Commanding the stage

16 member a cappella group gears up for performance

Valerie Pioppi, Staff Reporter

Transcendence is the 16-member a cappella group at Millard West and is regarded as the highest-level group in the vocal music program. Choir directors Jordan Newhouse and Zack Bjornsen auditioned the group in mid-September, and they’ve been working hard since to bring together their repertoire.

The group is student-led, meaning that despite Newhouse and Bjornsen running auditions, they have very little involvement in the teaching, learning, and performing of the pieces. The students do all of this, and even sometimes select their own music. This can be quite the learning curve for many students who are new to the group.

“Student-led rehearsals are challenging, but I like it because you get out what you put in,” senior Elsa Covi said. “I’ve been in a cappella groups before, but nothing as small as this. It’s a pretty unique experience.”

The group performed at their first concert on Oct. 10. In the past, Transcendence has stuck to performing strictly at choir concerts. But this year, the choir teachers and students wanted to branch out. The group’s members took it upon themselves to plan their first ever gig, Christmas caroling at a local retirement home.

First-year member, senior Maddie Olderog took charge and organized this gig through a family member who works at the home. 

“Arranging the gig has been so fun,” Olderog said. I’m so excited to bring everyone’s talent somewhere other than Millard West.”

The group is preparing hard for this gig, rehearsing every Monday and Friday morning as well as the occasional flextime rehearsal. Although the early mornings are difficult, the group members feel it makes all the difference.

“We work so hard in our rehearsals to learn all of our music,” junior Evan Shidler said. “Spreading joy to people through music is so important to me, and I am very happy we can perform at more than just one holiday concert.”

The set list for the upcoming gig is filled with holiday spirit, from timeless Christmas tunes to modern spins on usual carols, transcendence has made sure to diversify their set. 

Upcoming Transcendence performances include Dec. 6, at the full program holiday concert, as well as their highly anticipated gig on Dec. 10.