Heavenly harmonies and voluptuous vocals abounded on Saturday night in Kennedy Hall’s Call Auditorium as the Chordials delighted a packed house with Cocktail Hour X. While audience members from last semester’s Crunkapella recognized standards such as Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars” and “This is How a Heart Breaks,” they were also treated to new tunes like American Idol Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats,” as well as special performances by ten years of Chordials alumni. Showcasing a unique sound, engaging choreography, and a playfully contagious sense of humor, Cocktail Hour X continued to set the Chordials apart as one of Cornell’s premiere a cappella ensembles.
Senior James Cannon opened the performance with a forceful rendition of Rob Thomas’ “This is How a Heart Breaks,” threatening instead to break the speakers with a powerful, throaty sound. Kris Canlas ’08 managed to heat up the auditorium even more with her sexy and sultry “Waiting For You.” While Melissa Ireland ’08 and Miatta Labile ’08 amazed the audience with passionate solo performances, Sharri Zamore ’07 used her final Cocktail Hour as an hour to shine. Zamore’s “Mercy on Me” garnered a standing ovation as her voice ranged from a slow, seductive quality to an all-out aural assault which showcased her emotionally-resonant powerhouse vocal ability. Closing out the set, senior Tess Brandon’s airy soprano brought an absorbed hush over the auditorium before the group erupted in a high-paced, foot-stomping version of the African-American spiritual “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.”
Other highlights of the evening’s entertainment included a performance of “The Circle of Life,” the song that helped the Chordials take third place in the 2004 International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella finals, a monumental step on the group’s path to a cappella prominence. Another key achievement came this year, as the group’s recording of Nickelback’s “Photograph” earned them a track on the Best of College A Cappella 2007 CD, a compilation of outstanding a cappella recordings from across the country. “Photograph” can be found on the Chords’ newest album Arrival, released at Cocktail Hour X and available for purchase now.
While rousing vocal performances have become mainstays of Chordials shows, this performance offered a more tender glimpse into the members’ personal lives. As anyone in a performing group at Cornell knows, that group often becomes a member’s personal life. Nowhere was this more evident than in the Chordials’ heartfelt goodbyes to seniors Brandon, Cannon, Zamore, and Dane Williams. Praising their devotion to the group, leadership abilities, and supernatural musicianship, the younger Chords made sure the soon-to-be alumni understood their value to the group and revealed to the audience just how much strong the Chordials’ sense of family has become.
As seniors move on and an incoming set of freshmen nervously audition to enter the often-harrowing world of Cornell a cappella, the Chordials find themselves in a unique position. Chordials alto/mezzo Ariel Arbisser ’10, stated the group’s uncertainty about next year, saying that “I don’t think any group can lose as many gifted performers and loved friends as we are and feel completely confident in what’s to come.” But as the Chordials continue to gain acclaim and national recognition, Arbisser is hopeful that the group will see “an even larger pool of talented auditionees at the beginning of fall semester than previously.”
Regardless of next year’s talent pool, this reviewer is confident that the Chordials are sure to continue their now decade-old tradition of quirky, engaging, and original music presented with a flair and passion unmatched on our campus.
Copies of the Chordials’ new album Arrival can be purchased at the Cornell Store, online at www.chordials.com, or from any group member.