November 30, 2012

Jeanette Grider

A Capella Groups: In Style with the Present, In Touch with the Past

It has been said that music is the language of the ages and a bridge to understanding across all cultures. It can set a mood, soothe the soul and inspire us to action. It is rhythm, words and the unique talents of the musicians that brings it to life.

On the Saint Louis University campus, students with that unique talent are sharing music that is as new as today's hottest performers and as old as Medieval musicians gathered in stone cathedrals - a  capella.

Simply defined, a capella is vocal music without instruments. Hundreds of years ago, singers gathered closely around one large, beautifully scribed musical manuscript on a stand to blend their voices in magnificent song. Today they gather around a laptop.

At SLU, four a cappella groups - Astha, Bare Naked Statues, Beyond All Reason and Decadence -- are making music come alive. They are students of all ages, interests and backgrounds from across the country and around the world who share a common love of music.

In addition to performing, the groups often rehearse five to ten hours a week and also work on music arrangements and staging.

SLU's a cappella groups have performed at campus events that include Homecoming, Relay for Life and Billiken basketball games as well as concerts both on and off campus. Check out each group's web site for performance schedules and updates,


A co-ed fusion a cappella group, Astha was started in 2006 by six students who came together to sing Indian fusion music, hang out and jam. Astha has grown from jam-sessions to complex compositions, from six music-lovers to fifteen talented singers from a variety of backgrounds, all with an interest in singing a diverse mixture of melodies that combines Western and Eastern musical influences. Don't miss the Astha La Vista concert at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30, in Carlo Auditorium.

Meet Astha: Teja Devarakonda, Jessica Young-Eleazar, Eleanor Humphrey, Jakob Klinger, Lynn Koo, Vishesh Mathur, Chloe Owens, Ravi Patel, Sam Peter, Georgie Philip, Pruthvi Pota, Prashanth Somasundaram, Shobha Sridhar, Zach Strehlau and Disha Upadhyay.

Bare Naked Statues

SLU's all-male a cappella group, Bare Naked Statues, was founded in the fall of 2000, and has gained a strong reputation among the SLU community for innovative style, musical talent and creative performances. They have performed around St. Louis, traveled to Chicago and also released a CD - All Expenses Paid.

Meet Bare Naked Statues: Alex Bolano, Sean Binkley, Chris Bunyard, Jered Castillo, Paul Eberle, Chris Enter, Garvaundo Hamilton, Montel Harris, John Holland, Jim Kane, Ashish Nathani, Mark Ofreneo, Maurice Roper, Diontray Thomas and Brian Tunney.

Beyond All Reason

The first and only all-female a cappella group at SLU, Beyond All Reason was founded in the fall of 2002 by students Monica Reicks and Becky Phillips and started with 10 singers. Today it has grown to 14 members. They sing a little bit of everything but it's often contemporary songs that you would hear on the radio. Like most other collegiate groups, all of the songs performed by the group are arranged by current or previous members.

Meet Beyond All Reason: Jenny Day, Jessica Foley, Amitha Gade, Sadie Hamilton, Sally Iocca, Ryann Javois, Monica Kavanaugh, Amy Lickenbrock, Melissa Lifka, Paige Martin, Cassie Molloy, Alison Talkers, Zara Petkovic and Liz Vondeerhaar


Founded in September 2010 by SLU students, Kristine Gage, Kristin McGuire, Julia Gilbert and Emily Frankoski, Decadence is a co-ed a cappella group. The name Decadence stems from two vital parts of the group's existence - "deca" from the 10 original singers and "cadence" -- a musical term that describes the progression of two chords leading to closure within a musical composition. Now a group of 17, they perform a repertoire that spans many genres, including Rock, Pop, Oldies, Holiday, and R&B, at events both on and off campus.

Meet Decadence: Nica Cabigao, Kate Essig, Wolf Gaidis, Bridget Gayer, Julie Gilbert, Zach Grummer-Strawn, Pete Hasser, Erin Kofron, Catherine Lee, Alex McCoy, Tim McCoy, Francis McDonald, Kristin McGuire, Evan Mojica, Rodney Pruitt, Cari Schneider and Sami Skladany.

Members of the Astha a cappella group.  Photo by John Lamb
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