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A Cappella Opportunity


The NorthernairesA week before classes started, when other students were packing and soaking up the last moments of summer freedom, eight students were back on campus, rehearsing and preparing music.

These eight students are members of ONU’s vocal jazz octet, the Northernaires. The octet, directed by Dennis Kratzer, professor of music, was given the opportunity to open for Rockapella, a globally popular a cappella group set to perform at the Freed Center on Sept. 26.

Although this is the third time that the Northernaires have been asked to open for Rockapella, it is the first time for the current members. The ensemble includes Molly Howard, a senior music education major from Coudersport, Pa.; Sydney Kuhlman, a senior communication arts major from Ada, Ohio; Virginia Harrod, a senior music education major from Fairfax, Va.; Brianna Bizzaro, a sophomore music education major from Port Allegany, Pa.; Eric Smith, a junior music performance major from Toledo, Ohio; Kyle Roby, a senior social studies major from Bluffton, Ohio; Michael Bizzaro, a senior music education major from Port Allegany, Pa.; and Tim Smith, a senior music education major from Westerville, Ohio.

Michael Bizzaro, a three-year member of the ensemble, is excited about the show. “This is a huge opportunity and honor to open for such a prestigious group as this. They have been the staple for contemporary a cappella for nearly two decades. To be on the same performance venue as them is humbling.”

Kratzer formed the Northernaires nearly 10 years ago. To be chosen as a member of the group is a selective honor. Kratzer only accepts students of sophomore status or above, members of University Singers, exceptional sight-readers and musicians, and students who vocally blend together. The group secures area gigs and travels to high schools and churches to perform.

Two-year member Harrod has benefited greatly from her participation. “Almost all my best friends are in the ensemble, and we have a really great sense of connectedness this year,” she says.

Perhaps this is why Kratzer says this year’s members make up the “best group [he has directed] in awhile.”

The Northernaires will open the show with three a cappella songs: “Gota,” a Swedish vocal jazz number; “My Funny Valentine,” a 1930s love song; and “Africa,” a moving piece from the 1980s.

Kratzer encourages everyone to attend the upcoming show, not only to see the Northernaires, but also to watch Rockapella, a group that “provides one of the most unique music experiences you’ll ever sit through, using their voice in ways normal singers can’t.”

Jamienne Scott
Junior communication arts major from Columbus Grove, Ohio