A CAPPELLA’S NEW NOTE

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March 31, 2020 | LENGTH: 56M 47S

A CAPPELLA’S NEW NOTE

From the classroom to the stage, “A Cappella’s New Note” takes you behind the scenes and live in concert with three Wisconsin High School vocal groups as they prepare for and perform in an annual festival in Port Washington, Wisconsin — called “Acapocalypse” — celebrating the genre of a cappella music.

Still photography courtesy of Robert Tyree, Port Washington, Wis.

Contemporary A Cappella in Wisconsin

In 2002 at Port Washington High School, Dennis Gephart formed the contemporary a cappella group Limited Edition with his students, attaining national recognition over years of performing. Inspired by Limited Edition, choral director Ryan Stuempges started Vocal Point at Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau High School, earning accolades as another national level a cappella group from Wisconsin.

Today, over 130 schools in the state offer contemporary a cappella. Each spring, Port Washington High School hosts “Acapocalypse,” a two-day festival of concerts and workshops for a cappella groups from Wisconsin and around the country. Every summer, Wisconsin music educators host A Cappella University, a week of clinics, masterclasses and performances to develop the talent of young contemporary a capella singers. 

Tony Huerta on A Cappella in Wisconsin

Tony Huerta, a professional audio engineer, singer, producer and teacher who works with Wisconsin high school a cappella groups speaks to why contemporary a cappella is so popular and why it has taken off in the state.

A Cappella Primer

A Brief History of A Capella Music

The students of Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau High School’s Vocal Point a cappella group give you a brief lesson in the history of a cappella music.

What Are Vocal Ranges?

The students from Port Washington High School’s Limited Edition a cappella group explain and illustrate the different vocal ranges.

How To Build A Chord With Voices

The students from Milwaukee High School of the Arts Vocal Jazz Ensemble show you how a vocal group combines their voices to sing a chord.

“When I’m with all of these beautiful people, we drift away from everything. All the problems go away because we sing together. This is what I want to do for the rest of my life.”

– Kimberly, MHSA Vocal Jazz Ensemble

Class Acts

Port Washington High School

Limited Edition A Cappella

The Port Washington High School’s Limited Edition regularly ranks among the best high school a cappella groups in the country. Go behind the scenes as choral director Dennis Gephart and his students rehearse songs and talk about what a cappella music means to them.

“Old Friends” in the Studio and on Stage

Limited Edition goes to Tanner Monagle in Milwaukee for a studio record of their version of the Ben Rector song “Old Friends.” The students share what it means to them, now, to be a member of Limited Edition as they recount how they idolized the group when they were younger.

“Drivin’ Me Crazy” Barbershop Rehearsal

Those crazy kids and their barbershop music! It’s a typical day in the choir room at Port Washington High School as choral director Dennis Gephart and the boys of Limited Edition a cappella rehearse their barbershop arrangement of “Drivin’ Me Crazy.”

Milwaukee High School of the Arts

MHSA Vocal Jazz Ensemble

Students in the MHSA Vocal Jazz Ensemble seek to perfect the art of vocal jazz performance. Here they rehearse and perform jazz classics with choir director Raymond Roberts, who describes the process of teaching teenagers how to master vocal technique on songs written over fifty years ago.

“Ray’s Rock House” at Sacred Heart

The MHSA Vocal Jazz Ensemble performs for the residents of the Sacred Heart Senior Home in Milwaukee with a vocal arrangement of the Ray Charles classic “Ray’s Rock House.” They also perform at the “Acapocalypse” concert in Port Washington on March 29, 2019.

“Best Part”

The students of the Milwaukee High School of the Arts Vocal Jazz Ensemble rehearse a special Valentine’s Day version of the popular song “Best Part” by Canadian singer Daniel Caesar. Jordan Greer sings lead vocals and Ebony Zemlicka strums guitar.

Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau High School

G.E.T. Vocal Point

Choral director Ryan Stuempges and his students from Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau’s Vocal Point show the mixture of hard work and fun that goes into creating a successful a cappella group. They demonstrate how being from a small town doesn’t mean you can’t do big things.

G.E.T. Vocal Point Rehearsal Process

G.E.T. choral director Ryan Stuempges and the students of Vocal Point show how they prepare their a cappella performances using a five step rehearsal process from mastering the notes and rhythms, to adding dynamics, to perfecting performance.

The National Anthem

Vocal Point performs the national anthem for the G.E.T. girls basketball team at their state tournament. Watch the students prepare for their performance and travel across the state to the Resch Center in Green Bay to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at center court.

“A Cappella is kind of taking over. It’s a really unique aspect of the music world.”

– Carter, G.E.T. Vocal Point

The “Acapocalypse”

Limited Edition – “Madness”

Port Washington High School’s Limited Edition a cappella performs the song “Madness” (2012) by the English rock band Muse. Jane Kautz sings lead vocals at the “Acapocalypse” concert held in Port Washington, Wisconsin on March 29, 2019.

G.E.T. Vocal Point – “Somebody To Love”

Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau High School’s Vocal Point a cappella group performs the classic Queen song “Somebody to Love” with Carter Bennett on lead vocals at the “Acapocalypse” concert held in Port Washington, Wisconsin on March 29, 2019.

Milwaukee High School of the Arts Vocal Jazz Ensemble – “Put ‘Em In A Box”

The Vocal Jazz Ensemble performs the song “Put ‘Em In A Box, Tie ‘Em With A Ribbon, and Throw ‘Em In The Deep Blue Sea” (1947) popularized by Doris Day in the film “Romance on the High Seas.”

Limited Edition – “Deeper In The Water”

Port Washington High School’s Limited Edition a cappella performs the song, “Deeper In the Water,” with lead vocals by Tyler Grant at the “Acapocalypse” concert held in Port Washington, Wisconsin on March 29, 2019.

Milwaukee High School of the Arts Vocal Jazz Ensemble – “My Funny Valentine”

The MHSA Vocal Jazz Ensemble performs “My Funny Valentine” at the “Acapocalypse” concert in Port Washington, Wisconsin on March 29, 2019. This show tune from 1937 became a jazz standard thanks to renditions by musical legends like Frank Sinatra, Chet Baker and Ella Fitzgerald.

5 AM A Cappella – “Back Pocket”

5 AM A Cappella is a group of Wisconsin music educators who perform together. Busy schedules demand they rehearse at five in the morning, inspiring their name. Here they sing the Vulfpeck song “Back Pocket.”

G.E.T. Vocal Point – “Unsteady”

Vocal Point performs the song “Unsteady” with Hailee Correa on lead vocals at the “Acapocalypse” concert in Port Washington. This version of “Unsteady” was arranged by G.E.T. Vocal Point member Mackenzie O’Neill.

Highlands Voices A Cappella – “Colour”

Highlands Voices are an a cappella group from Northern Highlands Regional High School in Allendale, New Jersey who traveled to take part in the “Acapocalypse” concert. Here they perform the song “Colour.”

G.E.T. Vocal Point – “Story of My Life”

Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau High School’s Vocal Point a cappella group performs the song “Story of My Life” with Sam Schoonover and Mackenzie O’Neill on lead vocals at the “Acapocalypse” concert held in Port Washington, Wisconsin on March 29, 2019.

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