Review: VirtuOSO livens Jones Concert Hall with a cappella performance

Members of VirtuOSO perform Sunday in Jones Concert Hall. Photo credit: Avery Ballmann

By Avery Ballmann | Staff Writer

As audience members waited outside Jones Concert Hall Sunday afternoon, they could hear the riffs and scales of VirtuOSO, Baylor’s contemporary a cappella group, warming up. High notes of the sopranos, the tenors melodies and the bass’ beats could be heard from the long cascading stairs that hug the concert hall.

Once the audience settled into their movie theater like seats the warm lighting shined on the white acoustic shells that the group would perform in front of. VirtuOSO took the stage wearing variations of white and denim. The group of 15 students introduced themselves letting the audience know that even though they were from different majors, they had singing in common.

The concert kicked off with the song “Butter” by BTS. The group moved through each other in staggering formations and switched off who was leading the song.

With no instruments, the performers were able to mimic beats and non-lyrical sound effects with one of their beatboxers, senior Jonathan Nguyen. Later in the concert when VirtuOSO held a Q&A session, they said “Butter” was one of their favorite songs to perform.

The next song on the setlist was “How Far I’ll Go” from the Disney movie “Moana.” This rendition sent chills down my spine because of all of the different vocal colors I could hear.

The song began with a harmonizing chant that led into a solo by Nairobi, Kenya senior Revina Karani. As the group stood in a triangular formation with Karani in the front, the audience could see through the windows of the bassists and beatboxers holding the rhythm of the song together.

Transitioning into a more intimate song, VirtuOSO performed “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac. This rendition was arranged by Plymouth, Mass., junior John Alves. As they sailed through changing notes each member exchanged glances at one another.

In this song it was evident that it takes the entire group to recreate a classic such as this. This was by far my favorite song they sang because of the harmonious vocals and solemn meaning behind it.

After “Landslide” the group held a Q&A, where they received questions from their Instagram account and answered them in front of the audience. There were questions such as who picks the music for the performance; they chatted and bantered with one another and came to the conclusion that it was picked by the performers and their directors Alex Parker and Lauren Weber.

After the Q&A portion VirtuOSO sang “When the Party’s Over” by Billie Eilish. This song showcased their ability to mimic instruments, they then taught the audience how to do that as well.

Nguyen gave the audience a quick lesson on how to beatbox. He started out with the simple “tsk” and “pst” then attempted to give the audience higher skilled beats, which they responded back quite well.

Next song in the set was “Getting There” from “In Transit, Broadway’s First A Cappella Musical.” This solo was sung by Granbury senior Kaitlyn Bailey, who was recently the lead in Baylor’s performance of Amelie.

“Getting There” was a classic song taking the audience through the journey of finally being in New York City and drawing every little detail such as gum stuck to the subway seat. This song was a neat feature since it was designed for an a cappella group.

VirtuOSO finished out the concert with a Disney Medley that at times had me singing along. The songs included “I See the Light” from the movie “Tangled,” “You’ll Be In My Heart” from “Tarzan” and “Go the Distance” from “Hercules.” After this medley, the concert concluded and the performers linked arms and took a bow. To hear more of VirtuOSO, you can stream their music on Spotify.