Acatober thrills Wellesley

The combined choral ensemble performs under the direction of Dr. Kevin McDonald. Photos by Barry Braunstein Photography

Wellesley High School’s Choral Department kicked off the concert season with its a cappella extravaganza, Acatober, on October 18 and 19. This annual concert showcases the talents of the more than 300 students who participate in the choral program, directed by Dr. Kevin McDonald.

The combined WHS ensembles began with an engaging mix of songs, including “Happy Together” and “Pop Music.” Song Sisters then performed a stirring rendition of “Amazing Grace.” The Rice Street Singers treated the audience to the upbeat “Pass Me the Jazz,” followed by the melancholy “Autumn Leaves.” Brooks Brothers delivered a dose of energetic fun with “Hooked on a Feeling.” The Keynote Singers concluded the first part of the concert with a poignant rendition of Billy Joel’s “Lullaby,” followed by the playful “Johnny One-Note.”

Iris, a vocal trio based in New York City, then took the stage as this year’s guest group. Formed in 2018, Iris specializes in new takes on classics to appeal to different generations. Dara Orland, David Rowen and Andrew John Kim captivated the audience with their amazing vocal blend. Highlights included “What a Wonderful World,” “My Favorite Things” and “Bridge over Troubled Water.” 

Rice Street Singers performing ‘Pass Me the Jazz.’  Photos by Barry Braunstein Photography

Rice Street Singers performing ‘Pass Me the Jazz.’ Photos by Barry Braunstein Photography

After Iris performed, the student emcees— Will Cohen-Pratt ’20, Lili Culhane ’20, Jack Johnson ’20 and Caroline Russo ’20 — introduced each student-run a cappella group. Renegade A Cappella began with “Wild Heart” and “Feeling Good.” Next was Inchordination with “Right as Rain” and “Mr. Blue Sky.” Ladies First then sang “Am I the Same Girl?” and “Mercy.” Finally, A Cappella Anonymous performed “Leave the Light On” and “Take Me to Church.”

For the students, the appeal of these groups goes beyond their love of singing. Asked what he enjoys most about being a leader of A Cappella Anonymous, Andrew Pini ’20 said, “the feeling of accomplishment I got once the group clicked and began singing as a whole group rather than just a group of individuals.”

For Anna Tellalian ’20, a leader of Ladies First, being involved in a cappella “has created a community and family that is constantly changing and growing. … I am so thankful that I have had the opportunity to be a part of this.”

Megan Worrall ’20, a leader of Renegade, agreed: “In a cappella, you’re able to get involved with a small group of people that become your family by the end of the year.”

Jack Johnson, a leader of Inchordination, added, “Through a cappella, I have made some of my best friends and created some of the most memorable and fun experiences of my high school career. A cappella has taught me skills in collaboration, work ethic and creativity. I wouldn't give the last three years up for the world!”

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