DANVERS — In three years, Danvers High’s a cappella group has gone from silence to making pitch-perfect harmonies.
The group of 17 — known as Falconize — will compete for a national title in April.
The coed singing group won the New England semifinals of the Varsity Vocals International Championship of High School A Capella in February, punching their ticket to the finals on Broadway in New York City on April 17. Only 12 groups from different regions of the United States make it to the competition.
“We are very excited to go and compete for the title,” said Alex Grover, the choral director at Danvers High and the director of Falconize.
“We’ve worked so hard to get to this point,” said senior Francesca Napolitano, president of the group. “Winning the semifinals was just an amazing experience to share with all my friends.”
A cappella is a type of singing done without the accompaniment of instruments.
“All of our rehearsals are without piano,” Grover said. “We use the piano to learn our notes, but then it’s all about the listening and tuning everything up and just producing that great sound.”
Members of Falconize balance rehearsals with other activities, including sports, plays, and singing in chorus or chamber groups.
“It’s just amazing to watch this group grow,” said Napolitano, who joined Falconize in her sophomore year. “I started with them from the very bottom, and we have just worked tirelessly.” Sometimes rehearsals can run late into the night, she said.
Last year, the group did not place at semi-finals. This year they took the top spot.
Grover said the group has been practicing its competition repertoire since July. They’ll perform three songs in New York, and the routine cannot go longer than 10 minutes, or the group could be disqualified.
During a recent rehearsal, members performed warm-up drills, then took to the stage to sing “Move” with solos by Napolitano, Siobhan Breen and Eileen Vandewalle.
The group then moved to the rehearsal room to practice their moves to “Better Dig Two” with a solo by Kelsey Brooks.
Grover, 27, is in his third year as choral director at Danvers High. He graduated from Salem High in 2005 and then from Wheaton College.
“High school was always my dream job in terms of teaching music,” he said. “I started this group the year I got here.”
A cappella has become a hot musical trend in high school after being popular at the college level for quite some time, according to Grover. It’s also gained a foothold on reality TV.
“It is sort of bleeding down into high school because of things like ‘Pitch Perfect’ and ‘The Sing-Off’ and because people like me — kids that did collegiate a cappella — are coming down as music educators and doing it in high schools with their choruses.”
Falconize has started a campaign on the crowdfunding site Kickstarter to raise money for the trip to New York. As of Friday, 10 backers had donated $740 toward the goal of $2,000. You can learn more at www.kickstarter.com. Just search for the group by its name.
Falconize is also holding a “Spring Sing” on Thursday, April 2, at 7 p.m. at Danvers High School. Tickets are available through Kickstarter for $20.
Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.