The Hippo


Jul 21, 2019








During a workshop at last year’s Voices of the 603 event. Courtesy photo.

Attend Voices of the 603 concert

Where: Capitol Center for the Arts, 44 S. Main St., Concord
When: Friday, Oct. 10, at 7 p.m.
Tickets: $10
Contact:, 225-1111,

Find your voice
A cappella festival returns

By Kelly Sennott

 If there’s one thing Voices of the 603 founder Jamie Saucier can pride himself on, it’s the lasting impression his a cappella festival has made on young New Hampshire singers.

Prospect Mountain High School music teacher Jamie Bolduc says her students keep asking to watch the concert YouTube video from last year’s festival. Almost her entire team is new to “Voices,” as she affectionately calls it — of her 16 students singing, only six are Voices alums — but that hasn’t dampered the excitement. They plan to perform “Since You’ve Been Gone” and a blend of “Save the World” and “Don’t You Worry Child” by Pentatonix.
“They [the returning singers] keep telling the others about the event and how fun it is,” Bolduc said in a phone interview. “In June, they were already thinking about what they’ll do in October.”
Saucier, an a cappella connessior, UNH Manchester student activities coordinator and Merrimack Concert Association music director, started the event five years ago for the high school choral scene, which, thanks to shows like Glee, American Idol and The Sing-Off, has been growing.
Voices of the 603 works like this: Middle and high school students from all over the state attend workshops at UNH Manchester from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 10. Workshops cover a range of topics, including but not limited to how your vocal instrument works; how to best take care of it; how to arrange a song with your iPhone; how to audition for a collegiate group; beatboxing 101; rocking your solo and more.
That same night, singing groups from represented schools will perform two songs a cappella as part of a friendly, inter-school competition emceed by Heather Bishop at the Capitol Center for the Arts, 44 S. Main St., Concord, at 7 p.m. Interwoven between the students’ songs are guest performances by the Granite Statesmen Barbershop Chorus (who will open the evening event); the On Air quartet; the Rhythm of New Hampshire Show Chorus; Milling Around, the UNH Manchester resident a cappella group; and the headliner, Boston’s Ball in the House, which Saucier says is one of the region’s best. Before intermission, all students will perform an arrangement of “Boys Chase Girls” by Ingrid Michaelson together.
Even when she’s not there, Bolduc’s students are practicing; the Prospect Mountain High School principal was very impressed when Bolduc needed to leave for the day and he filled in, only to find the kids running the class themselves.
Even since year one, Saucier has seen great improvement in the quality of the performances.
“During last year’s Pinkerton women’s chorale, they sang ‘Royals’ by Lorde, and they were singing nine different parts at the same time, complete with foot stomps, claps,” Saucier said. “Fifteen years ago they would have only been able to do that with four parts.”
Saucier thinks pop culture has helped in making a cappella “cool,” but it also doesn’t hurt that people who sang a cappella yesteryear are “coming out of the woodwork” in support for a cappella. Saucier pointed to Gov. Maggie Hassan, who sang at Brown.
“Wherever I’ve been, I’ve loved to start a cappella groups,” Saucier said. (He spearheaded UNH Manchester’s Milling Around, and he also started UNH Durham’s Not Too Sharp while he was a student there.) 
Bolduc said singing a cappella is perfect for students for a couple reasons: it’s free and it allows for creative license. They can sing current-day pop music, and because instrumental accompaniment is forbidden, you can practice anywhere and with anyone. It attracts kids who normally wouldn’t go for choral singing — when Bolduc’s team was void of a beat boxer, two students rallied a non-choral friend to join. 
“I think a cappella is so human that we find ourselves while singing through these groups,” Saucier said. “We find our best friends, and we find we’re not perfect. … And I think the support network we’ve created through these types of events is fantastic.” 
As seen in the October 9, 2014 issue of the Hippo.

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