Written by Emily Kohn ‘19
Amidst the crisp fall breeze and the enticing scents of food trucks, 15 voices sang their hearts out at the DA All-School Picnic on Oct. 21.
At their first show of the year, Durham Academy’s auditioned a cappella group, XIV Hours, began its second year as a fully student-led a cappella group. The dynamic performance featured the songs “Imagine,” originally by John Lennon, with a solo from junior Finn May, and a medley of Billy Joel songs: “Tell Her About It” sung by Carl May, “She’s Always a Woman” sung by senior and music director Yaakov Huba and the classic “Uptown Girl” sung by senior Jack Anderson.
Music directors and seniors Huba and Sheridan Kum are proud of the tone they’ve set this year. On the All-School Picnic performance, Huba said, “I think we as a group need to get out there more, get recognized and be a bigger part of the DA community.” Kum agreed about their plans to increase the group’s publicity: “By the end of the year, we really want to go to a studio [and] record the songs … to get our names out there.”
As leaders of a completely student-run group, Kum and Huba are responsible for arranging the music, teaching it to the other singers and fine-tuning the performance. When explaining why he loves being a music director, Kum said, “I think it’s just great to spread our love for music because we don’t really have that right now. … There are very, very few extracurricular singing groups [at DA] … but it’s really good to have a community that allows people to enjoy [singing], whether it be a hobby or passion, and explore something new that they haven’t done before.” Huba added, “What people don’t realize is that, when we arrange a song, we don’t arrange the song so that it sounds like the song or so someone sounds like a guitar. … It’s kind of a testament to the human voice [and] what we can do with our human voice that others have to use instruments for. It’s ... just a totally different genre of music, [and] it’s really fun to do.”
To experience a cappella music firsthand, the group encourages everyone to come to upcoming XIV Hours concerts, which is a one-of-a-kind experience. On that note, Huba said, “When you watch an a cappella show, it should be fun. You should be getting into it just as much as the people on stage are… but at the same time, I think that there should be a level of appreciation for how difficult a cappella is. … Maybe [the audience even] enjoys the song better as an a cappella song than the real song.”
With such a passionate and polished start, it looks to be a promising, pitch-perfect year for XIV Hours.