Heart Song

A Cappella Lives at UM

By Lizzie Wilcox

February 2019

Twenty students singing together in perfect harmony. No drums, piano, guitar or instrument of any kind. Their voices are the only sound they need.

This is BisCaydence, one of the University of Miami’s three a cappella groups. Established in 2011, the group brings together some of the top vocal talents on campus.

Popularized by the movie series “Pitch Perfect,” there is more to a cappella than just singing. Auditions for BisCaydence include range testing, sight reading and harmony improv. Most members join as freshmen, hearing about the organization through friends or via a performance at orientation.

While BisCaydence was the first whack at a cappella for some, Artistic Director (and music-major junior) Christina Martino is a veteran. “I did a cappella in high school, so I was pretty sure I wanted to do a cappella in college,” she says. “When I heard BisCaydence sing I was like, ‘Okay, this is a cool group that I want to be a part of.’”

Christina Martino (front left) is an a cappella veteran

Anna Park, co-music director and classical voice major, joined because it allows her to explore music in another way. “It’s so different from what I do in school. I’m finding ways to connect what I learn [in class] and what we do here,” the junior says.

Students don’t have to be in the Frost School of Music to join BisCaydence, but they must be students – BisCaydence is entirely run by them. “I kind of wanted an outlet to be able to sing and be musical, but not have it be the absolute focus of my life,” says Jess Calvero, a public relations major.

The group performs both on and off campus. They performed in November at the Betsy A Cappella Festival Showcase on South Beach, and before that at Au Rene Theatre in Broward. “My personal favorite was [my] freshman year when we opened for Jay Leno,” says Co-Business Manager Michael French.

When I heard BisCaydence sing, I was like, ‘Okay, this is a cool group that I want to be a part of…

Christina Martino, Art Director

Last year the group made it to the semifinals of the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA) South, after winning a slew of awards at the quarterfinal competition. But those mattered less than the exhilaration, says Martino. “It was more of the feeling after we got off the stage. Everyone was just… electric.”

With a repertoire that includes hits like “Focus” by Ariana Grande, “No Air” by Jordan Sparks and Chris Brown, and a mashup of “Feelings” by Maroon 5 and “American Boy” by Estelle, the group is preparing for this year’s ICCAs. They will compete in the South Quarterfinals on Feb. 10 at University High School in Orlando.

“There’s something about singing together with all these voices,” says Martino. “There’s this vibration that everyone feels and it’s just so energizing.”