MCLA

Singing Standouts

03/09/2011

An acapella group on campus that's well known for bringing MCLA fans to their feet soon will be introduced to a much larger audience when they participate in public television station WGBY's upcoming series, Together in Song: A Celebration of Choral Music in Western New England.

The Allegrettos' performance in the singing competition will air on Saturday, March 19, at 8:30 p.m. as part of the show's premiere, which begins at 8 p.m.

If selected in the top four among other competing college groups, they will go on to participate as semi-finalists at the Together in Song Chorale Festival and Finale, which will be televised live on April 30 and May 1 from Springfield's Paramount Theater.

The Allegrettos' advisor, MCLA Residence Director Emily Schiavoni, first heard these students as they sang in the lobby outside of her apartment in fall 2009. That semester they decided to form a caroling group and perform as a community service around the campus and for senior citizens living in North Adams.

After that experience, the students came to Schiavoni with the desire to become a campus-wide group. They held their first concert in spring 2010.

According to Schiavoni, the Allegrettos - now about 30 members strong - have created a buzz on campus.

"There is a lot of interest. They had a lot of interest last spring, but they had even more interest this past fall. They held auditions and placed people in the group accordingly. There's a lot of hype around it," she said. "Everyone seems to love them all the time and everyone wants them to sing at all of their events. They are constantly contacted."

Whether they perform traditional gospel or sing mash-ups of Train and Lady Gaga hits, "They're very powerful, with a lot of energy - very well done," said Schiavoni. "They do everything from really popular songs to low-key ones."

Juwonni Cottle '13, the Allegrettos' president, musical director and co-creator, wants the group to make a statement in the competition.

"I want people to realize the caliber to which we work and not only love us for it, but decide to do what they do better, as well," Cottle said. "The fact that, after just reaching our first year milestone, we can already be a part of something this great makes me feel fantastic."

He attributes the group's popularity to the fact that they work within their means.

"We're simple enough to not explode someone's musical palette, but we're intense enough to get people addicted. Our music has soul. At the end of the day if we've moved the audience, even just a little bit, then we've done our job," Cottle said.

According to Tony Tofani '12, Allegrettos secretary and tenor section leader, the group is popular because they are honest with what they do: They love to sing and they perform songs that complement the group's voices. He said the WGBY competition will showcase the passion they share at MCLA.

"All of us realize what a beautiful thing we have here. I think we all want to make sure that we leave a legacy behind at MCLA," Tofani said.

Cottle's goal for the group is to fill every seat in the Church Street Center. "I want people to plan their schedules around our concerts because they know they'll be amazing. And I honestly think that we're getting there."

For more information, go to www.wgby.org/togetherinsong/index.html.