A Capella unites voices

The Suffolk Ramifications recently performed at the C. Walsh Theater as part of Suffolk’s annual A Cappella Festival, a night that was marked by song, dance, and the use of voice over instruments. Presented by the Performing Arts Office at Suffolk University, the festival featured several a cappella groups from around the Boston area, all of which participated after being invited by The Ramifications.

“It’s something that we do every year; it’s just a nice way to include other Boston schools in our shows,” said Suffolk senior Kayla Hopkins, student music director for The Ramifications. “We [also] perform at other schools in Boston and out of Boston events. We just try to get anyone we know to come perform with us.”

The show began with a Rams performance of Adam Lambert’s song “If I Had You,” lead by senior Kevin Hadfield. It was the perfect beginning to the night – a great leading number that gave an eager audience a taste of what was yet to come.

A performance by The Toons of MIT/Wellesley followed The Ramifications’ opening number. Following The Toons were The Starving Artists of Brandeis University; professional a cappella group Overboard; Emerson College’s group Noteworthy; Emmanuel College’s Acapocalypse; and The Bostones from BU. All groups were dressed in mostly black apparel that night, but it did not take away from the colorfulness of the many a cappella performances.

“Everyone seemed to really like it,” Hopkins said about the audience’s reception to the night’s performances. “They especially liked that we invited the professional group Overboard. And we had a lot of groups perform. One of our members’ sister started a group at Emmanuel and that was their first gig and it was awesome. Overall, it was really good feedback.”

Planning for the A Cappella Festival began in February and was led by James Bailey and Jeff Numero. The two Rams members not only worked on putting the stage aspect of the night together, but also on the reception that followed, which was held in the Sawyer Lounge and featured music by DJ STAMZ. Nick Panagiotou, business manager for The Ramifications, contacted the Boston-based a cappella groups who performed between The Ramifications’ numbers.

The show closed with four songs performed by The Ramifications: “Feeling Good” by Michael Buble; “Some Kind of Wonderful,” a Joss Stone cover; “Colorblind” by the Counting Crows; and finally “Shark in the Water” by ZZ Brown. The 18-member group’s performance that night clearly illustrated just how much hard work and dedication is put into every song.

“We practice really hard, three days a week, and it’s either learning music, choreography, or just brushing up and getting things really tight with dynamics,” Hopkins asserted.  “It’s about five hours a week that we rehearse and we probably perform around two or three times a month.”

The practice shows, as the Rams recently competed in the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella, where they were awarded best choreography and best vocal percussion. Jeff Numero, who regularly beat boxes for the group, was awarded best beat boxer and overall The Ramifications placed second runners up. Their latest album, If Maniacs Riot, is featured on the Best of College A Cappella 2010 album and has been nominated for Best Mixed Collegiate Album of the Year 2011 by The Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards. The Ramifications work hard, and the hard work pays off – both in competition and camaraderie.

“I think it’s the best experience I’ve had at Suffolk and I’m lucky to have been a part of it for four years,” Hopkins concluded. “I just like how close we are and how fun it is. We do auditions every semester and accept new people every year, so people should come out to audition.”

To pick up a copy of The Ramifications’ latest CD If Maniacs Riot visit the Performing Arts Office in Donahue 409.