The Virginian-Pilot
                             THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT 
              Copyright (c) 1996, Landmark Communications, Inc.

DATE: Friday, May 3, 1996                    TAG: 9605030046
                                             LENGTH: Long  :  130 lines


A CAPPELLA singing groups have been a part of the University of Virginia since Mr. Jefferson was around to join in.

For a couple of centuries, this activity was pretty tame and traditional.

These days, however, the Wahoos get more than three-part harmony and cool guys in suits. Male members of groups like New Dominions dress in female bathing suits and dance before moving into their a cappella act. The all-male Hullabahoos perform in bathrobes.

The groups - and their antics - have become the hottest and hippest phenomenon on campus.

The tradition of the a cappella groups comes from the old days when glee clubs at all-male colleges sang around campus without music. The University of Virginia is now home to six a cappella groups, three all male, two all female and one co-ed group, that have brought a cappella singing smack into the '90s

Because all they need are their voices, the a cappella groups perform all over campus for dormitories, sororities and benefit concerts.

The all-male groups tend to be very popular among the women at U.Va.

Senior Mark Stancil, president of the all-male Academical Village People, admitted that one of the reasons they sing is to ``curry the favor of the fairer sex.''

``In the fall of 1993, a bunch of guys got together and, upon realizing that none of them had been on a date in quite a while, decided to do something about it,'' explains the inside cover of AVP's latest CD.

``We don't take ourselves too seriously, which allows room for us to make our performances fun,'' Stancil said.

Group members Wes Diddle and Tom Nassif like to engage the audience.

``We pick songs that people would sing in the shower,'' said Diddle, a freshman from Knoxville, Tenn., who just joined AVP last semester.

``That way the audience knows the song, and we can make them feel like they are with us on stage,'' added Tom Nassif, a senior from Northern Virginia.

The Hullabahoos (or ``BahHoos'') are an all-male a cappella group formed in 1988.

The group combined U.Va.'s nickname, ``Wahoos'' with hullabaloo, which defines a loud and confused noise, and came up with Hulla-bahoos.

``We all want to be rock stars, but this is the closest we will ever get,'' said Nick Taylor, a sophomore Californian member of the Hulla-bahoos.

Junior John Stanzione said membership in the group is for more than the music.

``The greatest thing that I have gotten out of the Hullabahoos hasn't been musical at all - it's been my 12 best friends,'' explained Stanzione, a junior from Newport News.

The Hullabahoos not only sing songs like ``Sexual Healing'' by Marvin Gaye but also do a stand-up comedy routine.

In a concert last fall, they did a ``blues skit'' in which they asked audience members to write down something that makes them sad. The members of the group then improvised blues songs with some of the audience's topics.

``We know what we do is not serious, so we milk it for all it's worth,'' said Chris Hawkins, a junior from Newport News.

For all the Hullabahoos' performances, the members wear their own unusual robes.

On the more traditional end of the male a cappella groups are the Virginia Gentlemen. Their name describes the style of the group - gentlemanly. Members wear bow ties, white collared shirts, jackets, and khakis for performances. Their big hit at the university is Simon and Garfunkel's ``Cecilia.''

The Virginia Gentlemen, or VG's, began in 1953 as an extension of the Virginia Glee Club.

``We get our name from the original Honor Code established at the University of Virginia that stated, `All students must be gentlemen,' '' said Denis McNamara, a senior graduate student from Long Island, N.Y.

The group often receives invitations to perform off campus.

``We have a reputation that we can go sing pretty much for everybody. One week we sang for the sororities and the next week we were hired to go on a cruise ship to the south Caribbean, where the audience was predominantly senior citizens,'' said Matthew Bosher, a senior from Richmond.

It's not just the women at U.Va. who are swooning over the a cappella groups. Men have equal opportunity to fall in love with either the Sil'hooettes or the Virginia Belles, two all-female a cappella groups at the university.

The Belles, formed in 1978, wear black skirts or pants and jewel colored tops for their performances. They perform songs about strong women like ``She Works Hard for the Money.''

The New Dominions, nicknamed the New Do's, are the only co-ed a cappella group at U.Va.

``You name it, we sing it, and if you arrange it, we'll sing it,'' said Kelly Smith, a junior New Dominion from Fredericksburg.

Their latest arrangement is the Red Hot Chili Peppers' ``Suck My Kiss.''

Not only will the New Do's sing anything but they also will pretty much do anything. Their last concert began with the men in the group entering the stage wearing female bathing suits and pretending to be the Olympic female water ballet team.

``We get a fuller sound because of the range we have,'' said John Duncan, a senior member from Northern Virginia, explaining the advantages of being co-ed. ``That (range) gives us a lot more variety in the songs we do.''

The opportunity to sing is only one attraction to the group. ``I wanted to get involved in a social group, but I did not want to go Greek. A cappella groups are a great social group to join,'' said Julie Bowers, a junior from Williamsburg.

``I had never been in a performing group before (the New Dominions), so this is all new, and I have ten times the music appreciation as before,'' said Greg Montero, a senior New Do from Chesapeake.

Many of the a cappella group members say fame isn't one of their goals. However, many of the groups have a national audience. All of the groups have produced more than one compact disc, and some of the groups are working on new CDs.

``We are very proud that our album was nominated for one of the best men's a cappella groups,'' said Kevin Ritz, a junior Virginia Gentleman from Memphis, Tenn.

After being featured singers for the national anthem at a U.Va. basketball game, the Hullabahoos went pro and sang the anthem for a San Antonio Spurs basketball game in Texas on March 14.

AVP has sold more than 500 copies of its most recent CD, ``Hoos Your Daddy.''

Explaining why she thinks that the a cappella groups are so popular at U.Va., Danette Wolpert, a freshman from Miami, Fla., said: ``Their performances are lively and fun. They definitely create a sense of union among all university students.''

Tobi Ensio, a freshman from Tucson, said: ``The a cappella groups are one of the things that I love most about this university. They really give it personality.'' ILLUSTRATION: Color photo


Jennifer Bond, right, leads the New Dominions in rehearsal. The New

Do's are the only co-ed group among U.Va.'s six a cappella singing


by CNB