Central Maryland Chorale and GQ a cappella quartet sing Saturday in Silver Spring -- Gazette.Net


The Oscars may be over for the year, but still to come on Saturday is a concert of Hollywood and Disney movie tunes and an a cappella quartet during the Central Maryland Chorale's annual Spring Fling and Silent Auction in Silver Spring.

The longtime Laurel-based group will be singing two sets of movie music medleys — “Disney Dazzle” featuring songs from Disney movies, as well as a Cinemagic program that highlights movie tunes from the 1930s through the 1990s.

Central Maryland Chorale and GQ (Girls Quartet)

When: 7 p.m. Saturday

Where: Glenmont United Methodist Church, 12901 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring

Tickets: $20

For information: 301-317-9646, centralmarylandchorale.com, girlsquartet.com

“We'll be singing some of the lighter, more popular things,” said Monica Otal, artistic director for the chorale, which also performs pieces such as Brahms' “Requiem.”

Also singing at the fundraising event at the Glenmont United Methodist Church will be special guests GQ, a prize-winning a capella quartet of four young women who all studied music at Towson University.

“They're getting to be nationally known,” Otal said. “They're very good musicians and sing well together.”

Visitors will have a chance to look over the auction items and enjoy some hors d'oeuvres and desserts before the start of the hour-long concert, which will open with the chorale accompanied by a pianist and maybe a drummer, followed by GQ, Otal said.

Started in 1969, the Central Maryland Chorale began as the Laurel Oratorio Society, a group of choir members from local churches, who first gathered to perform Brahms' “German Requiem.”

The chorale rehearses on Monday evenings at Laurel Presbyterian Church on Old Sandy Spring Road in Laurel. Auditions are not required, but applicants should be able to read a musical score.

The chorale will hold its annual Vocal Scholarship Concert on March 29 at Laurel Presbyterian Church, followed by its Spring Concert on May 17 at the Lutheran Church of St. Andrew in Silver Spring, where it will be performing Mozart's “Requiem” and songs from the Civil War.

Girls quartet

The Saturday concert will be the first time that GQ is performing with the chorale, said Katie Macdonald, who sings bass for the quartet.

Also part of the group are tenor Amanda McNutt and mid-range singers Katie Gillis and Ali Hauger.

GQ performed in September at the Community College of Baltimore County's Essex campus where Otal teaches.

“That's how she spotted us,” Macdonald said.

In their early 20s, all four members studied music at Towson University and are now teaching music in public schools or privately.

The quartet looks for songs that aren't regularly done by a cappella groups, Macdonald said.

“We do a lot of barbershop, and also do a lot of contemporary music,” she said.

One contemporary example is “Hot Knife” by singer/songwriter Fiona Apple, who brings elements of jazz and alternative rock into her music.

At the Silver Spring concert, the quartet expects to sing a traditional tune, “Foreign Lander” and “Timshel,” a song performed by the British folk rock group Mumford & Sons.

Also in the repertoire is “When You're Smiling,” a song made famous by Louis Armstrong, and a hymn composed in 1873, “It Is Well with My Soul.”

The quartet got its start in 2011 as a senior-year project organized by Gillis, who was getting ready to graduate.

“She thought about creating a vocal group,” Macdonald said. “It was just for fun. We didn't think anything would come of it.”

As they began rehearsing, GQ became members' shorthand for the still-to-be-named “girls' quartet,” and the name stuck, she said.

They won their first competition, the Mid-Atlantic Harmony Sweepstakes at the Birchmere in Alexandria, Va., in February 2012, also taking home Best Original Arrangement and Audience Favorite.

In May, they went to the Harmony Sweepstakes finals in San Francisco and came in second with an arrangement of “Timshel” by Gillis and Macdonald.

“That was awesome,” Macdonald said. “That's when we thought it was probably more than just a fun hobby.”

In March 2012, they also won First Prize and Audience Favorite in Singstrong's ACA-Idol competition in Reston, Va.

And in November 2013 they also won Sweet Adeline's International's “Rising Star” Competition in Denver.

Macdonald said a cappella singing runs the gamut from early 1900s barbershop quartets to 1950s doo-wop groups to the current resurgence in a cappella singing, reflected in the 2012 movie, “Pitch Perfect,” about a college a cappella competition.

In high school, singers run the risk of being called “choir nerds” but little do people know how much fun it can be to sing a cappella, she said.

“It's so intricate and cool, and intricate to listen to. ... And you can do it with a little budget — all you need is voices,” she said.

Macdonald said the group enjoys singing together.

“They're some of my best friends, and it's produced some of my best memories,” she said.

They also enjoy introducing a cappella music to other people.

“They're some of the most satisfying, fulfilling moments of our [lives],” Macdonald said. “You get to touch people and speak to them in a certain way.”

Barely out of college themselves, GQ is especially interested in introducing a cappella singing to young people.

“They can look up to us but still feel they can approach us,” she said about being young themselves. “We can also give them some guidance about college careers ... and make beautiful, awesome music.”