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The School Newspaper of Cherry Hill High School East

Eastside

The School Newspaper of Cherry Hill High School East

Eastside

East’s Stay Tuned finishes a successful year

On February 24, Stay Tuned, Cherry Hill High School East’s acapella group, achieved a first-place win at the International Championship of High School A Cappella (ICHSA) quarterfinals competition, with Aviv Haroz (‘24) winning best soloist and Everett Garcia (‘24) winning best vocal percussionist for “Alive” by Sia.
“Our most memorable performance would have to be our most recent performance at quarterfinals,” said Jane Herman (‘24), one of Stay Tuned’s two co-officers. “Just because I think it finally solidified how solid of a group we were.”
Their success can largely be captured by one word: harmony.

Acapella is in many ways the art of harmony— each individual voice coming together to build a more complex and beautiful sound. For Stay Tuned, this journey of finding harmony both resonates within their music and their formation of a team.

In 2012, Heather Lockart, the current choral director of Stay Tuned, combined East’s prior all-girls acapella group, Key of She, and East’s all-boys acapella group, Casual Harmony, to establish Stay Tuned— an early sign of the connectedness that Stay Tuned would go on to value for years. With a range of both female and male voices, Lockart believed it would allow for more musical freedom and creativity.

At first, the group was established without a name but they continued to sing and perform as a strong and cohesive group. One day, a vocalist in the group was speaking to Lockart when he expressed interest in finalizing an official name for the choir. The student had told Lockart to “stay tuned” as they would one day figure out a good name for their choir.

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It was at that exact moment that Lockart realized they just found the perfect name.

Today, Stay Tuned performs contemporary acapella and modern pop songs at various competitions throughout the school year. The ensemble has achieved numerous recognitions that have distinguished its name, from winning every ICHSA quarter-final they have competed in, winning many semi-finals, and even qualifying for finals numerous times.

Despite a long history of success, since its establishment in 2012, Stay Tuned has evolved immensely as a vocal group, especially as Lockart’s selection priorities have gradually shifted. The criteria for getting chosen, for example, doesn’t lie solely on talent anymore, but also on character.

“I’m watching their work ethic, I’m watching their treatment of others, I’m watching how they lead, if it’s with their heart or if it’s with their heavy emotions,” said Lockart regarding the selection process.

To Lockart, the character of the vocalist is even more important than their vocal ranges. A student could be the best singer in the world, but if they don’t have the work ethic or the drive to be an open and friendly member of the group, they’ll end up being the weakest member.

Distinguishing character from talent enables Lockart to prioritize the connections between the members of Stay Tuned. Recently, she noted, the group members have engaged and bonded with one another to a greater extent as compared to previous years.

“To create good music you have to have a good connection with the people that you’re in a group with,” said Herman.

Still, Stay Tuned has come a long way to build their bond throughout the year. The vast array of interests and personalities in the group is something that everyone mutually respects about each other, enforcing the powerful dynamic even more.
“I would say at the start of the year we were definitely a little bit distant from each other but as the months have gone on, as we’ve continued working and improving our set, our relationships have also improved with that,” said Natalie Borowsky (‘24), the other co-officer of the group.
The ensemble has especially benefited from frequent bondings throughout the year that enable members to form deeper connections with one another. But even without these bondings, Lockart said that group members practically see each other more often than their own families during competition season, with in-school rehearsals spanning anywhere from three to ten hours during the week of the competition.

Beyond this though, the arrangements and choreography in Stay Tuned’s performances are often more complex, requiring much more thought and planning than the other small vocal groups at East.
After many weeks—and sometimes months—of deliberating which arrangements they are going to perform, the group finally begins breaking down the arrangements into parts for each member. Once each member masters their given arrangement, which typically takes several rehearsals, they begin working on the choreography for the set—the compiled collection of songs that the group will perform.
This year, Stay Tuned split up into small teams that each collaborated to create choreography for different songs. Finally, after making minor tweaks and cleaning up the set, Stay Tuned is ready to take the stage for competition.
“It’s awesome to be surrounded by people who just are on the same wavelength as you. The people that you create your music with really do set the standard for your experience,” said Herman.

That may just be the key to their harmony.

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About the Contributor
Alexis Rovner
Alexis Rovner, Eastside Online Opinions Editor
Alexis is this year’s Online Opinions Editor, and is so excited for her first year of board. At East, Alexis plays in the orchestra, participates in Interact Club, Habitat for Humanity, FOP, and more. Outside of Eastside, she loves to dance, play the violin, volunteer, and hang out with friends and family on the weekends. She’s so excited for sophomore year and can’t wait to bond with everyone on the Eastside board!

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