Spartones to open performance at school today
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.