Severn School’s a cappella group, Breakwater, is making waves this school year.
After releasing their debut album, “Clarity,” in October, Breakwater won first place at the Sing Strong International A Cappella Festival in New York this February. Senior Sophia Amplo also took home the award for Best Soloist thanks to her vocals on “Alive” by Sia.
“Sing Strong was an amazing experience,” Amplo stated. “We all had so much fun and grew closer as a group. I believe what led to our success was that we went in with no expectations.”
Getting to this stage was no easy task. Breakwater started in 2018 under the leadership of music teacher Rob Redei. Since then, the group has evolved and grown, releasing “Clarity” on Spotify.
“There was a lot of work,” Amplo explained. “I know I spent almost two hours recording just my solo and so many takes of the various parts of each song. It took nearly 30 hours total.”
Although their debut album only has three tracks, Breakwater is planning to record and potentially release more songs this spring.
A lot of thought goes into picking which songs to perform. When a singer has a song they think would suit their voice, they submit a solo to be reviewed. Once the song is approved by Redei, the group receives arrangements and spends the next couple of practices perfecting their harmonies. Although Breakwater mostly covers pop songs like “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus and “Location” by Khalid, they have also done country, rap, and some mellow genres as well.
However, anyone who has seen “Pitch Perfect” knows that recording songs and performing them are two different things. While members of Breakwater spend hours honing their respective vocal parts, they also put tons of practice into synchronizing the choreography of each number.
“The group comes up with certain movements that kind of fit the message and emotional meaning of that song,” said junior Ben Campion. “We work our way through the song as a group until we have all the movements mapped out. Then we spend a few weeks perfecting and polishing the choreography before a competition.”
It is only after the choreography is perfected that Breakwater is ready to perform a song.
The whole process takes a lot of practice. The 15 Breakwater members have rehearsals twice a week from 6:30pm to 8:30pm, with many of the performers coming directly from sports practices to sing. Despite her success in the spotlight, Amplo believes that bonds formed between background singers are the best parts of a cappella.
“Singing the same part as your friends and doing the choreography is the real reason I enjoy Breakwater,” she said. “… It’s this shared connection with the group that you don’t really get to have as the lead.”
With Sing Strong behind them, Breakwater is gearing up for their upcoming spring concert where they will showcase new songs and new soloists, both of which are yet to be announced.