Ensemble to sing acapella

UNA’s Vocal Jazz Ensemble will strip songs to the bare minimum with its March 23 performance, ‘Voices Unplugged.’ 

The performance will take place at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church at 7:30 p.m. 

‘Voices Unplugged’ will showcase the individual talents of the students featuring solos and duets from several members of the ensemble.

Despite the name, the UNA Jazz Ensemble will not be singing jazz. 

“It’s a group that needs a new name, because thatís not who we are,” said Ian Loeppky, director of choral activities. “Only about a quarter of what we do could be considered jazz.”

The ensemble, which is a collaborative acapella group, will sing without accompaniment and without microphones.   

The music will feature a variety of artists, such as Pentatonix and the Beatles. The students have transcribed or arranged many of the songs. 

The set list will also include a variety of global and classical music.

“We cast a big net style-wise,” Loeppky said. “The best thing about this ensemble is no one can pin us down. We’re pretty unique.”

Senior Hannah Allen, a vocal choral major, said the group has given her the opportunity to grow and become more independent as a vocal performer. She said while the performance is a group effort, there is more individuality.

“(The group is) a little more exposed than being in a large choir,” she said. “(We’re) a smaller group, so you can easily be picked out. You can really represent yourself and have self-expression.”

During the vocal jazz ensemble class, the students have been given the freedom to choose music for themselves, to collaborate on pieces and to create their own works, Loeppky said. 

“What’s been the most liberating for me is the creative freedom that comes with it,” said freshman Preston Burks. “You’re getting to show your own side of your artistry.”

Although Loeppky is the director, he said he will rarely conduct the performance.

“Someone once said, ‘Teaching is the art of becoming increasingly unnecessary,’ and that’s the fun in this,” Loeppky said. “(It’s fun) being able to take a hands-off (approach) more and more each day, until one day it wouldn’t matter if I showed up because they’d still be making music.”