Fall is in the air, and what better way to celebrate than with cider donuts and a showcase of talent that UMass Commonwealth Honors College students have to offer? On Sunday, October 20, a dozen acts took the stage at the amphitheater between Birch and Maple Hall, filling the CHC Residential Community with lively music, singing, dancing, and more during the second annual "CHC's Got Talent" show.
“Wicked Pitch,” one of UMass’s coed a cappella groups that is known for incorporating comedy into their performances, kicked off the show with a beautiful rendition of “Evergreen” by the artist YEBBA. The group’s energy and harmonies captivated the audience, drawing in students and their families who were visiting for the weekend.
Solo guitarist and singer Shelly Hed took the stage next with a song by The Killers. Shelly is a sophomore theater major and musician. She also presents a radio show called “Ghostlight” on WMUAx that features contemporary show tunes that runs from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. every Monday.
Members of TASC lept onstage next, wowing the audience with their synchronized diabolo skills—a visual cross between juggling and advanced yo-yo. Kiri Carlson, a junior psychology major, is the president of TASC, which originally stood for The Asian Center for Choreography. “We’re a group that promotes Asian culture through choreography and a blend of hip-hop dance,” Kiri said. In addition to diabolo, the group specializes in the lion dance and the dragon dance. TASC welcomes all community members who are interested in what they do, regardless of prior knowledge or experience.
Following TASC’s awe-inspiring routine were several solo and duet singing performances by Jinyu Chen, Meghan Muth, Samantha Gentle, Melissa Elmali, Kiernan Tay, and Scott Huang. Before Jinyu began his performance, he reminded the audience that “everyone shares their happy moments, but I think we should be sharing all of our feelings, including sad ones.” Jinyu added that he dedicates his sentiment to “all of those who’ve ever had a hard time,” providing a glimmer of light and hope to accompany his thoughtful acoustic rendition “All I Want” by Kodaline.
In the midst of these acts, the UMass Amherst Doo Wop Shop, the University’s oldest and only all-male-identifying a cappella group, brought their exuberance to the stage as they performed a duo of songs. Prior to the start of the talent show, we had a chance to talk to members of Doo Wop Shop about their lives in and outside of the a cappella world. “We take music from all varieties and genres, and have fun doing it,” said a group member, adding that they are a tightly-knit group of friends who spend time together climbing at the rock gym, studying, and cheering on their favorite sports teams.
The trio of Robin Armstrong, Ethan Hartwell, and Ryan Lerner arrived on stage with an acoustic guitar, a cajón (box drum), and an electric keyboard. All three students are pursuing STEM fields, and had met through the CHC Residential Community and the University Chorale. For current or prospective students looking to get involved in vocal performance on campus, they recommend joining the University Chorale for their welcoming atmosphere and opportunities for performing and collaborating.
The show ended on a high note as the UMass Gospel Choir performed two lively and harmonious songs. Jaline Israel, a senior psychology student and president/director of the group, encourages anyone who wants to be part of a singing community to join the Choir. “We welcome anyone whether they’ve had experience with gospel or not,” she said.
Thank you to all of those who participated in CHC's talent showcase, as well as to the students and staff who made this event possible and to everyone who came out to support those who performed. The students of the UMass Commonwealth Honors College never cease to inspire us, and we are fortunate to be able to celebrate the diversity of talent that exist within this community.