25 years of “a-mazing” a cappella

For the last 25 years, the UAA Concert Board has hosted A Cappella Festivella. The annual music event is part of homecoming week and features a different famous a cappella group handpicked by the board each year.

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Musae, an all-female a cappella group, will perform on Thursday, October 11 at 7:30 p.m. in the Wendy Williamson Auditorium for the 25th annual A Cappella Festivella event.

This year, the event will feature Musae, a contemporary all-female a cappella group. Members of the group have competed in NBC’s “The Sing-Off,” the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella and MTV’s “MADE.” Since their formation in 2011, the five women have also performed together at festivals in and outside of the U.S, according to their official website.

Sairah Oliva, anthropology major and concert board member, is a personal fan of Musae’s music and believes the audience at the festival will gain the same appreciation.

“I’m very excited about Musae. They’ve got style and that translates beyond their music and into an energy around them,” she said. “The songs that they are famous for are songs that will really connect with people.”

The event is one of the longest traditions at UAA. Oliva feels that A Cappella Festivella is very beneficial to both the university and the Anchorage community.

“It’s not a genre of music that comes to everyone’s mind, but I think people are gaining an appreciation for it, and that’s all the more reason that I’m proud our university has been doing this for so many years,” she said. “Its impacts are far reaching because yes, entertainment entertains us, but it also touches us and can be heartfelt.”

A Cappella Festivella was brought to life by Andrew Israels-Swenson, a former concert board member. In its time, prestigious groups including The House Jacks, an all-male group, and The Filharmonic, a Filipino-American group, have participated in the festival. Pentatonix, one of the most famous a cappella groups widely known for their Christmas songs, took the stage for the festival’s twentieth anniversary.

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Zac Clark has been the coordinator for the concert board since 2005 and served on the board during his time as a student. He remembers the tenth anniversary of the festival, and many of the festival’s regulars do, too.

“The main thing that’s kept it going is the passionate fans that we have. There’s people that love a cappella and don’t have a lot of opportunities to engage with it and look for this event every year,” Clark said. “It’s built in an identity that whether or not people are familiar with whoever the artist is, they’re going to have a fun time coming to the show.”

Another concert board member, Alexia Bazan, is also looking forward to the festival. From her parent’s involvement in music to her own experience as a DJ and member of UAA’s Glee Club, Bazan’s long history in the arts has given her a deep appreciation for events like A Cappella Festivella.

“I’ve always been involved in a lot of things; that’s just my nature. I love participating,” she said. “‘I’m really excited about [the festival]. It’s gonna be a really good time.”

Although it isn’t confirmed yet, the Glee Club is one of the possible groups that will open for Musae at the event, according to Bazan.

A Cappella Festivella will kick off on Oct. 11 at 7:30 p.m. in the Wendy Williamson Auditorium. Advanced tickets are $5 for students, $15 for alumni, faculty, staff and youth under the age of 17, and $20 for the public. Tickets are available online at uaatix.com as well as in person at the UAA Student Union information desk. Each ticket costs $5 extra when purchased at the door.