Singing without instrumental accompaniment is like walking through the woods without following a marked path: It can be done, but it's not easy.
Friday, The Royal Pitches showed they don't need a guide to find harmony.
The all-female a cappella group's Fall Concert, held at the Center for the Arts, departed from their normal renderings of R & B and contemporary songs in favor of a CD-release-party theme. The women gathered onstage and prepared for the arrival of their "guests."
They began with popular hits "Doesn't Really Matter," by Janet Jackson and Destiny's Child's "Independent Woman," as well as tunes by Madonna, Bjork and a popular song from the Broadway play "Rent," "Seasons of Love".
Their renditions were crisp and fun. Ensemble members used their mouths as cymbals, drums or whatever was needed to keep the beat.
While they continued to prepare for their party and guests, the women's laughter and camaraderie were infectious. They welcomed the audience into the show, chatting and highlighting their performance with a "Best Moonwalker" contest, an addition to their Michael Jackson medley.
Erin Gellert played master of ceremonies, her charisma and energy keeping the show moving forward and avoiding the drudgery student recitals can often invoke. To close the concert Gellert performed a beautiful, tear-jerking rendition of Sarah McLachlan's "Angel" for fellow ensemble member Emily DeMeritt, who will soon graduate from the group.
The ensemble has grown over the past few years, but each member seems to leave the group with fond memories, as evidenced by several former members' return to the stage. Many of the Pitches' alumnae displayed considerable maturation of their singing skills.
The ensemble had developed a loyal following of friends, family members and local fans. Sue Karaszewski, a new fan who was accompanied Friday by her three children and husband, spoke highly of the ensemble.
"I think it's very enjoyable. ... We got a mailing - they performed last year for my daughter's Girl Scouts troop, and my husband really enjoyed them - so when we got the thing in the mail, he said we have to go," said Karaszewski.