Junior Josh Pilcher has a hidden talent: a capella singing. For four years now, Pilcher has been singing as part of Throckapella, an a capella group based out of the Throckmorton Theater and led by director Tim Silva. “When I was a wee young lad I would sing, and then my parents were like ‘hey, Josh, you can sing’… my dad started getting involved in a capella groups and when I started looking for an extracurricular, I found Throckapella,” Pilcher said. He sings both baritone and tenor, the two male singing parts, although he prefers baritone. “We have [a wide range of] music,” he explained. “We do Latin, pop, old English, and then stuff like Leonard Cohen and more recent songs. I’m doing an old Irish Folk song as my solo.”
Throckapella isn’t just an after-school club. Singers are chosen through a rigorous audition as well as merit based on talent, dedication, and cooperation. The group places an emphasis on performance and ensemble skills, performing several times throughout the year. In addition to preparing songs as an ensemble, singers in the group learn healthy singing techniques and vocal habits, as well as intonation, harmony, movement skills for performance and music theory. Students are taught to arrange music, which the group then learns and performs.
For Pilcher, a capella is about more than just music. It’s about the teamwork. Because a capella doesn’t involve any instruments, the boys must work as a team and be in tune,literally and figuratively, with each other. In order to be selected during auditions, candidates must show an affinity for teamwork, commitment, self-discipline, and respect. The director and his or her style of teaching is impactful as well: Pilcher stopped singing for a year when he didn’t get along with the director. However, he gets along well with the current group of boys and their leader. “I like the new director, Tim [Silva]. He’s dank. He’s the homie,” he said.
Because of the sole focus on the boys’ voices, a capella can be frightening for some, as there is no instrumental support to hide behind. However, Pilcher explained that stage fright doesn’t really affect him. “I did a lot of public speaking and speech competitions when I was in middle school,” he said. “I don’t mind being in the spotlight. I’d say I’m an extrovert. I just enjoy being involved.”
Pilcher explained that singing a capella won’t ever be part of his life as a career, but he hopes to continue it “on the side” through the rest of high school and in college. It has been an important part of his life so far, and it is something he doesn’t want to lose. “A capella is cool. I sing because I love music, and being part of something so beautiful is pretty dank.”
Throckapella performs in their Spring Concert on June 1 at the Throckmorton theater, beginning at 8pm.