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Newtones set the tone for Acafest

By Leigh Alon
Published: April 2009

For the fifth year in a row, Acafest has been a huge success, leaving many a cappella fans humming Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean for possibly the rest of their lives.

The event, hosted by Newton South’s a cappella group, the Newtones, included performances by collegiate a cappella groups as well as the Newtones themselves.

Attendees were able to enjoy the UMASS Vocal Suspects, the MIT Chorallaries and Emerson’s Noteworthy.
All proceeds went to VH1′s Save the Music foundation, an organization which provides musical instruments for American public schools, providing underprivileged children with the opportunity to experience the wonder of music.

Every year, a Newtones member is given the task of overseeing the organization of Acafest.
This year, the task fell to junior Maya Lee-Parritz, who researched and contacted all the collegiate performers. She could not have done it alone.

“Parents also contributed a large amount of time and money into making Acafest all it could be, senior Newtones member Emily Weinrebe said.

In addition to administrative preparation, the Newtones rehearsed “every day for four hours for two weeks in order to perfect the music and choreography, senior Newtones member Madeline Sharton said.
Even with hours upon hours of planning and rehearsal, the Newtones could not avoid a near disaster the very day of Acafest.

Because of administrative complications, the Newtones found out that they were not legally allowed to hold the event.

“Officially, Newtones is a club separate from South. Therefore, we can’t use the auditorium for free, we need more administrators present, and the list goes on, senior Newtones musical director David Broyles said. However, the Newtones pulled through in the end, and were able to keep Acafest alive.

After bouncing back from a few setbacks, the Newtones managed to host the event, capturing the audience through great music, and humor.

“Can’t help but love the rendition of ‘ËœUmbrella,’ Weinrebe said. The popular song “Umbrella was performed by Emerson’s Noteworthy, who got the crowd going with their creative twist on the familiar melody.

In addition, the audience could not help but laugh at the quirky lyrics and choreography that accompanied the MIT Chorallaries’ “Engineer Drinking Song.

As for their own best song, the Newtones unanimously agreed that “Billie Jean by Michael Jackson was their favorite song. Arranged by their vocal percussionist, senior Jonah David, and learned only a few weeks in advance, the Newtones had been very wary of even including the song in the show.

“Luckily, we kicked ourselves into high gear and were able to get the song down and perform it confidently. It’s such a fun song and undoubtedly a crowd pleaser, Weinrebe said.

The Newtones were pleased with the song’s surprising success. As a group, they hold themselves to a very high standard of excellence and were very critical of their overall performance.

“There is still a lot we need to work on before we perform again or record, but overall we were alright, Sharton said.  

Broyles, on the other hand, believes that the Newtones could have done much better,
“The entertainment value was above average, but the singing quality was fairly low for my personal standards, Broyles said.

After Acafest’s many laughs, surprises, and mishaps, the Newtones closed the night with an emotional goodbye to the departing seniors, for whom this was their last major Newtones performance.
“Newtones has been a huge part of my life during each year at South. It is going to be difficult to leave it behind, and it is very weird to think that that was my last¦ major performance with the group, Sharton said.

Weinrebe is also having a hard time imagining life without Newtones rehearsals, and will never forget all she has learned from the group.

For Broyles, the harsh reality hasn’t really hit yet. “Once it’s done, though, I’ll feel it. All of the seniors have spent countless hours for the group. Newtones has shaped my high school experience…I will never forget that, Broyles said.

Although the Newtones are sad to be moving on without their seniors, they and the other performing groups certainly achieved their goal.

Just about every audience member walked out of the auditorium with a smile that night. The Newtones managed to raise over 1500 dollars for Save the Music.

Acafest has served as one of South’s great musical traditions for many years,sharing the joy of high school and college a cappella.

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