By Claire Oxford
La Caccina, a Chicago-based all-female a cappella group covering a wide range of genres, paused before beginning their first song on Saturday night, to look out at the packed audience.
Carling Fitzsimmons ’11, one of the founders of Kenyon’s Colla Voce, had returned to her alma mater to perform with the group. Beaming out at the audience in Brandi Recital Hall, she said, “This is so great.”
Fitzsimmons, Caroline Eichle, Joanna Tomassoni and Amanda Plunkett — graduates of the Class of 2011 — founded Colla Voce during their senior years at Kenyon. Fitzsimmons and Eichle later moved to Chicago and formed La Caccina, a treble ensemble with an eclectic repertoire and range of vocals. Saturday’s show marked the group’s first performance at the College. “I’ve been bugging Doc and Professor Buehrer for, like, years about, ‘Oh, can we come back? Let us come back!’” Fitzsimmons said referring to Professor of Music Ben “Doc” Locke and Professor of Music Dane Heuchemer. “And this year Doc was finally like, ‘Sure, you can come; how about late January?’”
With a selection of music spanning languages, cultures and genres, La Caccina captivated a capacity crowd in Brandi. Songs such as “Java Jive,” a jazzy, sassy piece punctuated by moments of humor and personality, contrasted with moving, traditional arrangements such as “Job, Job,” an African-American spiritual ballad.
One of the most engaging aspects of La Caccina’s performance was their inclusion of Colla Voce’s current members in the show. Colla Voce opened the night performing two songs, and also joined La Caccina in a surprise closing rendition of “The Parting Glass.” La Caccina conducted a master class with Colla Voce and Männerchor earlier that day, offering specific feedback on songs and advice on how to pursue a passion for music after graduation.
After performing alongside La Caccina, Lauren Melville ’17 said she and fellow members of Colla Voce were energized about the future of their relatively young Kenyon a cappella group. “‘Inspiring’ is so cheesy, but listening to how amazing they are makes us think of our potential, so we all left really excited and optimistic about the group,” she said.
For Fitzsimmons, the performance was particularly meaningful. She described her feelings as she took the stage with La Caccina: “It suddenly dawned on me that the people who had launched me on my career — the people who were the most important people to impress — were going to be in the audience and watching, and it was a moment of very intense pride when I brought my ensemble out on stage, but also of, ‘Oh my gosh, this is important.’”