February has been a pretty good month for some of Penn State’s a cappella groups. The Coda Conduct won third place in the ICCA 2014 Quarterfinals; Shades of Blue won the Bryce Jordan Center’s Sing-off contest; and now all-female a cappella group, Savoir Faire, will be opening for NBC’s The Sing-Off Live Tour at the Bryce Jordan Center this Friday, Feb. 28. They will also be performing with the tour group March 1st at Theater of Living Arts in Philly
For those who don’t know Savoir Faire, they are the original all-female a cappella group at Penn State. They put together two concerts during the year (one in spring, one in fall), and work hard for each—rehearsing around twice a week for two and a half hours. In the fall, you can find them singing in front of the student book store during home football games, and they most recently opened up for the Mr. Engineering pageant benefitting THON.
I talked to Savoir Faire’s musical director, Dana Cinque, and asked her a few questions about the group and their upcoming performance:
1. How/when did you find out that you would be opening for and performing with The Sing Off Tour? . Over winter break, we were contacted by one of our alumni – her dad is a concert promoter who was helping to put together the Sing-Off tour stop in Philly. She asked us if we were interested in opening as a fun publicity thing, and naturally we freaked out and said yes. Meanwhile, the BJC was trying to have a Penn State a cappella group open for that show. They wanted to have all the groups on campus compete in a miniature sing-off for the opening spot, but I guess the logistics didn’t work out, and when they heard we were in talks for the Philly show, they offered us the gig! The BJC did end up having a virtual sing-off on their Facebook page for free tickets and a meet-and-greet with the performing groups, and Shades of Blue won that. I don’t know if we count as one of the performing groups, which is totally weird because we know a bunch of people in Shades and they’re amazing, but hopefully we’ll get to meet the Sing-Off groups as well!
2. What was your reaction?
When we found out about the Philly show, it was the Saturday after finals, and I have never seen our group text more active – this is the biggest gig we’ve done in years, and everyone is over the moon about it. I didn’t find out about the BJC show until a few weeks into the semester. I woke up to a phone call from the director of marketing at the BJC asking if Savoir Faire wanted to sing at the show, and I was so excited I couldn’t sit down for the next hour!
3. What is your favorite genre of music to cover?
One thing I love about a cappella is that you can take a song, reinvent it, and make it your own. Plenty of amazing artists have done that already, and we’re inspired by artists like Pentatonix, the Gardiner Sisters, and Peter Hollens. We did that with our Titanium cover two semesters ago – we slowed it down a little, changed the dynamics, threw in bits of Bulletproof for funsies, and gave it more of a driving vibe instead of its normal dance feel. It’s one of my favorite arrangements that I’ve done. These days our setlists have been a mix of Top 40 hits, 90s throwbacks, and a ton of Sara Bareilles, but we’re mixing it up more this semester.
4. What is your favorite song that you guys have covered?
You’d get a different answer from everyone in the group, but my favorite Savoir song is Demons by Imagine Dragons. We’re performing it for the shows, and the arrangement takes the song slower and gives the background parts harmonies to important lyrics so you really understand the meaning of the song. When we were fine-tuning it, we would sing it with the lights off so everybody could put their own emotion into it without worrying about what anyone else was doing – and it really made all the difference. I love Demons because we all connect to it in some way, and we’re able to really get into the song and create this amazing energy that makes us even better and reminds us why we love singing.
And in case anyone is wondering what The Sing-Off is, it is a singing competition like American Idol or The Voice, but with a cappella groups. This year’s tour will feature Season Four Winners Home Free and other finalists VoicePlay and The Filharmonic.