The name means ‘beautiful singing’ in Italian, and those who hear Marist Sisters’ College Woolwich a cappella group Bel Canto perform agree it’s a good fit.
The ensemble, which includes 12 students in Years 9 to 12, won a cappella competition AusAca’s state final held at the University of New South Wales on May 24, along with awards for Best Ensemble (8+ Singers), and Best Contemporary Song for a vocal mash-up of Adele hits Someone Like You and Rumour Has It.
Vocal captain Amelia Eagle, in Year 12, said it was their favourite of the two songs they performed after just a month of rehearsals.
“It’s upbeat and a lot of fun,” she said. “We did a lot of preparation in a short amount of time, so I think we really felt the pressure.”
Amelia joined the ensemble as a Year 9 student new to the school.
“It was a quick step into making friends and doing what I love,” she said.
“It’s nice to have good friendships but also to know that there are people who are as passionate about singing as you are.”
Year 12 creative arts captains Chiara Cimilio and Tessa Coleman joined their first school vocal ensemble in Year 7. The group evolved into Bel Canto, a Talent Development Program (TDP) initiative, about two years ago. They have been around music for most of their lives, with Chiara’s father an Elvis impersonator and Tessa’s mother part of a band.
“You get a lot of advice from them on how to prepare – drinking lots of water, staying rested,” said Tessa. “It [winning the competition] was amazing, but I think just being able to have fun but still learn new techniques is the best part.”
Chiara said it was nice to share new experiences like the competition with friends.
“I wouldn’t have gained as much confidence as I have if I hadn’t joined the ensemble,” she said.
“I would still be in my room singing to myself. It’s also nice helping the younger ones in the group to step up and to be more confident as well.”
TDP Bel Canto tutor Eva Spata said the group, one of six finalists in the NSW competition, were all-rounders and incorporated expression and choreography into their singing routines. They were happy to win after gaining many second places at eisteddfods.
“Often it’s our choice of contemporary music that means we miss out on first place, and because the contemporary music is totally appropriate for the a cappella style that we were doing for once it went for us rather than against us,” Ms Spata said. Her advice to the girls pre-performance includes a reminder to smile, stay in tune and have fun. “It’s also giving them confidence. I say ‘You are great at what you do, just show it off’.”
Bel Canto will compete in the AusAca national final in Melbourne on September 10.
View more of Bel Canto’s singing in the multimedia section of this site.