By Michaela Kron
Years of a cappella singing at the Westminster Schools came to an end for 10 young men this spring when they graduated from the private school in Buckhead. But just as they needed no instruments to back up their voices, they decided they needed no institution to back their performances.
So the recent graduates of the Men’s A Cappella at Westminster formed Summer Men’s A Cappella (SMAC) to keep the music going, at least until they go their separate ways to college in the fall.
The members of SMAC met in seventh grade at Westminster. Throughout high school, they sang in the Men’s A Cappella, making music with their voices and no instruments.
Chris Kilgore, who lives in Buckhead and will attend Elon University in the fall, expressed his interest in a cappella while talking recently at a Buckhead Starbucks.
“I remember how much fun a cappella was during the year,” Kilgore said before attending a practice session. “Just making music with my friends was a lot of fun for me.”
The group spends about two hours a week practicing and usually performs once a week. SMAC performed at Garrison’s Broiler and Tap restaurant in Vinings recently and hopes to add performances in Virginia-Highland and Midtown.
“It’s fun singing for people your age or younger, but it’s also really fun to go sing for the 40- and 50-year-old crowd,” member Harry Whelchel said. He lives in Buckhead and will attend the University of Virginia this fall.
SMAC often performs songs the members learned with Westminster’s a cappella group. They also do songs arranged by member Andrew Owens, including “Temptations” and “Eye of the Tiger.”
“I’ve always loved music in general,” said Owens, a Sandy Springs resident who will attend Rice University in the fall. “I’ve been playing piano and guitar and singing for a long time.”
The other members of SMAC are Clarke Morrison, George Fryhofer, John Hobgood, Sam Gottlieb, Evan Carter, Max Dutcher and Todd Linder.
While the friendship and the music make the SMAC experience fun, having a group with 10 members does pose some challenges.
“We don’t have music for everybody because we don’t have a really big budget,” Kilgore said.
It’s also tough to get 10 teenagers together at one time during the summer between high school and college. They haven’t yet managed to get everyone to the same practice, although most of the group usually makes it to performances.
In addition to singing a cappella, most SMAC members work at Westminster’s summer day camp for children ages 4 to 13. Many play soccer on the weekends, and some are on a swim team. Kilgore also is a competitive video game player and plans to travel to Orlando, Fla., this summer to play in a Halo tournament.
SMAC members are uncertain whether they will reunite to perform during college breaks, but they are sure of one thing: They will pursue a cappella in college and further their passion for music.