This past Saturday evening, I had the pleasure of attending the “2nd Annual Bryn Mawr A Cappella Festival: A Key to Change!” The festival was hosted by the Extreme Keys, the oldest a cappella group at Bryn Mawr (in fact, the oldest all-female group in the Bi-Co), and half of the proceeds will be donated to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. It was a wonderful evening, with eighteen a cappella groups representing Bryn Mawr, Haverford, Temple, Drexel, Villanova, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, and St. Joseph’s University (the program also listed Swarthmore, but none of the groups actually appeared to hail from the college). The festival was coordinated by Delia Bowman (’16), Julia Shreiber (’18), and Ellen Cohn (’17), who shared that the Keys had chosen to support JDRF in part because Ellen has type 1 diabetes.
I knew from previous experience to expect an awesome show, and I was not disappointed. The performances were fantastic, from the S Chords, Haverford’s all-male group known for performing in white overalls, to 54th and City’s memorable mash-up of “This is Gospel” by Panic! At the Disco and “Sugar, We’re Going Down” by Fall Out Boy that had me swearing one of the soloists was Brendon Urie in disguise. The wonderful Night Owls, our official a cappella group, were followed by three other all-female groups–Singchronize (Temple), the Wildcats (Princeton), and Counterpoint (composed of members from both Haverford and Bryn Mawr). Counterpoint’s raunchy-yet-sweet “Birthday Sex” mashup was also notable–though this may have been due in part to junior Siobhan Glynn’s candy distribution during her “Lollipop” solo. What can I say–of course I love any group of talented, beautiful women, but candy is really going to get my attention.
The Extreme Keys, of course, stole the show. I may be biased, as my “heller” is in the group (and my hell sister, aunts, grandheller, etc), but they really know how to perform. Seniors Delia Bowman and Medoza Ameen provided wonderful renditions of “How to be a Heartbreaker” by Marina and the Diamonds and “Electric Lady” by Janelle Monae. The three newest members of the Extreme Keys blended so perfectly with the rest of the group that I forgot I’d never seen them perform before. The Keys were followed by eight more spectacular groups, with the University of Pennsylvania’s Dischord closing out the show. Many of the spectators then walked over to Radnor for the afterparty, which had almost as much singing as the actual festival. All in all, it was a great evening.
Unfortunately, one group’s performance hit a sour note. Penn Six, an all-male “comedy a cappella” group from the University of Pennsylvania, sang three parody versions of well-known songs, with lyrics referencing gonorrhea, a mailman’s leathery sack, and the sexual preferences of Jewish women. Newsflash: it’s hardly a popular choice to grossly objectify women at a concert at Bryn Mawr. But the Extreme Keys handled the situation admirably, quickly apologizing for the content (which they hadn’t been made aware of in advance) and allowing the show to move on. They didn’t let the uncomfortable moment ruin the spirit of the evening, which really encapsulated some of my favorite things about Bryn Mawr: our proximity to and cooperation with a number of other institutions, our vast creativity, and our desire to make a change in the world.