Orange Appeal, the first all male a capella group on SU’s campus, was founded in 1997, and has been serving up funky beats ever since. Always clothed in their signature “chucks and ties,” a performance uniform consisting of Chuck Taylor’s, dark wash jeans, a black button up, and a tie, these fellas rehearse three times weekly to keep their sets crisp and their harmonies tight.
With 16 members, Orange Appeal, known as OA, has a strong sound. Four part harmonies are the norm for the group, with Josh Fayer, Kevin O’Donnell, Brian Buseck, and Ryan Carmody on bass; Ross Chua, Wing Luck Chin, Todd Anastos, and Steven Szachara on baritone; Jake Goz, Erik Bakken, Marcelo Nylund, Giacomo Guida, and Trevor Rittman on Tenor II; and Brad Meader, Jackson Giampino, Andrew Tongue, and Jason McGill on Tenor I. Additionally, splitting up each vocal part into “top” and “bottom” allows OA to craft arrangements with up to eight part harmonies.
But who creates these arrangements? How does a song you hear on the radio, like “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran, become an a capella piece that you may hear at a performance? That responsibility falls on music director Brad Meader, who has been training Ryan Carmody and Ross Chua to take over his position when he graduates. Meader does not come up with all of the songs Orange Appeal performs, but he does take suggestions from the whole group and filters out the ones that just won’t work. When picking songs, he first makes sure that the whole set will have a blend of styles that he classifies as “both ballads and bops.” As far as the individual pieces goes, “A good a capella song typically has to be chordal. A lot of songs today are just a vocalist, bassline, and beat – which is tough to work with,” Meader says. Once he finds a song that meets this requirement, he starts making the arrangement by figuring out the chord progression and transcribing the song into sheet music. “Then we make it our own, put the Orange Appeal twist on it. We try to be as creative as we can, be it a reimagining of the chord progression, a restyling of the song, or a mashup with something else,” Meader says.
In the past, OA has performed classics such as Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back,” Brittney Spears’s “Toxic,” and a mash-up of “Bye Bye Bye,” “I Want It That Way,” and “MmmBop” by all your favorite 2000’s boy bands. Orange Appeal has recently performed pop hits such as “Attention” by Charlie Puth, “Don’t Wanna Know” by Maroon 5, and “Friends” by Justin Bieber.
Orange Appeal’s current president is Steven Szachara, affectionately known as “Schmeeb.”As president, Szachara gives a brief at the start of rehearsals, coordinates performances, manages the budget, runs executive board, makes sure all the members know where they have to be and what is expected of them, and has final say on mostly everything OA does. Szachara sums up the essence of Orange Appeal by saying it’s “a brotherhood bonded through song and sweat with an alumni network from all over the globe. Once you’re an Orange Appeal member, you become a part of that network for the rest of your life.” Szachara feels OA has been pivotal to his college career, and it’s safe to assume that many other members feel the same.
Orange Appeal’s invitational will take place March 30th. If you can’t make it to one of their live shows, you can check out their album Unpeeled, available on Spotify.