Founded in 1999, Renaissance is an all-female a cappella group comprised of 10 women from the University Singers, the University of Maine’s select auditioned choir. Last Saturday, Nov. 21, Renaissance performed in front of more than 100 people in Hauck Auditorium.
“I am excited for the group to perform here,” Katie Lees, co-manager of Renaissance, said. Normally, the singers perform in Neville Hall, so performing in Hauck Auditorium is a step Lees has wanted the group to take for a long time. “This space works better with a cappella music. It brings out our sound and allows us to have some growth.”
The Maine Steiners, UMaine’s all-male a cappella group, opened the show with four songs and plenty of humor.
“The a cappella community here at UMaine really supports each other,” Sebastian Ragot, a Steiner, said.
Mainely Voices, UMaine’s mixed a capella group, gave an intermission set for Renaissance, with mashups of hit songs by the Black Eyed Peas, Ellie Goulding and Maroon 5.
Wearing their signature purple scarves, the ladies of Renaissance performed 14 songs in total. The genres of songs in their repertoire ranged from pop to indie.
“The songs Renaissance sings depends on the group of the year, and tonight’s music is mostly alternative,” Lees said. Most of the songs were arranged by alumni of the group, one of whom is Molly Hunt, a May 2015 graduate who is currently an Honors Associate at UMaine’s Honors College.
Renaissance performed several of Hunt’s arrangements, including arrangements of Smash Mouth’s “All Star” and Fleet Foxes’ “White Winter Hymnal.” The group also performed an arrangement of Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek,” arranged by alumna Brittany Elwell and revised by alumna Carlena Smith.
The piece won the award of most intricate arrangement at the University of Connecticut’s “Spring Off,” an a cappella invitational hosted by UConn’s female a cappella group, Chordials, this past April. All of the ladies in the group had an input in arranging the last song of the show, Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah.” When the group finished their last song, the audience burst into applause and praised Renaissance with a standing ovation.
This was the third time the emcee, Morgan Cates, who sang for Maine Steiners for three years, hosted a Renaissance concert.
“I always say yes, because it is a fun, laid back show, and everyone is here to be a part of it,” Cates said. “Tonight’s audience was very much here to hear the music, and I am glad it was a good turnout.”
This was the eighth a cappella show Dom Barra, a third-year animal and veterinary science student, has attended.
“I come to support my friends, and to see how the new members change up the sound each year,” Barra said.
A big admirer of the School of Performing Arts (SPA), Barra also regularly attends dance showcases and jazz concerts given by UMaine students.
“You should at least go to one SPA show, if you don’t, you are missing out on a lot,” Barra added.
Renaissance is currently looking into a regional competition, and is planning to go on an annual tour with the University Singers during spring break, as well as their own tour at the end of the spring semester.