International House to host A Capella concert


Global Voices Fellow

For the University of Chicago a capella group, Voices in Your Head (Voices), a new academic year brings with it new opportunities to amaze crowds locally, nationally, and internationally. On Friday, Dec. 1, International House will be welcoming the undergraduate group for their annual fall quarter showcase. According to the group’s music director Will Cabaniss, who has been a member of Voices for four years, Voices is hoping to “broaden the horizons of not only who we’re showing our work to but also what our work means to people” this year.

From performing at the White House to touring states throughout the U.S., Voices in Your Head has been able to engage with people from various backgrounds who share an interest in music while also serving as role models to younger singers. During their spring concert last year, Voices featured a high school a capella group from DeKalb High School, Enharmonic Fusion, that they met during a competition. Voices plans to further strengthen and expand their reach through future collaborations with groups at the high school and college level. Just a few weeks ago, Voices performed with a capella groups from Northwestern (Purple Haze), Washington University in St. Louis (Stereotypes), and Notre Dame (Half Time) during Northwestern’s annual fall a capella invitational, Best of the Midwest. Even within the University of Chicago community, Voices has been able to make an impact and interact with other music-related student groups and music forums on campus. For Will, more collaborations with the musical and artistic community on campus is also an important part of the group’s future goals.

Over the past twenty years, Voices has managed to build up a unique culture of undergraduate students passionate about music and determined to be the best they can be. This development starts from as early as students’ first week of college. Auditions are held during the first week of the school year. After auditions and a separate day of singing and socializing with current members to assess fit, the decisions are made. By the first weekend of the academic year, students know whether or not they are in. As Will commented, “People who get into the group their first year don’t ever really experience what college is like without Voices.” The process makes Voices an unquestionably close-knit musical and social community. For its members, Voices is more than a social outlet. It provides a space for them to work with each other through focused and structured rehearsals to create impactful performances for people and, in Will’s words, “achieve something really great.”

During the upcoming performance at International House on December 1st, attendees will surely notice the group’s iconic colored tights and ties. Why the distinct attire? The colors serve a dual purpose: they are a personal symbol for the members of Voices and a memorable visual effect for the audience. To the public, it is a cohesive visual presence that sets Voices apart and allows them to present themselves to the world as a unit. For Voices, however, it is another element of their community. Each member is presented a unique color when they first join the group and are paired with an older member who wears the same color and serves as their mentor. The tradition originated in 2009 and has continued on successfully through generations of Voices members ever since.

During the fall quarter concert, audiences can expect to hear a mix of new and old music and original songs as they perform arrangements that “step outside the bounds of what people think when they go and hear an a capella show,” according to Will. By presenting cohesive, relatable performances through recognizable melodies, guiding themes, and lyrics with universal appeal, Voices has been able to create a formidable legacy. The group plans to celebrate that legacy and history later in the academic year with a special anniversary performance featuring alumni and guest groups.

The Voices in Your Head performance will take place on Friday, Dec. 1, at 7:30 p.m. in the International House Assembly Hall, 1414 E. 59th Street. This event is open to the public; tickets are $5 and will be sold at the door.

This event is co-sponsored by the International House Global Voices Performing Arts and Lecture Series. For more information about other Global Voices events and co-sponsorship opportunities, or for persons with disabilities who may require assistance, please contact Mary Beth DeStefano at 773-753-2274 or