A home alongside a rhythm and a pitch
UB student finds a new home amongst The Royal Pitches
After a solo performance at Carnegie Hall in high school and countless involvements in school choirs and drama clubs throughout her education, Raquel Sosnovich, a junior communication and social sciences interdisciplinary major was looking for a way to find her place at UB.
From the time she was 8 years old Sosnovich was attracted to singing, taking after her older sister and aunt’s same talents. Private classical voice lessons, New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) competitions and a membership in the Suffolk County Music Educators Association choir (SCEMEA) only added to her passion. And now, she’s part UB’s Royal Pitches.
Singing is a family and personal hobby, according to Sosnovich, as it has become a major part of who she is today. That was why it was so important for her to find a place to continue that passion when she came to UB.
The Royal Pitches, a singing group, audition potential new members each year; they accept people based on how many seniors will be graduating. In the spring semester of her freshman year, Sosnovich decided to audition as a way to share her love for singing with others.
The Royal Pitches is an all-female a cappella group at UB founded in 1996. A cappella is singing in a group or solo without any instrumental accompaniment. The group is currently comprised of 15 members, according to Jasmin Jacob, a senior speech and hearing science major and member of The Royal Pitches.
After getting accepted, Sosnovich faced a new challenge – singing a cappella. Even with all of her vocal history, Sosnovich had never been a part of an a cappella group.
“When I first joined the Pitches, one of the main challenges I went through was getting used to singing without background music and actually becoming the background music myself,” Sosnovich said.
In group-style a cappella, a few primary vocalists are accompanied by the rest of the group, producing different vocal sounds that create the effect of background music. But singing in the background was not an easy task, according to Sosnovich.
“There are so many different parts to each song that we all have to memorize and that’s on top of following the soloist and remembering the dynamics as well as the choreography,” she said.
The Royal Pitches hold three shows a year, according to Jacob, one show per semester and a special benefit concert with the UB Girl Effect chapter, a group that promotes female education in developing countries. The benefit concert raises money for the national Girl Effect charity.
The Royal Pitches practice new arrangements for each production and learn between five and 10 new songs each semester. The group retires songs after two shows to keep things new. They also have a “senior song” showcase where a graduating senior gets to choose a song to solo while the rest of the group provides the background sound.
“Learning new songs and choreography is constantly an ongoing process,” Jacob said.
Difficult songs may take two or three rehearsals to finalize and will be revisited throughout the semester to keep it polished. As the concert date approaches, the group begins learning the choreography for each song.
Joining The Royal Pitches gave Sosnovich a place to feel at home at UB, she said, and also pushed her outside of her comfort zone.
“I learned how to sing a cappella which was not like anything I’ve ever done before,” Sosnovich said. “I’ve made amazing friends and had the opportunity to sing with them at UB and even throughout Buffalo.”
Jacob, too, found a connection with The Royal Pitches; it keeps her happy.
“It’s my stress relief after a busy week of school and work,” Jacob said. “I love knowing that I will always have an opportunity to hangout with my closest friends while doing something I love – making music.”
Jacob likes the “awesome and creative” aspects the group adds to each song. Her favorite part of being a member is having the opportunity to constantly challenge herself by tackling bigger roles each semester.
“We get to travel and meet people and experience things which are a lot of fun,” Jacob said. “But my absolute favorite part is definitely the girls in the group. We’re all super close and they’re my constant support system.”
Sosnovich enjoys being friends with people that share the same passion as she does.
“Every girl is talented in so many different ways and each bring something different to the group,” Sosnovich said. “I am continuously learning from every single one of them whether it be about music of just about life in general. I am a part of 15 girls that are like my sisters.”
Sovovich and Jacob weren’t the only ones to find their place at UB among The Royal Pitches. Emily Plumm, former president of the Pitches, recently graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in media study and English.
“The Pitches was an amazing experience for me,” Plumm said. “When I first entered the group as a freshman, we were a relatively unknown group on campus … [Now] they hear our name, and they know what we’re about. It’s great to see the group start to make a real tangible impact on campus.”