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Raising their voices

Baldwin a cappella singers join festival


Musical talent from Baldwin will echo this weekend at an a cappella festival to be held at Adelphi University.

The 11th SingStrong Music Festival will feature professional and amateur a cappella singers — that is, singers who perform without instrumental accompaniment — from across the country and from Baldwin.

Organizer Jonathan Minkoff, a Baldwin native, said the festival was founded in 2009, but this is the first time it will be held at Adelphi.

“Finding a partner is a little like finding a soul mate,” he said, adding that the organization required a “top of the line theater,” a whole arts center that can accommodate 20 classrooms and space for multiple coaching and performances.

“There are a lot of great theaters that can’t accommodate that,” said Minkoff, who is co-producing the show with his high school buddy from Baldwin High School, Michael Miller. Minkoff is a 1988 graduate of the school; Miller graduated in 1986.

One prominent Baldwin group is Octapella, called Octapella and Friends. Catherine Sweeney, the high school senior who is the group’s president, said the singers expanded their ranks for festival purposes. Sweeney, 17, said she was excited about performing at SingStrong.

“It’s cool because you’re creating music without any instruments, she said, speaking from Rochester where she was auditioning to enter the Eastman School of Music in the fall.

“As a classical musician, it’s exciting to step away and perform popular music,” she said.

All the singers are in the high school choir, said Sweeney, a soprano, and she especially praised alto Michaela Barnett, Octapella’s vice president, who is responsible for much of the group’s arrangements.

Others in Octapella and Friends are: soprano Audrey Wilson; altos Valencia St. Louis and Daelynn Jorif; tenors Jeffrey Fulcher and evan Batsford; and bassi Peter Orselli and John Fulcher. Octapella, which Sweeney said has been performing for about 10 years, will compete in the high school competition Saturday afternoon.

Another performer at the festival is the Greater Nassau Chorus, based in Baldwin and led by Baldwinite Harriette Walters. The chorus, which boasts members from all over the region, focuses on barbershop music.

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