On Thursday, Sept. 9, students gathered in Seegers Union at 11 p.m. to attend Berg’s Got Talent, a showcase of eight singing groups.
Zach Rabishaw ‘22, president of the A Cappella Council, helped organize and host the event which served as the first in-person, indoor and maskless performance since the shutdown in March of 2020. Rabishaw described it as “the culmination of my four years,” and expressed “We’re all super excited to be back. It’s the thing we love most about Muhlenberg.”
One major challenge facing the community of student ensembles is a drastic shortage in membership, as the current sophomore class was not able to audition last school year. For the first time, some members performed in multiple groups to help fill missing gaps, which helped foster a sense of community amongst the groups. Rabishaw stated that no tensions or rivalries exist, asserting “It’s all about having fun and singing with friends.”
“One of our groups is as small as five people, when each group usually ranges from 12 to 17. We lost two whole class years we weren’t able to make up,” said Rabishaw. Rabishaw is referencing the two classes of graduating seniors since the pandemic hit in 2020.
The call for new membership was reinforced throughout the night, with frequent reminders that sign up sheets would be available after the show, with a sizable draw as every seat in the event space filled. Additional rows of attendees formed and occupied standing room on the sides and back of the room.
Although the event was primarily an a cappella showcase, two additional groups, Rejoice Gospel Choir and GASP (Great American Songbook Project), featured vocal music in the performance.
Rejoice was the first group to hit the stage. They sang and swayed in unity, rallying up the crowd. Audience member Patricia Madrigal ‘25 commented that “As soon as the singing began, I got goosebumps.”
The next performance was by GASP, who performed an arrangement of the popular 1920s tune, “Orange Colored Sky.”
Desmond Reifsnyder ‘22, a long-time member of the group, described GASP as “tight-knit,” and added that the inclusion of a piano accompanist differentiates them from the others.
The six a cappella groups were introduced with short clips. Each group has its own distinct style and vibe depending on the members within the group.
CODA, which featured female, genderfluid and non-binary vocalists, was up first. Their soloist, Alex Goldman ‘22, inspired cheers to every impressive note. They were followed by Acafellas, the all-male and non-binary a cappella group, who sported their signature flannels.
The next four groups encompassed all genders and covered a variety of musical genres including Noteworthy, a Broadway group; Chaimonics, a Jewish group (with many non-Jewish identifying members); Dynamics, the oldest running group; and InAcchord, a contemporary R&B group.
The performances flew by with not one second wasted. The groups maintained a pulse throughout the crowd until the very end of the show that would make anyone forget it was minutes until midnight.
“The energy was just electric,” expressed Aidan White ‘25, eagerly. “As a potential future member, I saw their love for the craft and desire to be a part of that.”
Steven Belloise ‘25 was struck by the diversity of sound and talent on display. “One group had four key changes, one girl had tons of riffs, there was beatboxing, amazing harmonies, and audience participation,” he remarked.
Lily Magoon ‘24 described the singing groups as “a big part of ‘Berg,” pointing attention to the large number of students studying theater, music and dance.
The success of the event proves not only the opportunities for students to pursue their interests, but also the pride shared by the student body for the thriving vocal music community on campus.
In the three days following Berg’s Got Talent, the groups held auditions in Moyer Hall. They will continue to host events throughout the year.
“There was something so cool about singing in person again after over a year of being online- you could feel the energy in the room,” explained Alexandra Rivers ’22, president of Noteworthy. “The performers, the audience- everyone was just happy to be there.”
Maya Rabinowitz ‘24 shared her reaction to the event. “It was incredibly moving to see my classmates perform and be so passionate about something. Everyone here is so talented it’s overwhelming. The room was packed and so supportive. You could feel the love while sitting in the audience.”