In tune

Spar­tones to open per­for­mance at school to­day

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­ Twit­ter: @Jamie A Cindy News

St. Charles a cap­pella group places third in com­pe­ti­tion, to host con­cert this evening

St. Charles High School’s a cap­pella group is prov­ing they’ve got the beat, plac­ing third in a re­gional com­pe­ti­tion and com­ing away with three of five spe­cialty hon­ors in its sec­ond year of ex­is­tence.

On April 2, The Spar­tones, St. Charles’ a cap­pella group, took third place over­all in Sing-Strong DC, a re­gional a cap­pella com­pe­ti­tion be­tween school teams from Wash­ing­ton, D.C., Mary­land, Vir­ginia and New Jer­sey.

They also came away with in­di­vid­ual awards for Best Male Vo­cal­ist, De­vante Valen­tine; Best Vo­cal Per­for­mance, Myo Hardy and Best Ar­range­ment, Tatyana Smith.

“It was a real bond­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, we did great as a group, and it was just a great time,” said Spar­tone Tyler Chaffins, 16.

They’ll be per­form­ing again at 7 p.m. Fri­day at St. Charles, open­ing for Grammy-nom­i­nated Bos­ton-based pro­fes­sional a cap­pella group, Ball in the House, fol­low­ing a morn­ing work­shop with the group. They met the group at Sing-Strong last year and in­vited them to St. Charles.

“Their a pro­fes­sional group, and they’re com­ing down here to teach us is just a big bless­ing. It’s amaz­ing to have a pro­fes­sional group no­tice us,” said Spar­tone Thomas Snyder, 16.

A cap­pella is a style of mu­sic per­formed with­out in­stru­ments, us­ing only the voice and some­times body as well, and in­cor­po­rates mod­ern gen­res in­clud­ing bar­ber­shop, hip-hop, jazz, pop, R&B and rock, ac­cord­ing to the web­site for the na­tional non­profit Con­tem­po­rary A Cap­pella So­ci­ety, cre­ated to bring to­gether the com­mu­nity of per­form­ers and fans of a cap­pella.

Chaffins said that what he most en­joys about the a cap­pella group is be­ing able to per­form mod­ern mu­sic.

“Most other choirs, I don’t want to say they’re bor­ing, but it’s old and not re­ally me. So, I per­son­ally love mod­ern mu­sic, pop songs. I get ex­cited, I dance on stage. It’s like I feel it in­side of me,” Chaffins said.

Brian Kuhn, vo­cal mu­sic teacher at St. Charles, said The Spar­tones, a take on the school mas­cot, the Spar­tans, be­gan last year as a club meet­ing once a week dur­ing lunch break.

This year, he was able to in­cor­po­rate the pro­gram as a class, giv­ing stu­dents more time to prac­tice.

“I think this year it’s re­ally taken off,” Kuhn said.

Last year, Kuhn said the group at­tended SingStrong DC for the first time, more to get an idea of the type of com­pe­ti­tion.

“It was our first year last year, so we just went to get the feel for it, get the kids in­ter­ested in it, and this year we re­ally went to com­pete, and we got third place over­all out of 14 groups,” Kuhn said.

Spar­tone Deon­dra Thomas, 17, said it was great to see so many other a cap­pella groups at the com­pe­ti­tion.

“A cap­pella, it’s big­ger than our lit­tle group, it’s a world­wide phe­nom­ena,” Thomas said. “Although we were com­pet­ing against each other, there wasn’t a com­pet­i­tive at­ti­tude. We all learned to­gether, we sat and sung with dif­fer­ent groups and we just sup­ported each other. It was such a great ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Kuhn said form­ing a group out of stu­dents from di­verse back­grounds due to the re­dis­trict­ing that oc­curred when St. Charles opened was not easy, but this group of stu­dents has re­ally jelled.

“This is a good group of kids, full of ta­lent … full of per­son­al­ity,” Kuhn said. “With stu­dents com­ing from so many dif­fer­ent schools, it can be re­ally hard to get them to work to­gether, but in the sec­ond year, they’ve re­ally grown as a group, con­sid­er­ing all the dif­fer­ent per­son­al­i­ties, com­ing from dif­fer­ent back­grounds.”

Thomas said the group has be­come a fam­ily for her and other mem­bers.

“When you’re singing, you have to put emotion be­hind that, you have to put feel­ing be­hind that, and with that we learn so much about each other,” Thomas said.

The Spar­tones can be fol­lowed on so­cial me­dia through the Face­book page “St Charles H.S. Per­form­ing Arts Boost­ers” and on Twit­ter at @SCHS_Theater and @SCHS_Choir.


Mem­bers of the St. Charles High School a cap­pella group The Spar­tones stand on­stage with their tro­phies at the SingStrong DC re­gional a cap­pella com­pe­ti­tion April 2.

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