A cappella queens

Members of UB's Royal Pitches live out their passion for music at UB

Mary Noack, a sophomore exercise science major, doesn't believe she has the competitive drive to become a famous singer. But her involvement with UB's female a cappella group has earned her a spot on stage preceding President Obama's speech at UB and gigs across the Buffalo community.

Noack is the musical director of the Royal Pitches. The 16 members of the group seek to spread positive vibes across UB through random singing sessions, benefits and entertainment concerts and various gigs on and off campus. The Pitches stand out on campus, as an all-women's singing group without Student Association affiliation, according to Noack.

Dennis Black, the vice president of University Life and Services, believes the Pitches are a valuable organization at UB. He cited the group's musical presentation at summer orientation and its national anthem performance at President Obama's visit.

The Pitches' latest performance was a holiday music video UB funded.

"As a university, we certainly use video regularly now to promote UB, to make people aware of UB issues and events, to share news, etc.," Black said in an email.

In December, the Pitches filmed a holiday music video at the Mansion on Delaware, a historic hotel on Buffalo's Delaware Avenue. For two weeks, members of the group practiced daily to perfect their arrangement. Balancing their vocal parts and pronouncing their vowels properly became their world for those weeks.

The group, dressed in royal blue, performed "Sleigh Ride" for the video, which took three hours to film.

From performing at the Mansion on Delaware to hanging out with her community of fellow singers, Noack found a home with the Pitches. In eighth grade, she and her friends attended a Buffalo Chips concert. She fell in love with UB's male a cappella group and knew she wanted to be part of something similar in college.

"If I couldn't be a Chip, I may as well have become a Royal Pitch," Noack said. "I've been singing since forever. My oldest sister is a vocal major and music teacher, so she paved the way for the rest of us to be musically inclined."

Now, Noack practices twice per week with the Pitches and is with the friends she's made in the group daily.

She becomes relaxed and removed from the stresses of tests and schoolwork when she's singing, she said.

The group has performed at local events including the Break the Cycle Bike-athon, SPCA Leadership Donor Appreciation Event and Young Women in Harmony a cappella Workshop, according to member Raquel Sosnovich, a sophomore communication and social sciences interdisciplinary major.

Sosnovich joined the Pitches during her freshman year.

"Joining the Pitches was a way for me to continue doing what I love in college," Sosnovich said. "We meet twice a week for two to three hours in preparation for our concerts and local gigs. I love being in the Royal Pitches because it is an amazing group of talented girls who share the same passion."

One of Sosnovich's favorite group experiences was making the holiday video for UB. She said working with a professional crew and filming at a local mansion gave her a behind-the-scenes filmmaking experience she couldn't have gotten elsewhere.

With its increasing presence on campus - and online - the group is also expanding its membership. With 16 members, the group is the largest it has been in a few years. Noack said many girls who they didn't want to turn away auditioned, so the group accepted more than their usual number.

The Pitches perform two shows per semester, featuring "happy-go-lucky" songs, according to Noack.

Mary Connors, a freshman undecided major, said performing for an audience is exhilarating.

"We really feed off the crowd's energy," Connors said. "And we feel most like a unified whole when performing for an audience."

The group's end-of-semester show will take place May 3.

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