Wednesday, December 23, 2015

CMU's A Cappella Tradition

by Colton Hengesbach

One tradition loved by many in the Central community during the Winter holiday season is listening to musical performances from members of the CMU student body, faculty, and staff. For over 80 years, Central Michigan University has had its auditoriums, walkways, and gathering areas blessed with music. This music, however, wasn’t created by any musical instrument as you might think of one; it was created entirely by voices. A Cappella groups have been a prominent part of CMU’s musical history ever since the first group was formed by Professor J. Harold Powers -- sound familiar? After a stint as the Keeler Union, the building known as Powers Hall today, was the  Music Building, a building where J. H. Powers taught and for which he is now the namesake.

The first A Cappella group on campus was primarily formed by Choir students and Glee Club members. This talented group of 16 men and 20 women mostly performed at assemblies that the entire University community attended. Little did this group know that they would be the founders of an entirely new way of performing and producing music on Central Michigan University’s campus.

Image from December 1933 Centralight

Today, there are three A Cappella groups on campus. First off, there is the all-male group, Fish ‘N Chips. Secondly, there is an all-female group named On the Rox. Last, but certainly not least, the only co-ed group at CMU, Central Harmony. Each group has their own style of music, which is typical among A Cappella groups. Similar to today, the first A Cappella group on campus also had their own style and feel to the songs they performed. This group pulled from many classical composers and used a number of different dancing styles to accompany their arrangements. For a more detailed list of this groups members and a set list, check out the December 1933 Centralight (p.8).

Things sure have changed over the years in terms of the variety of music and the way A Cappella groups entertain crowds. New songs make for a new way to create this music and new ideas shape how this music can come alive. One thing among all A Cappella groups that will never change, though, is the love of music