A capella group stays ?Vocal?

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    By Elizabeth Stitt

    Most concerts don?t feature works by Bon Jovi, Michael Jackson mixed with an arrangement of ?Praise to the Man,? but that?s what makes Vocal Point entertaining.

    The nine voice a cappella group celebrates its 15th anniversary this year with several performances. The popular BYU group performs several times a semester to sell-out crowds.

    Vocal Point performs a variety of music, including rock, pop, jazz, country and spiritual. Their talent recently won them several Pearl Awards from the Faith Centered Music Association, including Best Performing Artist and Best Performing Group.

    The group was started in 1991 by BYU alumni Bob Ahlander and Dave Boyce. The group was not originally affiliated with BYU, but in 1994 they were approached by the School of Music to become an official BYU singing group. Vocal Point now functions as a class. More than 100 people have been members of Vocal Point as actual singers, directors or honorary members.

    In its 15 years, Vocal Point has competed and won prizes in many national competitions. They have also gone on performing tours and performed live concerts at several other universities.

    Ahlander said when he and Boyce started the group they had two goals. They wanted to start a tradition of student-directed singing at BYU and also to form a group that would outlive them.

    ?If Vocal Point is around in 100 years?I hope it will be and believe it will be?that?s when I?ll feel like we did the right thing,? Ahlander said. ?I want Vocal Point to sing at my funeral is what I?m trying to say.?

    Because Vocal Point?s goal is to continue, they have built a unique tradition.

    ?Generally with collegiate groups they pop up and go away,? Stevens said. ?They pop up when guys are in school and when they all take off and leave, the group sizzles and goes away.?

    While nearly half of the members of the group graduate or leave each year, Vocal Point stays strong by recruiting new members. This also gives variety to the group because other groups may keep their same members, but Vocal Point is all about change.

    Stevens said a capella groups are unique in general because for the audience, there?s nothing in the way of the singers. Other groups watch the director instead of the audience. In a capella, there aren?t any barriers.

    JJ Haines, Vocal Point member, said a capella remains a popular genre because they interact with the audience.

    ?I think a capella?s popularity has a lot to do with there being nothing between you and the audience,? said Haines. ?It?s all voice?no instruments or pre-recordings or anything. I think people see or hear a capella and think, ?That?s something maybe even I can do.??

    The BYU group welcomes talent from students who want to try out. The group performs to a sold-out audience Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in the de Jong Concert Hall. More information about the group and future performances can be found online at byuvocalpoint.com.

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