Soulfege a cappella: finding their place on campus

By Amethyst Martinez

Soulfege, an a cappella group from Westminster Choir College, is here to make noise after joining Rider’s campus due to the Princeton campus closure.

The name comes from solfege syllables, which are pitches of the scale. Senior theory and composition major and Soulfege member Charlie Ibsen said, “By just putting a ‘U’ inside of that word, we’re able to make a little pun, which is like a legal requirement for an a cappella group.”

Consisting of 11 members, the group is always accepting new members for their ever-changing tenor bass group.

“We’ve never been over 18 [members] in the past. This semester, given school enrollment and circumstances, we’re down to 11,” said Ibsen.

Craig Peters, junior theory and voice performace major and Soulfege member, said jokingly, “The original group was basically five people, and they’ve sort of been semi coerced into it by each other.”

Soulfege is one of the Westminster Choir College’s a cappella groups who have moved to the Lawrenceville campus.

“The move has absolutely tarnished Westminster’s reputation and made it impossible to get back to the way that enrollment used to be,” said Ibsen. “We have trouble finding tenors and basses because of that, but having a larger student body to pick from means that the theater nerds that wouldn’t want to drive over to Princeton to be in an a cappella group can do that.”

One way that this group is ingraining themselves into Rider culture is performing at Cranberry’s every Friday for the student body.

“It was a point where after last semester we felt we were pretty confident in our sound and ourselves, and we also wanted to push for more, you know, awareness for the group and the other Westminster student choirs out there. And so just thinking of simple things that we could do. We all knew we were free during lunch hour, might as well go somewhere and cause a little chaos, right?” Ibsen joked.

The group also created custom Valentine’s Day musical messages for students to send to their significant others, friends and family. Due to COVID-19, this looked a bit different than it would have in previous years. The group pre-recorded videos to send to the valentines in question and also made phone calls and left voicemail messages, which was a stark difference from the previous years of doing these performances in person.

“It was an astounding success,” said Ibsen.

The group also has an EP titled, “Friend Like Me,” with their trademark animal — the turtle — on the cover.

“We were in a great place when COVID hit, and we didn’t really know what to do with our time,” said Ibsen.

Each member of the group went to the studio individually and recorded their voices, where it was then professionally mastered into a six-song EP with covers of popular songs such as “Watermelon Sugar” by Harry Styles. The EP was released on popular music streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music in 2021.

Overall, Soulfege wants to make its presence known at Rider.

Peters said, “It’s easy for people who have not heard about Soulfege, and potentially people who would be interested in it to have not heard of it. I mean, it’s a place for people who enjoy music, so why not try to find them?”

Ibsen said, “We want to have our own special thing that Soulfege does, even if it’s a little stupid.”

The group is planning new events to mesh more into the community and are always looking for new members on campus to join.

“I want to mesh as loudly as possible,” said Ibsen.

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