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Q&A with Caitlyn Cibulsky

From "Glee" to "The Sing-Off," television shows are bringing a cappella singing into the mainstream. And a new a cappella group at UC San Diego—Acamazing—is gaining popularity right here in La Jolla. Composed of 19 students, the group has a number of songs under their belts, which they've performed both on and off campus. You can see video of their concerts on their website and on YouTube. Freshman Caitlyn Cibulsky serves as the administrative affairs officer for the group and, in this interview, she talks about why Acamazing is special.

How did Acamazing form and how is it different from the other a cappella groups on campus?

Cibulsky: Our current president, Danny Dalton, founded the group in fall quarter of this year. He enlisted the help of various friends and acquaintances to get the word out to people who love singing that there was going to be a new a cappella group on campus. We all just met up one day in Price Center and it went from there. Everything was a whirlwind at first, and it was very haphazard, but it all fell into place and suddenly we were an organized, cohesive group.

We're different from other a cappella groups on campus because of our very young age as a group. We have no traditions yet, no preconceived notions about what the group is supposed to be; instead, we're creating new traditions as we go along. Everything we do is brand new; everything we do gets to be the first time we've done it, and there's something very exciting about that. It's impossible to be bored or tired when none of this has ever been experienced before.

What is the best part of being in Acamazing?

Cibulsky: The best part of Acamazing is the camaraderie. I have so many good friends that I would not have met had I not joined the group, and I always look forward to going to rehearsal so I can escape working on research papers and the like for a bit, and get to go do something I love instead—singing with people I adore.

Where have you performed already and where do you want to perform? What's next for Acamazing?

Cibulsky: Acamazing has sung at several different concerts and locales both at UC San Diego and out in the wide world; our performances have been of a wide variety and all of them have been fantastic experiences. We have a tendency to sing in the chilly air outside of Conrad Prebys Music Center, so if you happen by at the right time, you may just hear us. We've performed at the beach for Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) Visit Day. We took a road trip to the Claremont Colleges one weekend to perform at Human Symphony, hosted by the fabulous Claremont Shades. We had our very own recital this quarter. Most recently, we were honored to have performed at the concert hosted by the Tritones for the Trevor Project.

Although our first year is winding down, that does not mean that we don't have plans for the future. We are especially looking forward to doing more traveling like we did when we performed at Human Symphony, as it was a wonderful bonding experience.

How often does Acamazing rehearse and how does your group choose which songs to sing?

Cibulsky: Acamazing rehearses two and a half hours twice a week on Sundays and Thursdays. The rule in the group is that anyone can arrange a song. If I feel like arranging something, that's up to me (although of course I can ask others in the group for help), and then when it's finished I would bring it in for the group to review. If we all like it enough, we can vote to start working on it. It's a great process because it means that any of us can have the opportunity for the group to perform something we've arranged. Even if someone has never arranged anything before, he or she can work with other members with more experience. The goal is for everyone, eventually, to be able to arrange. This way we never stagnate but always have new arrangers, new ideas and new songs to sing. I think we work well together because we are united by our love of music and other equally sappy but true sentiments.

Do you think a cappella is getting more popular now that it's hit the mainstream on television?

Cibulsky: People certainly are showing up for our and other on-campus a cappella groups' concerts, and that's heartening. It's never an empty room. I think that the people and groups who were already interested in a cappella will always be a sizeable portion of the fan base, but it would certainly be a much-appreciated consequence of the increasing popularity of a cappella in mainstream television for others to start getting interested too. All publicity is good publicity and all that. I love a cappella, so it's fun to see other people discovering it and falling in love as well.

Why did you choose to attend UC San Diego?

Cibulsky: I fell a bit in love with UC San Diego when I came here for the Regents Scholar Overnight Stay Program last year. Even though I'm a literature and writing major (and perpetually agonizing over whether or not to switch to linguistics) and this is a school known for scientific research, I liked it too much not to come here. Also, I had heard that, paradoxically, the science-heavy nature of UC San Diego meant that the literature and writing department was smaller and therefore much more intimate. I am hoping very much that this proves to be the case; as I'm only a first year, I haven't taken any major-specific courses yet, but the writing classes I have been in so far have been fantastic!

 Fun Faves  

Favorite place at UC San Diego: Center Hall (I've never had a class there I didn't like)

Favorite place on Earth: All the places in which I have grown up. Favorite song: "Up on the Ridge" by Dierks Bentley Favorite book: "Fragile Things" by Neil Gaiman Favorite way to spend $10: On a paperback. Or two. Or as many as I can squeeze into $10.

Favorite words to live by: "We are sorry for the inconvenience, but this is a revolution." —Subcomandante Marcos