The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Combining service and music, a cappella group remains gold

The Daily Iowan; Photos by Shiva
Old Gold Acapella during UI Dance Marathon 24 at the IMU on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018. (Shivansh Ahuja/The Daily Iowan)

Eighteen Hawkeyes crowd around in a tight room, acting as pieces to complete a musical puzzle. When the first singer begins, their voices come together and act as a powerful force — not just for entertainment but for service.

The University of Iowa student organization Old Gold A Cappella will hold its annual spring concert at the Englert, 221 E. Washington St., on Friday, performing a variety of intricate songs for the audience.

Javon Stovall, the current president of the group, transferred to the UI in the fall of 2015. One of his old friends encouraged Stovall to join Old Gold.

By the fall of 2016, he had helped redefined the group’s image and restored its presence on campus, along with six other members.

“What’s really cool about student-led music organization is that everyone’s voice is different,” Stovall said. “In music, a cappella groups, everyone has a unique sound.”

For the 2017-2018 academic year, the group underwent a mission change, putting a huge emphasis on service for performances.

“I got involved with student government this year, and [doing] a lot of service work, I started to realize we could be doing more,” he said. “I think that’s going to provide Old Gold a bigger opportunity to reach out and touch the lives of people who need it.”

A few of the highlights for Old Gold this school year included meeting the award-winning a cappella Michigan G. Men, singing at Dance Marathon 24, putting on a spring benefit concert in which the members collected money for the Food Pantry, and the executive board traveling to Memphis, Tennessee, for networking and leadership development at the National A Cappella Convention.

Kaylen Luttenberg, the incoming president of Old Gold for the next academic year, was especially fond of the board’s recent trip to the Volunteer State, and she said she learned a great deal from her contemporaries.

Typically ranging from around 12 to 20 members, a frequent problem Stovall noticed during his time in the group is the pieces continually falling apart from the puzzle.

“It’s a solid time commitment,” Stovall said. “It’s a solid three to five hours per week, and that’s hard for a lot for people. Burnout happens a lot of the time. Once [students] leave, we’re missing that part, so we have to fill it.”

With several members needing to be in the background, Luttenberg lamented that there’s often difficulty in keeping the energy high.

“It’s hard to keep that positivity up when you’re doing the same thing over and over again,” she said. “A lot of the times, if you’re not the soloist, you’re singing ‘dos’ and ‘ahs,’ which can sometimes be a little bit repetitive.”

This year, the music has been particularly challenging.

“It’s very painstaking and very detailed, and you’re really holding on to your music and learning as much as you can,” Luttenegger said. “That first time you put the music down and have it memorized and the whole group sings it is the most rewarding thing.”

Stovall also feels a certain type of magic while performing together.

“Once you step on stage and you’re in the zone, there’s this indescribable feeling of trusting everybody in the group,” he said.

Katlyn Brown, the Old Gold treasurer, said she highly anticipates the large platform the group will have.

“I’m excited with the space, since we’re performing in the Englert,” she said. “Having that energy and drive to do well while being in that large space will drive us to do even better.”

As his years of being president are numbered, Stovall said, he will the miss the artistic growth of the new singers he took under his wing. He said he especially will miss singers realizing their potential.

“It makes me feel like a dad, almost,” he said and laughed. “It’s really a blessing and an honor to be a part of that journey.”

From here on out, Stovall hopes Old Gold’s voice will only grow louder.

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About the Contributor
Sarah Stortz
Sarah Stortz, Arts Editor
Twitter: @sstortz_
Sarah Stortz is an Arts Editor at The Daily Iowan. She has been on staff since her freshman year, previously as a news reporter, digital producer, and arts reporter. She is a senior at the University of Iowa, studying journalism & mass communication with a certificate in nonprofit management and a minor in theatre arts.