URI a cappella group ready to hit the right notes

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Rhody Rhapsodies to host first on-campus concert April 26

KINGSTON, R.I. – April 24, 2015 — As visitors enter the second floor of the University of Rhode Island Multicultural Center on Monday nights, they might be greeted with a cacophony of voices as the Rhody Rhapsodies, a student-led a cappella group, discuss song choices, arrangements or simply make idle chatter.

But the cacophony quickly gives way to sublime harmony as the group rehearses popular songs such as “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons, “Pompeii” by Bastille, “Umbrella” by Rhianna or “In My Life” by The Beatles.

In its first year, the group is comprised of 25 students who sing, hum and even beatbox to songs from various musical genres and eras. Their hard work will come to fruition Sunday, April 26, at 3 p.m. when they host their first concert on campus in the ballroom of the Memorial Union, 50 Lower College Road in Kingston. It is free and open to the public.

The Rhapsodies rehearse twice weekly in the cramped confines of room 203 in the Multicultural Center, where their backpacks, jackets and umbrellas are strewn about while they take their places sitting atop tables arranged in a square.

“Remember, when we’re on stage, we’ll all be in a single line, not singing to each other, so we have to make sure we project out to the audience,” Rhody Rhapsodies co-president Nick Castro, of East Hartford, Conn., reminds the group.

As music director, Castro guides the arrangements of each song and serves as a defacto conductor for the group during rehearsal, bringing the Rhapsodies voices to booming crescendos and quickly dropping them to muted hums with the wave of a hand.

At the close of each song, members offer critiques to co-president Molly Seasholtz, of Douglassville, Penn., who dutifully records notes in her laptop to help the Rhapsodies improve.

It has been an exciting year for the Rhapsodies, who were borne out of the disbanded a cappella group Pitch Slapped. Castro and Seasholtz, who were part of that group last year, were disappointed when it disbanded and wanted to continue to sing, so they helped form the Rhapsodies at the beginning of the 2014-15 academic year.

After sitting through 50 auditions, they whittled the group to 30 people and then further to the 25 who will perform Sunday. The students come from a variety of academic disciplines, many from the physical sciences, with only one music major in the bunch.

Through countless rehearsals, musical changes and a few performances at events such as a campus rally, a cultural carnival, a church gathering and several off-campus concerts, the Rhapsodies have worked diligently to blend their personalities and voices.

“It can be difficult to keep focused with so many people, but we’ve done a great job working together to get better,” Castro said. “We went to Roger Williams University on April 12 to perform and, before the show, we were rehearsing quietly with everyone clumped together, and it was just perfect. It almost brought tears to my eyes. That’s the first time it felt like we were a real a cappella group, and it’s felt that way ever since.”

With soaring confidence to match their soaring voices, the Rhapsodies are ready to treat the Memorial Ballroom audience to a full-length show.

“It’s amazing. At this time last year, we had eight people. Now 25 are committed to the group. Seeing them all work together is a blessing,” Seasholtz said. “We’re all very excited. We’ve come a long way this year and we can’t wait to showcase what we’ve done.”

Pictured Above: University of Rhode Island a cappella group The Rhody Rhapsodies will host their first on-campus concert Sunday at 3 p.m. in the ballroom of the Memorial Union, located at 50 Lower College Road in Kingston.

Photo courtesy of Kristen Lemieux.