As the month of February concluded, Fairfield Warde High School’s two a cappella ensembles prepared for one of the most important shows of the year, “A Cappella Night” at Tomlinson Middle School on February 22nd. The performance has become a staple in the Fairfield music department, inviting Chamber Singer groups from Tomlinson, Fairfield Woods, and Roger Ludlowe Middle Schools alongside both Warde and Ludlowe’s multiple high school a cappella singing groups. In addition, a college a cappella ensemble is invited to participate in the festival, with this year’s group being Marist College’s “Time Check,” featuring Fairfield Warde a cappella Alumni Dylan O’Brien.
Isaac Liu, soloist of Warde’s co-ed group, Muse & Overtones, described the process leading up to the performance as extremely enjoyable, saying, “It’s so great seeing everything come together. It takes a lot of hard work during rehearsals, especially because of how difficult some of the music we’re doing this year is, but it only makes the final product even more satisfying.”
Just as frigid temperatures begin to engulf the town of Fairfield as winter began and the schedules of high school students begin filling up, Warde’s music program similarly increases in rehearsal intensity. This more difficult music, immediately following that of the Carillon performances, provides an instant return to a more strenuous model of music making for Warde students involved with a cappella.
However, this more difficult rehearsal process isn’t the cause of student exhaustion, but rather the result of true passion in the Warde community.
Senior Zack Mudd, Muse & Overtones bass, admitted that this year in particular, it has become evident that enthusiasm has been the catalyst through the build-up to the performance. He shared that this year’s group is “so much fun to be around,” and that he truly enjoys the rehearsal process, raving about both “moments of creating great music” and “the community that a cappella has become.”
In fact, despite more difficult music and sometimes more frequent rehearsals, nearly every student in the a cappella program didn’t seem fazed, instead sharing the sentiments that Zack described. The strength of community and friendship in the program paired with the musical magnificence has made for an empowering, unforgettable experience for all students involved.
Hope Lester, first-year member of Warde’s Treblemakers, echoed this idea. When asked about her favorite part of the process, she immediately mentioned her group’s dynamic, saying that “running the songs as a group and getting into the music” makes for an extremely satisfying and enjoyable payoff. The high performing levels of each of Warde’s music ensembles have, rather than somehow detracted from the experience, instead acted as a platform to express musicianship and an opportunity for forming an incredibly supportive community.
It’s the prospect of leaving this community, in fact, that can make the seniors’ final a cappella night so bittersweet. Muse & Overtones alto section leader Sarah Gombos described that, as somebody who has participated in the festival for the past seven years, it’s difficult to imagine leaving: “The community is so incredible, and I’ve been so lucky to have been able to perform at this concert for so long. It’s going to be tough to say goodbye to something like this.” It’s the musical moments and lasting friendships that have made a cappella such a phenomenal experience for the students that take part in it.
Dylan O’Brien, alumni of Fairfield Warde High School and Muse & Overtones, returned for the performance as a member of Marist’s “Time Check.” He had looked forward to the experience of “coming home,” saying that he “remembers being blown away by the college groups” and that it was a “dream” to be able to come back to Warde and perform in the annual concert. He fondly spoke of his time at Warde, reminiscing on his experiences and friendships in the Warde music department that have remained a part of who he was, even through college. His enthusiasm for the performance is shared by many involved, as a cappella Night has consistently provided opportunities for dreams, like Dylans, to “come true.”