MSU a cappella groups create “all-star” team

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Last year, singers at Michigan State University created an “all-star” a cappella group comprised of members from different groups on campus.

“Spartones came about last year when Varsity Vocals, the company that runs the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella competition, announced that for the first time ever, they’d be doing an open competition for professional level groups,” said Isaiah Hawkins, music director of State of Fifths A Cappella.

Image credit: Isaiah Hawkins

A snapshot of just some of the choreography the Spartones performed at the competition.

 “Come March, we got the group of people, pulled together the arrangements, learned them and submitted an audition video all in the span of four rehearsals.”

Though comprised mostly of members from different MSU a cappella groups, Spartones is also open to others.

“We had two people that didn’t even attend MSU this past year,” said Jamie Park, former member of Ladies First A Cappella. “It was full of people committed to the music and the group, rather than it just being an after school extracurricular activity.”

Image credit: Jamie Park

Members of Spartones pose with the awards they won after competing in the Aca-Open.

Park graduated last spring of 2017 and now works as a prevention program assistant for Eaton Regional Education Service Agency.  

“I was originally going to back out when Spartones was beginning to form, as I was graduating and everyone else was still a student,” said Park. “I said ‘why the heck not.’ One of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I was so glad to continue singing a cappella when I thought I would never be able to again.”

A cappella singers used to lose their singing homes after they graduated and left one of the seven groups on campus. With roots in every group, Spartones offers an extended stay in the popular activity.

Twenty-two year-old Brandon Bilinski, a chemical engineering major and former member of State of Fifths A Cappella, is excited to be a Spartone for the first time.

Image credit: Jamie Park

The MSU Spartones go out to eat as a group before the big competition.

“I think it’s going to re-energize my love for music and help me become better friends with all of the Spartones,” said Bilinski. “I was missing a cappella since I took a year off of school. There is so much talent in MSU a cappella and it’s great to see it come together under one name.”

Spartones is back and preparing for this summer when it will compete again in the Aca-Open competition.

“Spartones exists to build positive relationships between members of different a cappella groups on campus that typically rarely see each other throughout the year,” said Hawkins. “We want to show to the world just how talented the MSU a cappella community is. When we combine our voices to a common goal, we really can create something extraordinary.”


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