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Changing the face of a cappella

Lark delivers a dark twist to the genre

Lark, an all-female-identifying a cappella ensemble here at CU Denver, consists of Isabelle Amato, Camelia Ceniceros, Cleo Daniels, Janae Hansen, Sage Shriver-Blough, and Abigail Orsborne. Lark began as a concoction brewed by Director Dr. Erin Hackel to give the talented young women she was teaching in her private lessons a voice to express themselves.

“I was thinking about a particular song that’s in the musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street called ‘Greenfinch and Linnet Bird’ that’s sung by this female character who has actually been captured. She sings this whole song about all different kinds of birds sort of metaphorically thinking about being free; she feels like she’s caged,” Hackel stated in response to the origin of the name for the group. “One of her lines she says, ‘Larks will never sing, you know, when they’re captured,’ and that to me was a beautiful sort of metaphor for what I wanted this group to be.”

Lark stands strong on stage at the King Center Concert hall. Photo: Marianna Caicedo · The Sentry

 Living up to Hackel’s original notion of self-expression for the young women in the group, the group is left to conceive their own incarnation of the Lark brand. “We definitely have a brand as Lark, which is kind of far-left field and not things you would see coming and kind of esoteric and maybe even a little dark and twisted,” Amato stated in response to what influences the group’s style and performances. “But we always try to incorporate things that we’re listening to and sounds that we like, and we always try to collaborate between all of us so that we can get a mixed sound.”

Certainly, living up to that eccentric brand the group is known for at their various performances and competitions nationally and internationally, the group pioneers to fuse together sounds that most wouldn’t think to meld. A group favorite to perform, “Vivaldi in a Crown,” combining a classic Vivaldi piece with Billie Eilish’s “You Should See Me in a Crown,” gives listeners a look into the hard work the group puts in to create the unique arrangements they perform. 

“I think there’s a big difference; I’m new to Lark so going to this first competition was very eye opening to see how different we actually are from a cappella, under the umbrella of it, and even at CU Denver,” Orsborne stated to the uniqueness of the group compared to the quintessential a cappella group. “I think part of that is the bond that Lark has as a group and it’s what it’s known for and I think that’s really important in creating the sound that comes out of the group every semester.”

A burgeoning attraction for each incarnation of Lark and its ever-changing members is to preserve the character of each embodiment through the process of recording. This past May, one of the earlier incarnations of Lark released the group’s debut album. And another manifestation will be releasing a single in the future. 2019’s incarnation, however, has a different take on how they want to preserve their sound with the intention of releasing live recordings to capture the energy the group radiates while performing together.

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