GFS A Cappella members Caryn Miller '13 and Pedro Ramos '14 ham it up during the group's final medley at the Fest on Saturady, February 4, 2012. Photo by Adam Slawek '13.

by Michaela Reitano, GFS Class of 2014

Last weekend, Germantown Friends School hosted “A Cappella Fest,” the much-anticipated annual music festival showcasing close-harmony singing groups from local schools. A total of nine groups performed over two nights, each taking the stage to reveal the songs they had been working on since the beginning of the school year to a packed auditorium of family and friends.

At the Friday Preview concert, the roster included the GFS Middle School A Cappella, The Baldwin B-Flats, The University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Pipers and GFS A Cappella, the only group to perform both nights. Highlights included the Baldwin B-Flats, who exhibited an impressive unity and stage presence on numbers like “Fidelity” by Regina Spektor and “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree” by KT Tunstall, and the Penn Pipers, a male subset of the Penn Glee Club from the University of Pennsylvania, who performed many Barber Shop- and Doo-wop-style songs that showcased their amazing sound and command of the music. The show closed with GFS A Cappella, giving a preview of their Saturday night lineup.

Saturday’s Festival — the main event — did not disappoint. The first group to perform was the Quakers Dozen from Penn Charter, which sang songs by a diverse group of artists, including “Esto Les Digo” by Kinley Lange and “It Don’t Have to Change” by John Legend.

The Dozen did a complete 180 with their last number, “We Found Love” by Rihanna/Calvin Harris, which was a departure in tone from the beginning of their set. The song was cleverly staged, and the audience really enjoyed the high-tempo performance.

The Chamber Singers of SCH Academy (a combination of the Laurelai and the Hilltones) followed, performing together as well as separately. There was a sweet contrast between the low voices of the Hilltones and the higher voices of the Laurelai. Each group impressed the audience with their passionate sound.

GFS A Cappella came next, performing a variety of songs ranging from “I’ll Be Waiting” by Adele to “Short Skirt/Long Jacket” by CAKE to “Jai Ho” by A.R. Rahman. The group, which was just nominated for four Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards (including Best High School Album for The Blue and White Album), had a high-powered, dynamic sound and great stage presence. The highlight of their set was a choreographed medley that featured “A History of Rejection” and “If I Had a Million Dollars” by the Barenaked Ladies, which morphed into “Can’t Buy Me Love” by the Beatles.

After GFS A Cappella, Penn’s Off the Beat took the stage and astonished the audience with their jaw-dropping dynamics and sheer ability. Each member impressed with his or her amazing voice.

The last act of the night was JD Walter, a phenomenal jazz singer who used special equipment to record himself live on stage and then used those recordings, which sounded like a live band playing behind him, to sing A Cappella. His performance left the crowd cheering and marked the end to yet another unbelievable A Cappella Fest.