Shenandoah Valley Children’s Choir is bringing harmony to Harrisonburg today with its third annual Shenandoah Valley Sing-In.
A cappella, an Italian term that translates to “in the manner of the chapel,” is a traditional choral style that began with roots in the Jewish and Christian churches.
A capella has been present in the Valley for decades as a core element of the Mennonite church. Pop culture has brought the more obscure genre into the secular limelight with films such as Pitch Perfect and Grammy-award winning group Pentatonix.
“The word a capella means something now that it didn’t mean then. A lot of people have sung a capella for centuries. It’s a little longer of a tradition for most of us,” Jeremy Nafziger, member of participating group Cantore, said.
Cantore has attended each sing-in and will perform a 19th century hymn arrangement, a six-part Kenyan piece and bluegrass tonight.
Other participating groups include Note-oriety, The Madison Project, Low Key and The BluesTones from James Madison University; the Eastern Mennonite University Chamber Singers and Christians Hoos Exalt and The Harmonious Hoos from University of Virginia. Women’s group Shekinah and barbershop quartet group Vintage Mix will also be performing alongside the collegiate teams.
Harmonious Hoos, founded nine years ago, is a new team on the scene that arrives as a first-time participant. Jillian Roberts, president of the a cappella team, said the group has an eccentric style and is eager to meet other artists outside of the Charlottesville area.
“I’m really excited to hear some other groups and see what they’re doing and go somewhere else. I think it’ll be cool to get a sense of another community,” Roberts said.
Previously, the event was a competition with prices for the audience favorite, first- and second-place groups. This year’s event has gotten rid of the ranking element, so all 10 a capella groups are winners and receive a $150 stipend for performing, but the audience can still vote for a favorite team that earns double the cash reward.
Additional acts include the children’s choir, Ben Luna as the returning emcee and Ryan Sill, a 2014 finalist on The Voice from Loudoun County.
Eastern Mennonite University’s Lehman Auditorium is hosting the sing-in from 7 to 10 p.m. Admission is $20 for adults and $15 for students. The funds benefit the children’s choir, which provides performing instruction to the Valley’s youth.