STORY BY MADISON OTTENBACHER
A cappella offers more to students than simply music. It offers a community.
Fermata the Blue is a coed a cappella group composed of approximately 20 members at Drake University founded in September of 2013.
Maura Grace, a senior music education major and theater minor, cofounded Fermata the Blue.
Grace currently serves as the group’s president and music director.
As a music education major at Drake, Grace expressed how she wanted to be involved in something that was fun again.
She wanted to do the thing that made her fall in love with music in the first place.
“In college it (singing) used to be a hobby, and now it’s academics,” Grace said. “That kind of took a lot of the fun out of it for me.”
Jessica Richter, a sophomore majoring in music with an emphasis in business, expressed similar feelings.
“I always wanted to be in an a cappella group,” Richter said.
Richter didn’t think she would be able to be involved in one because the only a cappella group at that time were the Brocal Chords, a male a cappella group on Drake’s campus.
However, during her first year, Richter heard about a new a cappella group starting up on campus.
Richter described Fermata the Blue as a class that everyone wants to be involved in.
Being coed isn’t the only thing that sets Fermata the Blue apart from other student organizations on campus.
The group’s music is entirely arranged by its own members.
This way everything is specifically catered toward the group’s individual members.
Richter expressed her enthusiasm toward Fermata the Blue because they are open to all students, all majors and all ages.
“We seriously take pride in the fact that any major, any interest (can be in the group). We are not looking for any specific kind of trait,” Richter said.
“We just want passion, we want determination and people who want to sing.”
Since the group has members who come from a variety of backgrounds, some members don’t know how to read music.
Grace explained how the group goes about everything in a different way, such as how they look at music and how they conduct rehearsals.
“It’s just a totally different learning process and we’ve really pushed people,” Grace said. “I think everyone is a better musician because of it.”
Alex Tillinghast, a first year music education major at Drake, expressed how Fermata the Blue plays an important role in his life.
“A cappella music specifically is made in a way that it can’t work without everyone,” Tillinghast said. Every single part is important to make something that’s worth presenting.”
“It gives you a place. It gives you that satisfaction of creating something, which is something that I think we all search for. Being a part of a community. It’s fun to say I created this. We created this together and it wouldn’t have worked without me.”
Grace continues to see the group make progress.
“Our first year we had 40 people come out, and last year we had about 80 people. We had a lot of people show up [for auditions], and it’s a group of 18,” Grace said. “We can actually see milestones happening.”
As Grace approaches graduation, she is confident that Fermata the Blue will continue to grow and improve.
Grace is anxious yet excited to pass the baton off to the future musicians of Fermata the Blue and see where the group will go in the future.
“Seeing it all come to life has been really rewarding,” Grace said. “I’d say this has been my greatest accomplishment at Drake.”