By Carley Stavis
Arts Reporter

When Acquirefest was first held last June, the 20 singers who made up the UC Santa Cruz Acquire a cappella group rallied close to 500 fans who came out to hear them harmonize. According to Chris Crawford, who founded the group in February of 2007, this year’s festival represents the culmination of a dizzying ride since the group began singing.

“It’s been really exciting to see the group take shape in the way it has,” Crawford said. “When we put on the first Acquirefest last year it was in an effort, mainly, to get the singers excited about this new organization they were a part of and to find the people on campus who would love the music as much as us. It’s certainly been a really fast, really wild ride, and [the singers and organizers] worked really hard for the past year and four months.”

Acquire is based on an organizational method that includes a combination of art and business savvy. Singers are given the opportunity to do what they love, and those on the business end get to work in the fast-paced world of producing a musical event — in this case, the largest a cappella celebration on campus.

Acquire singer and assistant director Andrea Aquino has crossed the boundaries between the music and the business aspects of the group.

“We arrange all our own songs, we all put in hours and hours each week learning music and choreography, marketing to students on campus and getting our name out there,” Aquino said. “There are people working on designing posters and flyers, filming, lighting, everything for Acquirefest. This group and this festival are major passions for everyone involved, and Acquirefest shows not only all of the time and energy that we’ve all put in, but the love we have for the group itself and for bringing people together with music.”

Six of the best a cappella groups from four different Northern California universities will descend on UCSC May 30 for a night of vocal harmonizing. Acquire and older groups Cloud Nine and Isang Himig will represent Santa Cruz, and the Afterglow will make the trip down from UC Davis. Stanford’s Harmonics and UC Berkeley’s Decadence will also perform.

While styles vary from group to group, a spirit of camaraderie pervades the entire event, Acquire director Robby Sumner said.

“In the world of a cappella there are definite rivalries, but that isn’t really felt by any of the groups in Acquirefest,” Sumner said. “On our end, we work really hard to make sure that the groups that come to UCSC for this event feel welcome, and that every aspect of their visit goes smoothly. It’s true that there is a lot of difference between the a cappella that comes out of Stanford versus out of Berkeley or Santa Cruz or Davis, but that’s what makes the festival entertaining and we all learn from one another.”

Sumner and Aquino both cite the diversity that Acquirefest highlights as important reasons they put on the event in the first place.

“None of the groups at Acquirefest or at any of the schools where these groups are coming from want to be just another a cappella group,” Sumner said. “We all have a desire to develop our own name and our own style. But there is also this awesome sense of community between us, where we can grow with each other and away from each other, and we hope the audience sees, appreciates and ultimately enjoys that aspect of what we’ve all come together for.”

Acquirefest will be held at the Stevenson Event Center on May 30 at 8 p.m.