CU Denver a cappella in spotlight
LARK FINDS SUCCESS AT EVERY TURN
CU Denver is no stranger to locally known talent. Yet, with groups like Lark, they bring the university into the national spotlight. The nine-member, all female-identifying a cappella group at CU Denver has been together and rocking it for three strong years.
Hours before Lark opened for Lightwire at the Buell Theatre, Lark members Andrea Parés and Patrice Mondragon talked to the Sentry about their first experiences at the Buell, and what it means to be back.
“Growing up in Colorado, I would come to the Buell to see musicals,” Parés said. “That kind of inspired me to head towards the arts, so it’s a weird circle for me.” Other members had similar experiences at the historic downtown theater.
“When I was little, I got to be an extra of a stage production [and] I’ve been on the stage at the Buell,” Mondragon said. “It’s also a weird circle because I thought I wouldn’t have any reason to go back there.”
The group, originally coed, was switched to an all-female membership after Director Erin Hackel realized there was a lot of unrecognized female talent at CU Denver.
Lark has garnered many successes, including the top award at various a cappella competitions, headlining performances festivals, and earning accolades for their own music videos. To boot, they have recorded an album to be released later this year.
“That weekend [at So Jam 2015], we realized we were taking things into a different realm than other a cappella groups,” Parés said. “At that point I knew we were destined for more artistry and more opportunity to explore ourselves.”
The group is diverse in members, sound, and song choices. Though all nine members have their music preferences, Lark isn’t afraid to cover any genre or style of music. From French hip-hop to bulgarian music, to the “Mad Hatter” by Melania Martinez, they’ve sung it all.
“We choose songs that aren’t as popular because we have more creative freedom,” Lynette said.
There are several same-gender a cappella groups that are victim to categorizing. In the same vein, Lark is branded with many stereotypes. However, Lark refutes those claims, and work to have their voices heard in the a cappella community.
“There are many female groups that use sex to sell, and are really over-sexual,” Parés said. “Lark is an alternative to a lot of female a cappella.”
Member Teresa Suydam agrees, stressing that it’s important to send what they believe is an appropriate image to young women.
“We don’t aim to solely be sexy,” Suydam said. “We hope to show that we’re more than just our bodies.” The group also works tirelessly to support and bring each other up. “We focus on making sure everyone in the group is comfortable,” Mondragon said. “It’s making sure our voice is being heard.”
With a small group of people, the ladies of Lark are very close, and try to create a safe space for one another so that everyone feels like they belong.
“We have to learn to work as a team,” Mondragon said, “as long as we’re honest and communicative. When life hits us, it hits us all. We’re all so deep into each other’s lives at this point.”
Lark has quite a bit planned for the rest of the semester. If you want to watch Lark perform, they will be performing Feb. 25 at Sips, Sights & Sounds at CU Denver South and at the Dairy Center in Boulder on April 25.
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