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Pacific Stocktones are a colorful family who love to sing together

Founded in 2011, Pacific Stocktones are the only student-run, co-ed a capella ensemble at University of the Pacific. Any Pacific student who loves to sing is welcome to audition. Today, their 11 members represent majors in psychology, English, Media X, speech language pathology, music industry studies, music therapy, music management and music education. 

Q: Who are Pacific Stocktones?

Curtiss Wright ’21, music education major: I would probably say anyone who loves to sing. When I auditioned to Stocktones, I had never sung in an ensemble. That was my first intro to singing so, for me, it was about wanting to be making music. That goes beyond the boundaries of your major or academic interests as we have people, like Gianna, who are not music majors. 

Q: Gianna, how did you find out about Pacific Stocktones since you’re not a conservatory student?

Gianna Gonzales ’23, psychology major: I had created an a capella group at my high school and I was planning on doing the same thing at Pacific unless there was already such a group. So, I emailed the conservatory and got an answer back from Stocktones inviting me to their auditions.

Q: How important is this club to a non-music major?

Gianna: Generally speaking, I spend so much time studying and just doing homework that I don’t really get to do much music, so this is the majority of my musical activity.

Q: Explain what an a capella ensemble is.

Dion Nickelson ’22, music education major: This question actually comes up a lot when I talk about Stocktones. A capella music is simply making music without any musical instruments. It’s all about the voice, so you’ll hear a lot of harmonies or beatboxing. You also hear percussion elements in the actual singing and have some rhythmic elements that imitate instruments.

Q: What is the history of a capella singing?

Dion: You can date a capella music back to when music first originated. You can also look back to Gregorian chants using just the voice to make music. Beatboxing and imitating instruments came a lot later.

Q: How do you choose songs to perform or record?

Dion: We like choosing music that really represents us as an ensemble. We have our own vibe that we try to pick off of. This can range from genres like pop, hip hop, R&B, rap, popular songs or oldies as well. We choose music that we just enjoy singing.

Curtiss: We’re always making sure that whatever we’re doing, we’re enjoying. There have been a couple circumstances when we were told what we need to do but we made the best of it and still had fun with it. Plus, as the group changes, our repertoire will kind of reflect on who’s in the ensemble at the time.

Also, we try to utilize the resources we have within our ensemble as well, so the repertoire we are using, at least in part, comes from the conservatory, from our composition majors.

Q: How can students join the ensemble?

Curtiss: Essentially, a lot depends on the size of our group. Being an a capella ensemble our numbers don’t really push too far into the double digits. If we have enough room, we will either hold an audition once or twice per academic year, depending on our need. We always ask people to audition as often as they can.

Q: Where can people get information about Stocktones?

Gianna: When auditions come around, it is all on the website. Getting in touch with us is best through any of our social media platforms. And someone will always be there to accept the messages and reply to any questions.

Q: Despite the pandemic, are you working on any new music?

Curtiss: Yes! In March, we had a premiere of a song that we collaboratively wrote, performed and video-recorded, all distanced. The piece is called “Hold on to Me.” It’s completely original. We used the committee system to put it all together. It was a very interesting process, collaborative composition is not something I would usually see very often, but it was a really amazing experience. Anybody can watch it on our Youtube channel now (or below).

Q: What is the best place to sing on the campus?

Gianna: When we did Singing Valentines last year in person, we got to sing in the cafeteria which was really cool. I think the combination of the open seating area, but also the more enclosed food area, made it sound really great and we could hear everybody, and it was super fun. The acoustics were great from where I was standing.

Dion: So, I have two places: the columns by the Knoles Hall and also right outside of Buck Hall there’s a little roofed area which has really nice acoustics.

Curtiss: My favorite would be the Choral Rehearsal Hall because that’s where we all are twice a week and it’s just awesome. I miss it dearly. It may be acoustically not the most intense space but we just have so much fun when we rehearse there, and so I think it’s unbeatable.

Q: Describe in one word what Pacific Stocktones mean to you.

Gianna: We actually were asked that question a long time ago and I think my answer remains the same, and that is family.

Dion: The word that came to my mind was dynamics, but more like family dynamics.

Curtiss: I was thinking family collaborative you know unified, but the one that I’m going to end up with is colorful. We have a great array of majors, races, sexualities, you know, we’ve had one of everything. We just love each other and want to make music and have fun. On one side it’s a collaborative family, a cohesive unit and on the other side there’s just so much color and life, it’s so vibrant and there’s never a dull moment.

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