Acapalooza Brings Area Singers, Fans to Shore

On February 10, five high school and college vocal ensembles joined Shore's Acafellas and Puellae Cantantes in the Trustey Family Theatre for the 13th edition of Acapalooza, an annual invitational celebration of a cappella performance.

Performing on the bill with Shore's sixth-ninth grade students were Medford High School's Los Rubios, Hamilton-Wenham High School's Dell Belles, Pingree A Cappella, Manchester-Essex Regional High School's Sound Waves, and headliners the Vocal Suspects of UMass Amherst.

Most of the visiting ensembles, said Upper School music teacher and Acapalooza organizer Jenn Boyum, came with at least one special connection to Shore.

See the complete concert video below.

Kicking off the evening of performances, Upper School math teacher and Acafellas member Kent Vienot explained the history of the unique festival. A cappella first took hold at Shore some 20 years ago, he recounted, when the Acafellas and Puellae Cantantes were born under the guidance of former music teachers Mike Salvatore and Peggy Lao, former fourth grade teacher Yungjin Oh, and current third grade teacher Sam Hamlin. 

"The Acapalooza celebration was first imagined by Oh," said Vienot. "Over the years he helped to bring groups from Tufts, Northeastern, and many independent and public high schools to Shore." Today, music teacher Jenn Boyum continues to reach out to alumni of Shore's a cappella groups to invite them to bring their high school and college ensembles to the school.

Oh, who was known for his love of singing, also was passionate about diversity initiatives at Shore. As Vienot explained, proceeds from Acapalooza directly benefit those initiatives.

Leading the evening's lineup were Shore's Acafellas, who performed a stomping version of the country classic "Drift Away." They were followed by their sister group, the Puellae Cantantes, who offered their take on the Shawn Mendes hit, "Stitches." The two Shore groups concluded their set together with Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror."

Shore's ninth grade vocalists then introduced the first of the invited high school ensembles, the Dell Belles of Hamilton-Wenham High School, featuring Shore alumna Lily Wainwright '16. Following the Dell Belles were a cappella singers from Pingree School, Shore alumnus Christian Krohg '15 among them. 

The show continued with Los Rubios of Medford High School, led by Shore alumna Georgia Bowder-Newton '14. Los Rubios were joined by several former members for their final barbershop-style number, including Georgia's brother, Shore alumnus Gus Bowder-Newton '12, currently a student at UMass Amherst. 

After the Manchester-Essex Regional High School's Sound Waves ensemble finished their set next, it was time for Gus Bowder-Newton to return to the stage with the evening's headliners, UMass Amherst's Vocal Suspects. The college performers invited all the rest of the night's singers back to the stage for the show's finale, a rousing rendition of Vulfpeck's "Back Pocket," which the performers had rehearsed together earlier in the day. The joyful and catchy dance song—about a pair of fifth graders forming a fast playground friendship—was a fitting conclusion to Acapalooza 2017.
    • Gus Bowder-Newton '12 with UMass Amherst's Vocal Suspects

    • Jenn Boyum and emcee Kent Vienot

    • The Acafellas

    • Puellae Cantantes

    • Pingree a cappella, with Christian Krohg '15

    • Manchester Essex's Sound Waves

    • Present and past members of Medford's Los Rubios, led by Georgia Bowder-Newton '14

    • All the singers in the finale