Castleton’s Vocal Unrest music group, along with several other A cappella groups from across New England, gathered at Castleton on Friday night to sing for a very special cause.
The fourth annual BEAT IT! Benefit concert was hosted in the Casella Theater and combined a night of music along with a charity raffle to raise money for the American Cancer Society and the Be the Match Foundation.
Castleton sophomore and Vocal Unrest Music Director Jessica Pierpont has been working closely with the group to give their audience a unique sound unlike other concerts.
“It’s such an amazing musical experience,” said Pierpont. “It’s not like ‘technical’ music with instruments. It’s something people naturally do with their body’s and that just makes it so much more interesting than what you’d normally listen to.”
A cappella utilizes only the voice and no instruments, with a group singing to mimic the sounds created by normal instruments.
Pierpont began the concert four years ago as a senior in high school after her father was diagnosed with bone-marrow cancer and passed away a year later. Since then, Pierpont, along with her mother and sister, have set up the event to raise community awareness, as well as funds for cancer research.
“At the time everyone in my community was dwelling so heavily on it,” said Pierpont. “It was very depressing. I wanted to do something to turn everyone around and help instead.”
Along with Vocal Unrest, the show included groups such as Divisi, an all male A cappella group from Central Connecticut State University, who performed renditions of “Paradise” by Coldplay, “Fat Bottomed Girls” by Queen, “Bye Bye Bye” by N’sync, and other hits.
Also on stage was Burlington based A cappella group Root 7, who brought their own renditions of many songs like “Imagine” and “Bad Romance,” as well as a combined version of “Rollin’ in the Deep” by Adele with the Vocal Unrest singers for the finale.
“We love to sing, it’s a great way to get plugged in and really channel yourself,” said Divisi member Matt Hubbard. “We love being able to come out and sing for people because it will hopefully get them as inspired as we are and say ‘Hey, I can do that too!”‘
Many people in the audience, such as Randy Wheeler and Carol and Stewart Brock, were indeed feeling that way by night’s end. “We drove all the way here from New Hampshire to see this,” said Wheeler. “It was definitely worth the three hour drive!”
“From somebody who can’t sing it’s amazing to see the amount of time that they put into their technique,” said Carol. “Everybody has their own unique sound in the group and it must take so much practice to find every little part in a song for each person.”
Vocal Unrest has been active on campus for seven years now, with the group’s current lineup heavily rehearsing for events such as this since the start of the year. But for members like Isaac French, the benefit and other events put all of that practice to the best of use.
“We hadn’t rehearsed or sang together with Root 7 until they came this afternoon,” said French. “But it was really cool how we were able to sing with people like them and make it into a great song so fast.”
The benefit concert raised over $500 and saw roughly 100 people in attendance throughout the night. In past years, the show was an open concert in which anyone could perform, but this year marked the first time it was an A cappella based event. This is a trend that Pierpont hopes to continue in the future.
“It’s a subject that many people feel is important,” said Pierpont. “I love music because it really has a way of connecting with people and bringing them together. Everyone involved with this worked so hard to make it happen.”