With 9 New Recruits, ‘Gathering’ Aims High
It’s a familiar sight. The first Friday of each month, Emory students gather on the DUC terraces and watch in awe as their peers perform a variety of music a cappella. Each group performs two songs before handing the spotlight over to another ensemble.
While attending the concert may be a spontaneous decision for a student passing through campus at the end of the week, The Gathering, Emory’s only all female a cappella group, starts preparing for First Friday two weeks in advance.
The group, which is entirely student run, puts quite a bit of thought into choosing which two songs they sing, College sophomore and member of The Gathering Elena Todorova explained. They try to perform songs that are different yet related in some way.
For example, at the most recent First Friday, the group sang Christina Aguilera’s “Come on Over” and Katy Perry’s “Wide Awake,” which have similar music but different thematic elements, according to Hannah Teetor, College junior and member of The Gathering.
The Gathering chooses their songs from a repertoire of music, which musical director Allison Costello previously arranged. In order to compose an a cappella version of a song, the group must arrange vocal accompaniments to replace any instrumental parts.
All members of The Gathering contribute to tweaking such arrangements as they rehearse. They sometimes compose mash-ups by adding in a few bars of another song in order to fill any negative space, according to Teetor.
Nine new members joined The Gathering this year, doubling the total number of people in the group and significantly affecting their musical dynamic. Instead of only one person singing each vocal part, four people sing certain parts, which means that they often have to sing softer than they did previously to avoid overwhelming the soloist.
Todorova noted that The Gathering’s larger numbers allow them to perform much more sophisticated accompaniments. Friendship is equally as important as music to The Gathering, Todorova noted.
“Our members are chosen based on talent, but we grow to form friendships,” she said. “Everyone is always willing to help each other out.”
Teetor reflected on her time in The Gathering as a unique part of her college experience.
“It’s not graded,” she said. “I do it because I love it.”
Earlier this semester, The Gathering performed for over 50 people at an early screening of the movie Pitch Perfect, a film about an all-girls singing group. They will also sing at Diwali on November 10 in addition to performing at their fall concert on November 30.
— By Elizabeth Howell