Sensasian a cappella

Wash. U.’s new Asian sensation

Scene Reporter

Fans of a cappella music, Asian cultures and puns pay heed: A new a cappella group has joined the ranks of Washington University’s music scene.

Sensasian, founded last semester by sophomores Lisa Ma and Phoebe Tran, brings an international flair to its musical stylings. Sensasian performs classic and contemporary Asian songs in addition to English songs that are popular in Asia.

Ma and Tran have had the idea of an Asian a cappella group since their freshman year.

“We wanted to combine our love of a cappella and Asian music, especially stuff popular in Asia,” Tran said. “We know there’s a huge market for Asian music, not just in the Asian community but also outside of it.”

According to Ma, one goal of the group is to expose more of the public to contemporary Asian music.

“Other countries listen to music from all kinds of places,” Ma said. “The U.S. is kind of closed off to that.”

Sensasian’s repertoire currently consists of eight songs, including currently popular music, a folk song and two other English songs.

With a multilingual repertoire comes the difficulty of mastering pronunciation of diverse languages. “Each song we have, unless it’s in English, there are a few members that don’t speak that language,” Ma said. “We help each other with pronunciation.”

Lack of a fan base, initially Sensasian’s main concern, has been somewhat alleviated for this startup group. “Because a cappella is so strong on the Wash. U. campus and so strongly supported, it wasn’t as hard to start,” Ma said.

Ma and Tran enjoy being a part of such a high-quality a cappella community. “It gives us incentive to work toward good singing and good performance,” Tran said.

According to the founders, the group has already improved significantly since last semester. And with a membership comprised of only freshmen and sophomores, the group has plenty of time to continue developing.

Currently, the group’s members are all Asian. “We’re hoping to change that, though,” Tran said. “The reason it’s all Asian to start is that we actually recruited from the group of international students at the beginning of the semester. We do hope to get non-Asians in the group.”

Sensasian has performed at various functions this year already, including the Taiwanese Student Organization semiformal, and will be performing Friday night at the Spirit of Korea festival from 6:30-9:30 p.m. Tran and Ma hope to host a concert of their own sometime in the future.

“Also, since a lot of us are international students, performances outside of the country would be great,” Tran said.

As for the unique group name, the options that were rejected may seem even more amusing than the final decision. “Rice Harmony” and a name involving bamboo did not make the cut.

“They were pretty bad,” Ma added on the proposed names.

The group has a positive outlook on the future.

“We are thinking we will start an audition process starting next semester to get a group of around 12 maybe,” Ma said. “Another goal is recording in the long run, although we don’t know if it’ll happen in the time Phoebe and I are here.” But recording or no recording, this group certainly aims to gain a strong musical presence on campus, and has been working toward that goal since its inception.