For the first time in two years the high school’s four a cappella groups, alongside guest group Duly Noted from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, gathered to perform at Acastock on March 25 and 26. The first night was sold out, with crowds gathering to watch sets of songs performed by each group. 

Students, families, and community members packed the auditorium to watch student groups return to what they love after a long hiatus.

All high school a cappella groups are audition only, and there is a requirement to be a part of the choral program in order to audition. Auditions are for both singing and beatboxing. Group pictured: Renegade A Cappella. Photo by Elizabeth Hoerter. 

Nora Jarquin ’22, one of two music leaders for a cappella group Ladies First, described Acastock’s return. 

“The best part of Acastock has to be the very moment before we perform and the very moment after. Before, there’s an adrenaline rush and you feel the presence of the audience as you walk on stage. It’s thrilling to have the whole performance in front of you,” said Jarquin. 

The crowd also felt this thrill, cheering for their peers and family members as they performed. Following COVID-19, this performance showed an eagerness to relish community from performers and families alike. 

“For all but four seniors who were in Acastock their freshman year, this is every [student’s] first Acastock,” said Jarquin. 

Performers have prepared for months, meeting after school for hours to rehearse. 

“We prepare by having rehearsals twice a week for two hours and then three in the week or two before the concert. We have rehearsals with the tech, whisper singing to work on blend, and potlucks for bonding. It’s always busy but very exciting before a concert,” said Jarquin. 

The friendly bonds between singers were clear in the encouragement and lively atmosphere. Several audience members made signs to support their friends, and each group cheered for each other after their performance.

Acastock has a tradition of inviting college a cappella groups to perform, and this year’s guests certainly impressed concert-goers. UMass Amherst’s all-gender a cappella group, Duly Noted, earned a standing ovation after their performance which included “Bust the Windows” by Jazmine Sullivan and “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley.  Duly Noted’s goal is to “share [their] passions with UMass, the commonwealth of Massachusetts, and all who care to listen,” according to their website.

Laura Langman, Duly Noted’s music director, performs a solo. Photo by Elizabeth Hoerter.

Outside the auditorium, students and parents from Hardy Elementary fundraised for the ongoing Ukraine-Russia war by handing out blue and yellow peace sign pins in exchange for donations. Parents and fifth grade students from Hardy Elementary greeted guests outside of the auditorium with hand painted blue and yellow signs, and ushered people towards a table with a QR code and donation box. A Ukrainian flag and a sign saying “слава україні”, meaning “glory to Ukraine”, hung behind the students. Guests walked around with peace signs pinned to their shirts after donating to show support for peace and the people of Ukraine after Russia’s invasion. Parents of Performing Students representatives were there as well, collecting donations for Wellesley programs.

Evie, Val, and Addy (pictured left to right), all fifth graders at Hardy Elementary, waited to offer guests peace sign pins for donations. Some students hoping to fundraise waited with parents near the high school entrance, directing them to the donation table. Photo by Elizabeth Hoerter.

Especially after the impacts of COVID-19, the high school’s performing arts program has dwindled in numbers. This year, choral teachers asked students to spread the word and have their friends come to Acastock, hoping to boost enrollment for next year. 

“Of course, parents and families come, but this year we’ve put a huge emphasis on getting our peers to come and enjoy our music. We’re super excited to have so many peers come [this year],” Jarquin said.

Members of the Wellesley community certainly enjoyed Acastock’s return, including those involved in the performance. 

“[It’s] the feeling of pure joy, feeling in the moment, so fulfilled and proud. There’s nothing like it. The rest of the world fades away and it’s just you, your group, and the music,” said Jarquin. 

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