By Ashley Glazebrook
What do you call a group of singers who perform without instrumental accompaniment? An a cappella group. What do you call an a cappella group that combines culture, community and song? Isang Himig.
Created 10 years ago as a Filipino group, Isang Himig has evolved into a prominent multicultural unit on the UC Santa Cruz campus. The name of the group means “one voice” in Tagalog, the language of the Philippines. This aptly reflects how the group combines different genres and music cultures into one collective sound.
Rachelle Foronda, second-year student and Isang Himig co-coordinator, explained that the group is trying to change the assumption that Isang Himig is strictly a Filipino group.
“Traditionally, we’ve been a Filipino Student Association organization,” Foronda said. “But we really want to be a multicultural choir and a community for other cultures and other kinds of music.”
The “other kinds of music” range from Usher to the Beach Boys to John Mayer and from reggae to rock — anything that can be sung as a group.
“In terms of music culture, we have everything from Christian to country to hip-hop,” Foronda said. “But we really want to include other ethnic cultures so we can sing in other languages and really explore what music is to other people.”
For the coming year, Isang Himig will focus on three things: publicity, multiculturalness and choir basics.
Isang Himig performs at open mics, college nights, and the annual Pilipino Cultural Celebration, but its members would like to broaden their experiences to include outdoor concerts and performances at other UC campuses.
In terms of fundraisers, Isang Himig is in the midst of organizing a birthday-gram system which will be modeled after their Valentine’s Day grams. For a small fee, a group of singers catch people’s significant others and serenade them with a love song.
However, one of the most defining characteristics of Isang Himig is the way it makes its members feel. Dennis Madamba, fourth-year student and co-coordinator, leads the beginners. He wants to ensure that they have as good an experience as he did.
“Isang Himig was the first community I felt a part of when I came here,” Madamba said. “What made me stay was the fact that everyone was so awesome and that family aspect. The reason I wanted to become a coordinator was because being one of the older members, I owed it to this community.”
While the practice time is about four to five hours a week, Angelica Thumm, third-year student and Isang Himig member, said that the work does not overwhelm the members, and that everyone is eager to be the best they can be.
“As a member, I know that a lot of people are excited to be pushed through the boundaries of what they know,” Thumm said. “They’re excited to learn from someone who is experienced, to get better and to reach the full potential that they have.”
Isang Himig’s open arms and culturally accepting ways ensure that there will be many more to join their cause and community.
“We would like to find a space for everyone in our community,” Foronda said. “If anyone just wants to hang out, they can hang out.”