinates this widely anticipated a cappella showcase each year.
Hannah Lea Doruelo PO ’16, president of The Claremont Shades, sees SCAMFest as an opportunity for the groups to share their talents and for the community to learn more about on-campus a cappella ensembles.
“It gives the Claremont community a taste of all the a cappella groups here and opens everyone’s eyes to the a cappella community outside the 5Cs. It’s a lot of fun, and the main ambition of SCAMFest is to bring everyone together,” Doruelo said.
The Claremont Shades go on tour each semester to help them prepare them for SCAMFest. Doruelo describes the live performance of a cappella as an exciting experience unlike any other.
“The great thing about a cappella is it’s not a recording; there’s not a set way of performing music; every individual’s voice and every individual’s opinion matters and is given voice,” Doruelo said.
In addition to bringing the community together and introducing outside groups to the local a cappella scene, The Claremont Shades are aiming to build up the sense of community within the groups at Claremont.
“This year we’re really trying to work on creating a more inclusive a cappella community. I hope this year’s SCAMFest will act as a vehicle for that movement,” Doruelo said.
By practicing seven hours per week, The Claremont Shades are working hard to prepare for SCAMFest. Along with the other a cappella groups, they hope to present another unforgettable evening of musical performance.
“Expect all of the craziness, musicality, and entertainment of last year, and even more. It’s always a surprise. You never know what each group is going to pull out,” Doruelo said.
Women’s Blue and White, a 5C all-female a cappella group, has been preparing for SCAMFest since the summer. Frances Kyl PO ’14, president of Women's Blue and White, explained that SCAMFest is a huge time commitment, but the energy of live performance makes the long hours of practice well worth it.
“I really like everyone getting ready and dressed up and being backstage. There’s such incredible energy. You’re all so excited and a little bit nervous and there’s tons of adrenaline. It’s great,” Kyl said.
Women’s Blue and White faces the challenge of producing a cappella music without a male bass to create harmony. They overcome this by arranging their music in a specific way and adding small intricacies that specifically cater to the female voice. Kyl said that right before SCAMFest, the a cappella schedule is ramped up with extra practices and stricter rules about skipping rehearsal. However, Kyl said that Women’s Blue and White works hard but also really enjoys each other’s company.
“We have a really goofy energy; we work hard, but don’t take each other too seriously,” Kyl said.
The Claremont Shades gather the groups, have each one sign a contract, set the sound checks and rehearsal schedule, and arrange for people to take tickets on the day of the show. Bridges Auditorium works with the Claremont Shades to provide technical assistance in the form of ticket sales management, microphones, lighting, security, and much more.
According to Sharon Kuhn, events manager at Bridges Auditorium, Bridges has hosted SCAMFest for 10 years. In the past, Scripps College's Garrison Theater hosted the event, but it was relocated to Bridges as SCAMFest grew more and more popular. SCAMFest has completely sold out in the past five years; audience members include everyone from 5C students to members of the Claremont community.
This year, a subsidy from The Holmes Fund will cover the cost of SCAMFest. The subsidy will allow the Claremont Shades to use the ticket sales from SCAMFest as a fundraiser for their group to partly compensate for the expenses of travel, costumes, and other performance charges.
Kuhn confirmed the increasing popularity of SCAMFest not only amongst the Claremont Colleges but also within the town of Claremont.
“The show is so multigenerational. It’s general admission and we’ll see people lining up two hours before just so they can get seats down front. It’s pretty amazing. We’ll see people who come every year, and they’re from the retirement community, they’re from the households within a few blocks from here," Kuhn said.
"It’s a very popular event," she added.
Kuhn has attended many SCAMFests herself, and said she is always impressed with the talent displayed by the a cappella groups present.
“They’re pretty amazing. They really are very talented kids. It’s amazing, some of it gives me chills, the way they’re able to recreate songs and it sounds just like the real song but there are no instruments. It’s so cool,” Kuhn said.
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