The Smoke Signal, MSJ's Official Newspaper


Student Spotlight: MSJ Syncopasians

By Staff Writer Bethany Woo
MSJ Syncopasians is an 11 member acapella group founded in 2008 by alumnus David Wu. Co-leader Andy Zhou said that the first generation of Syncopasians was slightly disorganized as a new and inexperienced group, but that through the years the group has developed well and improved rapidly, with each generation learning new techniques and skills from the previous one. 
On June 24, the Syncopasians will perform as part of the Grand Prix performance at the prestigious concert venue Carnegie Hall. The opportunity was given to the group after they placed first in the Vocal Division at the SF Asian Youth Talent Show 2016. The judges — who were also musicians — gave the singers a positive critique. However, the group was unable to attend the Carnegie Hall performance last year, and instead are journeying to New York City this year for the performance. The Syncopasians had to pass through an auditioning process in order to be a part of the concert. The majority of entries were instrumentalists and solo vocalists, with MSJ Syncopasians being one of the few a capella groups. The list of songs they will be performing include “Can’t Sleep Love” by Pentatonix, a well-known American a capella group, “Paradise” by Coldplay, and either “Closer” by The Chainsmokers, or a medley of the soundtrack from Disney’s “Moana.” Since this is a much larger venture than their usual productions, the Syncopasians have created a GoFundMe on Facebook, and are planning to perform at school and around the community to help raise funds to help members financially.
The student-led group is co-led by Senior Andy Zhou and Junior Emily Jean. During the song selection process, the two research online and look into pieces that pique their interests. If the song is not already a capella, Syncopasians will arrange a version, meaning that they listen to the song and write their own different voice parts for it, altering the music so it becomes doable as an a capella piece. The co-leaders then teach the members their different parts and coach them in creating different sounds and techniques.
Other shows that the musicians made appearances in this year are Relay for Life, Interact’s LTG Banquet, MSJ VAMS’ Thanksgiving and Christmas concerts, Peer Resource’s Charity Fashion Show, the Multicultural Assembly, and other local concerts. Syncopasians is planning to hold an end-of-the-year concert open to all students and the public to raise awareness for what the group does and to showcase members’ abilities. 
A key aspect that Zhou emphasized was that Syncopasians is more than a musical group; it is also a family. He said, “… it really is like a family. Everyone gets along together, we all jam together, make music, hang out, [and] sleep over at people’s houses. It’s just a really fun experience and something everyone can enjoy.”
Photo by Graphics Editor Zen Thumparkkul

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