A musical sendoff for seniors — set to the theme of an a cappella group’s 50 year reunion at a retirement home — took place in Studley Theatre this past Sunday, May 1. Hosted by Absolut A Cappella, SUNY New Paltz’s premiere coed a cappella group, the performance consisted of eight songs sung by Absolut, three songs performed by the Sexy Pitches, New Paltz’s all-women’s a cappella group and for the first-time ever, a collaboration song with both Absolut and the Sexy Pitches.
The songs performed by Absolut in the first act were as follows: “Cosmic Love” by Florence + the Machine with soloist Rachel Sacher, “Reflections” by MisterWives with soloists Jeremy Sodergren and Erin Conlon and “Holding Out for a Hero” by Jennifer Saunders with soloist Isabella Rios. The captivating performance by Rios was a highlight of the first act with her full and soaring belt during the song’s bridge.
After Absolut performed the first part of their set, the Sexy Pitches performed their three songs “Rhiannon” by Fleetwood Mac and “God is a Woman” by Ariana Grande with soloists Caitlyn Schmidt and Julia Lombard respectively. “Bills, Bills, Bills” by Destiny’s Child was the Pitches’ closing song with three soloists Lia Cardone, Claire Lindsey and Caitlyn Schmidt.
The final song of the first act was the aforementioned collaborative effort between the two groups. Together they sang Beyoncé’s “Love on Top” with soloists from both Absolut and Sexy Pitches. In order they went: Caitlyn Schmidt (Pitches), Isabella Rios (Absolut), Halle Syrop (Absolut), Hailey Brown (Pitches) and Patrick Kerley (Absolut).
A brief intermission followed “Love on Top” where members of Absolut ran a game of bingo with the audience to fit the theme that the group set of “Retirement Home.” Winners of bingo received Absolut A Cappella merchandise.
The second act of the invitational was a showcase of Absolut’s graduating seniors. “The outgoing seniors were each given the opportunity to sing their favorite song from Absolut’s repertoire,” said fourth-year psychology major and President of Absolut, Erin Conlon. “After performing, they were gifted with kind words and flowers to send them off.”
The four songs that this year’s seniors chose to perform were: “You Go Down Smooth” by Lake Street Dive with soloist Alex Rosenthal, “Electric Love” by BØRNS sung by Staci Wachsstock, the “Love Me Mashup” — a combination of Demi Lovato’s “Tell Me You Love Me” and James Authur’s “You’re Nobody ‘Til Somebody Loves You,” arranged by Absolut members. The soloist for “Love Me Mashup” was Erin Conlon. The final senior showcase song was “Grace Kelly” by MIKA sung by soloist Trent Boock.
To top off the show, Absolut performed a finale song which Conlon said was one of their favorites to sing: “Hand of God” by Jon Bellion with soloists Halle Syrop and Isabella Nuzzo. This captivating song is the outro song to Bellion’s debut studio album “The Human Condition” and is an amalgamation of every song that comes before it on the album. When arranged for a cappella, this meant that there were upwards of 15 individual parts being sung at once.
All these moving parts may read as just a jumbled mess, but it was extremely cohesive and provided a sound that was overtly pleasing to the listener.
“Next year, Absolut hopes to be more active on campus and reinstate dorm performances,” Conlon said. “With COVID-19, dorm access was strict, but we are hoping for a turn around next year. We also hope to compete in ICCA again and bring home a title for our school!”