A capella groups ring in holiday season


Alyosha Romanov

The Other Guys a capella group performs at its holiday concert earlier in the month at the Lincoln Hall Theater.

By Elizabeth Sayasane, Staff writer

The Girls Next Door a cappella group has been performing a winter show on campus for over 30 years.

Grace Palmeri, sophomore in ACES, is president of the group and has been responsible for coordinating much of this year’s performance.

Her responsibilities included booking the venue, making sure sound systems were ready and attending to a number of behind-the-scenes duties.

“It’s just a good chance for us to get in the holiday spirit as finals come along,” she said.

The winter show premiered at the Spurlock Museum on Saturday. The setlist included 14 songs, four of which were Christmas songs and 10 of which were standard group songs.

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

The women wore Christmas outfits for half of the show. They were also joined in one of their holiday songs by another a capella group, The Other Guys.

The Other Guys also had a winter performance this month, but on Dec. 1. This was the group’s 50th annual holiday concert.

Connor Pils, sophomore in Business, is the business manager and media/public relations manager for The Other Guys.

“Everyone (is) just sharing in that holiday joy,” he said.

For part of this concert, The Other Guys swapped out the traditional navy and orange cardigan for ugly Christmas sweaters. They decorated the stage with lights, Christmas trees and candy canes.

The Girls Next Door performed a song with the men, as well as the Illinettes, who partnered with them to coordinate a dance. For this concert every year, the group learns three to five Christmas songs.

Not every a cappella group performing at this time of the year is focusing on the holiday theme, though.

Pieter Svenson, sophomore in Engineering, is the music director of the Xtension Chords, another all-male a cappella group.

As music director, his responsibilities include leading rehearsal, coordinating concerts and gigs throughout the semester, planning which songs will best fit the group’s set for different performances, conducting performances and blowing the pitch pipe.

On Nov. 30, the group performed “X-Fest,” their fall semester concert.

This fall show, instead of mixing Christmas themes throughout the performance, showcased several songs they have been working on throughout the semester.

“Arranging and learning a Christmas song, in our eyes if we’re not going to do an actual performance based around it,” Svenson said. “We’d rather learn more well-known pop songs or some cool throwback or jazzy groovy tunes or something like that.”

This year, the men’s performance had a number of elements to it. They opened with a mini set, then had an intermission.

After that, an old X Chord and his brother came as guest performers to do a couple of acoustic numbers. Along with singing songs, the group performed a couple of comedy sketches such as “What we’re thinking” and “Buy our CDs.”

That’s what makes a cappella performances special, according to Svenson.

“If you have a bunch of people that are standing up and facing you and basically talking to you,” he said. “I mean that’s engaging, especially when they’re moving around on stage, making jokes and making eye contact.”

In spite of the fact that all of these performances are competing for performance spots and audience members when they sell tickets on the Main Quad, many of these groups are friends.

“It’s a way to bring us together that normally we wouldn’t really meet these people,” Pils said.

Every group has a wide variety of disciplines, interests and experience levels.

Pils said The Other Guys includes students from acting, business, political science, engineering and French. He also said that while many of the guys come with experience from high school, this is some  of the members’ first time singing in a group like this.

Svenson also said the Xtension Chords experience this. While they have a select number of music majors, they also have many engineers and business majors in their group.

Some musical experience can come in handy though, as all three groups only perform music arranged by a member of the group, an alumni or a member of another a cappella group.

Palmeri said this can make the performances special.

“We spend so much time learning it. We spend so much time perfecting each individual thing, and I think that’s really special too because we get to showcase that at these shows,” she said. “Sometimes it goes over people’s head. They don’t realize how much effort we put into it, but we do.”

[email protected]