The Music Beat: One of UVA’s Newer a Cappella Groups Tunes Up for Anniversary Performance

April 16, 2024 By Renee Grutzik, amn8sb@virginia.edu Renee Grutzik, amn8sb@virginia.edu

Named after an electric guitar despite being instrument-free, the Flying V’s, one of the University of Virginia’s 14 a cappella ensembles, is celebrating its 15th anniversary as a student organization with a concert Saturday at the UVA Chapel.

Founded in 2009 by former student Lauren Groetch, the coed Flying V’s represent their namesake Gibson rock ’n’ roll guitar model as the University’s sole a cappella group dedicated to rock music.

“Rock music breeds a lot of crazy, but fun and exciting, personalities,” third-year student Veronica Gross said.

Gross, a kinesiology major and biology minor, is the current president of the Flying V’s. She grew up singing in her school concert choirs, but the pandemic put her singing career on hold during high school.

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After arriving at UVA, Gross immediately knew she wanted to flex her voice and soon found the Flying V’s. “It was great to come here and get involved with singing again,” she said.

“Prior to being in this group, I wouldn’t have considered myself a rock music fan,” Gross said. “I kind of discovered that a lot of the songs that I enjoy can be considered rock music, but it’s just pop rock or alternative rock. Being in the group opened my eyes about what kind of music I like.”

Tyler Taute, a second-year environmental science student, transferred to the University last fall from Tidewater Community College in Virginia Beach. He never expected to be part of an a cappella group.

Picture of students rehearsing music beats inside the chapel.

The Flying V’s semester-ending performance will be hosted Friday in the University Chapel. (Photo by Emily Faith Morgan, University Communications)

“I came to UVA, and I was like, ‘OK, I’m gonna get my degree and get out of here,’” Taute said. With little singing experience since middle school, Taute noticed the chalk advertisements scattered around Grounds regarding a cappella auditions. He decided to give it a try.

“My whole family is really into rock music,” he said. “So, I auditioned for the Flying V’s not expecting to get in. So, I feel very, very lucky to have gotten in.”

One of Taute’s main responsibilities as vice president of the Flying Vs is managing alumni relations. Given the anniversary show’s theme, “XV” – 15 in Roman numerals – in honor of the group’s 15-year anniversary, Taute invited alumni to return to Grounds to join in the fun.

Picture of students Practicing cappella inside the chapel.
Practicing a cappella can be tedious work. (Photo by Emily Faith Morgan, University Communications)

Although accomplished, the Flying V’s are still the new kids on the block among the University’s 14 officially registered a cappella groups.

UVA’s a Cappella History

A cappella has been a thriving aspect of UVA culture for more than 70 years, since the Virginia Gentlemen were founded in 1953. Starting as a subgroup of the Virginia Glee Club, with just eight members known as the “Elite Eight,” the group has grown to 16 members today.

Group Picture of Students

The 14 current members of the Flying V’s will be joined onstage by some of the group’s alumni during this weekend’s performance. (Contributed photo)

The all-male Virginia Gentlemen have traveled to all seven continents and performed in the White House several times.

Like the Virginia Gentlemen, the robe-wearing Hullabahoos, founded in 1987, keep a male-only group tradition. The group was featured in the movie “Pitch Perfect” and the television series “The Office” in 2012. The Hullabahoos have also recorded nearly 20 studio albums.

The Sil’hooettes, a female-only a cappella group, was born in 1989. Coining themselves as the University’s most awarded a cappella group, the Sil’hooettes have performed a wide range of music for more than 35 years.

In 1999, Ektaal was founded bringing more diversity to the a cappella sounds at UVA. The South and West Asian fusion a cappella group blends Western pop music with a South Asian influence.

It’s Showtime

The Flying V’s have been tirelessly preparing for Saturday’s performance. As the group’s music director, Andy Heil, a third-year student majoring in astronomy and music, has been instrumental in the rehearsals. His main responsibility is to listen to the music and ensure every member hits the right notes.

“It’s been very rewarding,” he said. “It’s allowed me to learn a lot about music.”

And while each note is important, Gross says being in the group is about more than making good music.

 

 

“Having people who care a lot about the same things you care about is the most important thing,” Gross said. “It’s the people and the friendships you form that make it all so worthwhile in the end.”

The performance – featuring songs voted on by the Flying V’s membership – will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the University Chapel. To purchase a ticket, Venmo @flyingvsuva – $8 for UVA students or $15 for general admission. 

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Mike Mather

Managing Editor University Communications