We sing for ice cream: The great a cappella comeback

| Senior Cadenza Editor

The Ghost Lights perform at their spring concert in 2019. Photo by Grace Bruton | Student Life

Washington University’s 13 a cappella groups are back in action, and the tradition of showcasing the ensembles over ice cream has been greatly missed. Whether you are a prospective a cappella member or a student who delights in instrument-less music, this event brings music lovers from all over campus together. As you have probably noticed, several rooms around campus have been reserved for different groups and their auditions. A cappella members in the class of 2024 missed this experience the year they tried out, but they are now acting as a pivotal part of this audition process despite the lack of previous exposure to the a cappella scene. 

This event functions as both a showcase and a recruitment event. It allows interested students to get a preview of the different groups, ask questions and get to know the active members. In addition, students get to meet other students who have interest in the a cappella scene. 

Sophomore Mary Kate Charles recounted her experience as a freshman during virtual recruitment and how, despite already having gone through the audition process, this year’s social is new to her.  

I’m a sophomore, so I auditioned virtually last spring and relied on videos of the groups on Instagram [and other social media platforms] to learn about the groups… which was definitely a different experience than getting to meet and see all of the groups in person.”

This was the first opportunity Charles got to perform with her group, the Ghost Lights. Although this is the first time they have been able to recruit in person, it still feels a little different than past years. Previously, the ice cream social was held in Graham Chapel or Holmes Lounge, places with wonderful acoustics and resonance. 

For freshmen, this was one of the first big club events of the school year, and it showcased just how apparent the a cappella scene is at the University. Even more so, it allowed first year students to sense the familial bond fostered within the groups.

Freshman Max Olszer reflected on his experience meeting the groups and auditioning. “As a whole, it made it feel more like performing for your mom’s friends who love you no matter what than for a bunch of people actively judging me.” 

The sound of musical voices returning to the University seems to be a sign of the times. Don’t get me wrong, COVID-19 is still raging in St. Louis (and across the world), but the music provides a glimpse of hope — a light at the end of the tunnel, if you will. Things seem right in the universe as a cappella groups return to Washington University; they are a staple of the community, and their resurgence has revitalized the energy of the campus. 

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