The Syracuse University Mandarins win accolades at international a cappella competition
The Syracuse University Mandarins win accolades at international a cappella competitionMarch 07, 2002Judy Holmesjlholmes@syr.edu
It’s not possible to spend a few minutes chatting with the Syracuse University Mandarins without the members of the a cappella group bursting into song. The Mandarins, a subgroup of the SU Women’s Choir, is a close-knit group of 11 enthusiastic and talented women who love to sing together.
In February, the Mandarins became the first SU a cappella group invited to compete in a regional competition of the International Championship of Collegiate A cappella (ICCA), sponsored by Varsity Vocals. While the group did not win the competition, the group’s student conductor, Kelly Stallard, a senior music education major, won the top prize for Best Arrangement for her rendition of the Beatles’ hit “Yesterday,” which the Mandarins performed for the competition.
The Mandarins will perform the winning song during a concert at 8 p.m. March 27 in the Rose and Jules R. Setnor Auditorium in SU’s Crouse College. The concert is free and open to the public.
“College and university women’s choirs are increasing in number throughout the country,” says Barbara Tagg, director of the SU Women’s Choir. “The SU Mandarins reflect a growing trend on college campuses as well for a cappella singing. We are all very proud of their outstanding efforts.”
“When they announced Kelly’s name, we all started screaming,” says Tracy Helf, a sophomore music education major. “We screamed louder than the group that won the competition.”
Each year, Varsity Vocals invites 108 a cappella groups from across North America to compete in one of 25 shows held in six regions-New England/Central Canada, Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, South, Midwest and the West. The Mandarins competed against groups from Cornell and New York universities and the universities of Rochester and Buffalo in a show held at the University of Buffalo on Feb. 23. Cornell’s Class Notes won first place in the Buffalo competition. Winners of the regional competitions advance to the semi-finals before advancing to the finals that take place in Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall in New York City in April.
“It didn’t make any difference that we didn’t win,” Stallard says. “It was enough for us to simply be invited to compete.”
In addition to performing about six times a year on the SU campus, the Mandarins spring 2002 schedule has included performances at the University of Toronto, the Rochester Institute of Technology and Colonie Central High School in Albany, among others. The group practices four to five hours a week-on top of all of its members other commitments. Group membership is limited to those who also participate in the SU Women’s choir. However, students receive no extra course credit for being a member of the Mandarins.
“We do it for love,” Stallard says. “This is voluntary pain.”
The SU Women’s Choir is the largest choral ensemble in the Rose, Jules R. and Stanford S. Setnor School of Music, College of Visual and Performing Arts. It is a non-auditioned choir for undergraduate and graduate women who love to sing. Tagg is an adjunct faculty member in the Setnor School of Music and the artistic director and founder of the Syracuse Children’s Chorus. In demand internationally, Tagg has presented concerts and workshops in Europe, Canada, Hong Kong and China, as well as for many universities and choral organizations throughout the United States.