The a cappella community at Northeastern is vibrant and active, each semester holding various shows, performing at gigs in Boston and beyond, and competing throughout the year. Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic put most of these traditional activities on hold and challenged Northeastern’s vocal artists to re-envision performance, practice, and collaboration. Pitch, Please!, a premiere all-female identifying a cappella group at Northeastern, is no exception – and the group’s members have continued to innovate, remain active, and stay as connected as ever this past semester.
The organization is one of the seven groups that create amazing opportunities for students to learn and grow as a cappella singers and performers.
“What I love the most about being a part of Pitch, Please! is the community it has given me,” said CAMD student Julia Chase, Communication Studies & Theatre major. “We are such a tight-knit group. Not only are we all supportive of each other, but we are all extremely dedicated and committed to making each and every endeavor we take on something fantastic.”
The group, currently comprised of 17 members, was formed in 2012 by two Northeastern students looking to create a competitive female a cappella group that challenges the boundaries of collegiate a cappella. Now, years later, the group has proved to do just that by releasing three albums of high caliber a cappella, as well as consistently remaining top competitors at the International Competition of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA).The group is competitive and committed to growth, but the members never fail to have fun, bond over the music, and welcome new members every year.
“I really couldn’t have asked for a warmer ‘welcome to college’ than the one I got from every single person in Pitch,” added CAMD student Olivia Materetsky, Music Industry major, who joined the group this fall. “They all helped me find my place here so quickly, and I can’t thank them enough for that.”
In 2019, Pitch, Please! had their most successful ICCA season yet. They placed first in the Northeast Quarterfinal with additional accolades of Outstanding Soloist (Mackenzie Hunt) and Outstanding Vocal Percussion (Lora Riehl). Soon enough, they found themselves performing at the Finals at the Playstation Theater in New York City, where the group did not place, but were recognized with the award for Outstanding Vocal Percussion (Lora Riehl, who is the group’s Music Director).
“I have been the Music Director for Pitch, Please! for three years and the position’s steep learning curve has taught me invaluable lessons that I’ve carried with me into the professional world,” explained Lora Riehl, who is a CAMD student majoring in Graphic Design.“ By the time I began working at my first co-op, I had made mistakes, and grown so much as a Music Director, that I was comfortable with being vulnerable. I had the logistical skills required for any position but more importantly, I had the experience to know when I was in over my head and the confidence to ask for help.”
After such a productive and memorable 2019 season, Pitch, Please! was eager to return to the ICCA and showcase another polished set. They started off the season right in February by placing first again in their Quarterfinal. However, after months of music and choreography rehearsals, the ICCA season was officially cancelled due to the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic. For a time, it started to feel like they would not have the opportunity to showcase their hard work to an audience.
A few months into quarantine, though, Pitch, Please! realized that it was time they used their voices to bring light to the world’s current situation by releasing virtual videos of their full 2020 ICCA set. So far, they have released “Evergreen” (originally by YEBBA) which features a compilation of shots of the individual members singing a beautiful ballad behind lush forest backgrounds.
And more recently, the group released “All For Us” (originally by Labrinth & Zendaya) which takes a much darker approach than “Evergreen.” The video shows them at their individual homes cleverly executing smooth transitions between different make up and outfit concepts, paired with an eerie vocal arrangement of the song from the popular television show Euphoria.
In addition to allowing them to perform at big–name events and venues like The Playstation Theatre and the Boston Symphony Hall, members of Pitch, Please! point out that the group has helped them in their own unique fields and professional situations as well.
“My involvement in Pitch has helped me in so many other, un-a cappella-related situations. It has taught me how to best work in teams, and how to handle and deliver critique gracefully! It reminds me every day that practice and dedication truly do make perfect.” said CAMD student Gayathri Raj, Interaction Design major.
It has even assisted one member, Ellen Dalen, in opening doors for her career in technology.
“I’ve always loved music, but being in a competitive a cappella group was something I didn’t expect to be at all related to my career in Computer Science and Design student.” Ellen concluded.“My last co-op and job after graduation at Apple Music is partially thanks to my involvement in Pitch, Please!”