In photo: For Good Measure, Mohonasen High’s award-winning a cappella group, poses for a photograph earlier this month. From left, first row, are Sophia Sacchetti, Stephanie Eckl, Alyssa Hamblet, Nina Cerniglia, Hannah DeMarco, Sophie Mathis and director Nicole Gabriel. In the back row from left are, Nicholas Rivera, Elisha Rogers, Brandon Gunn, Oliver Presson, Zachary Carpenter, George Alden, Anthony Gagliardi, D’Sean Madison-Key and Nathaniel Finke.
Three years ago, Mohonasen choir director Nicole Gabriel thought she might have the makings of a pretty good a cappella singing group, and it seems she was absolutely correct.
"It's something I thought high school kids might like to do, but you need a good group of upper level kids to do it really well," said Gabriel, who has been director of the school's a cappella group, For Good Measure, for six years now. "Right now half of this group are seniors, and we've been competing as a group for three years now. It's very difficult to do well, but we have a group of talented kids that can do it."
For Good Measure recently won the ICHSA (International Championships of High School A cappella) Northeast Quartefinals on Jan. 26 at RPI's EMPAC Center. This Saturday, the group will travel to Worcester, Massachusetts to compete in the ICHSA semifinals. The winner qualifies for the finals in Lincoln Center in New York City on April 20.
"We won the quarterfinals in 2016 and that was super exciting for us because we had no expectations," said Gabriel, who went to Waterford-Halfmoon High School and then The College of Saint Rose before becoming the Mohonasen choir director for grades 7-12 13 years ago. "Now we're at the point where we've been before so there is a little pressure on us. But I would love to see these kids take it further, and I feel like this is their year. I think I have the best group of kids I've ever had, the best music selections and the best choreography."
For Good Measure is made up of 15 students - six are seniors - and rehearses between two to three times a week. Most of the group were involved in the Mohonasen School production of "Guys and Dolls" last weekend, and with that show completed, they have refocused on this Saturday's event at Mechanics Hall in Worcester.
Brandon Gunn, left, and Zachary Carpenter sing a duet during a peformance by For Good Measure, Mohonasen High School’s a cappella singing group. (Photo provided)
"We each get a 12-minute set with three songs, and if you go over your time you get penalized," said Gabriel. "Each song features a couple of different soloists and a couple of duets. Our music is mostly pop and Broadway."
Also competing in Worcester this weekend will be Vocal Point, a team made up of South Glens Falls students, including seniors Anthony Migliori, Brandon Sarti, Kate Nelson, Josh Daley, Bryan Currie, Frank Triolo, Garrett Eggleston, Kailyn Wood and Marlies Amberger. Betsy Stambach-Fuller is the director of Vocal Point, which finished third in the quarterfinals to grab the last berth in the semis.
The other participants are Accent A Cappella (Lincoln-Sudbury High School in Sudbury, Massachusetts), Falconize (Danvers High School in Danvers, Massachusetts), WitchPitch (Salem High School in Salem, Massachusetts), The Sachimes (Saugus High School in Saugus, Massachusetts), The Thursdays (Chelmsford High School in Chelmsford, Massachusetts), Voices of Steel (Wakefield High School in Wakefield, Massachusetts), and The 18 Wheelers (Wheeler School in Providence, Rhode Island).
Seniors talk about the group and their musical tastes
Here's what the Mohonasen seniors had to say about their experience performing with For Good Measure, and their musical tastes.
Zachary Carpenter - I got involved in the a cappella group when I was a freshman, which was the earliest I could join. I was super excited to audition as soon as possible because I loved the sound that the group was able to create with only their voices, and I hope that my predecessors are proud of what we have achieved. The camaraderie and friendship that this group cultivates is enough to make any member want to keep coming back.
When I am not rehearsing all kinds of music, I like to pride myself on my eclectic taste. As long as I can tell that the music has a meaning of some kind, I can appreciate it. The greatest thing about performing with this interesting group of people is that everything we do is entertaining. I am never bored, and the satisfaction I get from creating our style of music makes me wish I would never have to graduate and leave this group.
Nathaniel Finke - For Good Measure is probably my favorite ensemble to me in at Mohonasen, and I'm really grateful to be a part of it. I first saw our a cappella group performing when I was in middle school and I thought it was incredible how the group could make such a full sound with only their voices. It looked like a lot of fun, so I auditioned and joined in 9th grade, along with my other friends.
The kind of music I like best is also a type of a cappella music; barbershop. It's four-part harmony that is fun to listen to and even more fun to sing. Going to competitions with For Good Measure is a really good experience. Traveling with everyone is a lot of fun and we have a good time playing games together while waiting for mic checks and before performances. On stage it's amazing to have an audience to perform for and to have a booming sound system to support us. It's a truly awesome experience and I'm glad I get to be a part of it.
Nina Cerniglia - I first got involved in For Good Measure my sophomore year of high school. I decided to try out because I loved singing and a lot of my friends were in the group. Our a cappella group is so close and we are all friends and everyone is always included in whatever plans or get-together we have. I am so proud to be a part of a group that is so friendly.
The music I usually listen to is whatever is on the radio, and songs from musicals. The only genre of music I don't listen to is country.
Brandon Gunn - I became involved at the beginning of my freshman year. I had been in choir for years, and loved listening to the a cappella group because they were able to make such beautiful music with just their voices and a beatbox. Everyone in the group is also so kind and unique, so being a part of this family makes me feel so warm and welcomed.
When I'm not performing, I enjoy listening to band and choral music, as well as hip hop and rock. The overall experience of competing in these events is extremely fun. It feels so good going on stage and singing/dancing for a cappella fans. We also get to be part of the audience and see other groups perform for us, which is a blast. This also allows us to learn from other groups, and apply this learning to better our group.
Oliver Presson - I've been involved since my freshman year. I became involved because the music director, Miss Gabriel, from our musicals, noticed that me and a few friends of mine seemed to have a natural love for singing, as we were doing it constantly.The whole experience of going on a trip somewhere far away with my best friends is something I have always enjoyed.
When I'm not singing a cappella, I listen to a wide variety of music. Everything from rap to rock is within my music library. The thrill of winning first place twice at the quarterfinals was exhilarating. It made me even more motivated to practice my best to make sure that we have a fighting chance at moving even farther in the competition. Competing at these competitions has been fantastic.
Nicholas Rivera - When I first got into this group I was a freshman in high school and was thrilled to be apart of such a cool group. My sister was already in the group and she would always tell me how great it was. My voice dropped in 6th grade, low enough to be a high school bass and the bass of the group was about to leave so I though maybe they’d need one.
It is crazy how much we have grown as a group and how much I've grown as a person. I have bonded with a lot of the people in the group and we feel like more than a family than a group. Overall, I've really have had a great time in this group and it's sad to be leaving soon. When I'm not preforming I like listening to Barbershop music and Spanish music.