IU Bloomington a cappella group Hooshir will open for Vocalosity at IU Auditorium

Hooshir rehearsal

Hooshir music director Becky Mann warms up the group during a rehearsal at the Helene G. Simon Hillel Center. Hooshir will open for Vocalosity Oct. 20. Photos by James Brosher.

Post by IU Newsroom intern Amanda N. Marino:

Students stand around a piano on the second floor of the Helene G. Simon Hillel Center rehearsing for an upcoming performance. Nobody is playing the piano, though. All the music the group is making comes from their bodies.

Hooshir, an a cappella group at Indiana University Bloomington, recently won a contest to open for Vocalosity Oct. 20 at IU Auditorium.

When they sing, Hooshir’s energy is intense and fills a room. All of them move to the music as they sing an a cappella rendition of “Larger Than Life” by the Backstreet Boys and a compilation of “Demons” and “It’s Time” by Imagine Dragons.

Musical director Becky Mann, a senior, explained that Hooshir formed in 2006 when the White House called IU Hillel’s rabbi, Sue Silberberg, looking for a Jewish a cappella group that could sing at its annual Hanukkah party. Silberberg said they had a group, and promptly formed it when she hung up the phone.

Auditions were quickly held, and after that first performance the group stayed together under the name “Hooshir,” which roughly translates to “he who sings” in Hebrew.

Mann said the group performs a mix of Israeli pop, American pop and Jewish sacred music.

Members of Hooshir including music director Becky Mann, center, rehearse at the Helene G. Simon Hillel Center on Monday, Oct. 17, 2016. The group will open for Vocalosity on Thursday at the IU Auditorium.

Becky Mann, center, loves the music and friendship shared by performing in Hooshir.

Hooshir director Halle Fromson, a sophomore, said the group still travels to synagogues across the country to perform traditional Jewish sacred music from the group’s repertoire.

“We kind of have this Middle Eastern sound we bring to our music,” she said.

Mann, who studies Jewish sacred music, is the only senior in Hooshir this year.

She said that so far this year their gigs have mainly been performed in Hebrew. Opening for Vocalosity will allow them to tap into the pop songs they have been working on recently.

Equipment manager Kiehl Carlquist, a sophomore, said it felt like Hooshir was still locking in on a sound and blending while they filmed the audition tape. It takes collaboration to take sheet music off the page and make it work in a performance space.

“It can get a little hectic,” Mann said, explaining that the group has to maintain a balance of reworking and refining songs.

Fromson said as they sing through a piece, if something doesn’t sound quite right, they will stop and rework it until they find a sound they like.

“We don’t want to get up there and have it not be polished,” she said.

It’s a very supportive environment, Carlquist said, attributing the ability to collaborate on the fly to the closeness of the group. He said they spend a lot of time playing with sound and trying to establish the style in which they want to perform.

He said that even though about half of Hooshir’s 14 members are new, their friendships are well-developed. The group’s  members are “personally my favorite people,” Carlquist said.

Halle Fromson, center, is director of Hooshir.

Halle Fromson, center, is director of Hooshir.

The balance of fun and focus helps them bring something great to their performances, Mann said. At times, the final piece only resembles what was originally written as Hooshir rehearses and makes the song grow.

Even when rehearsals and performances get stressful, the group members always have each other, and can share the fun that comes with performing. “The friendships that we build in it are so strong,” Mann said.

The group was overjoyed when it found out they had been chosen to open for Vocalosity, a touring show created by “Pitch Perfect” music director Deke Sharon.

“We were super excited because we love singing in the IU Auditorium,” she said.

Not only does the venue have phenomenal acoustics and allow each singer to wear his or her own microphone, but it also affords Hooshir the opportunity to experience the energy of a crowd of peers in their largest gig this year.

Carlquist said the group loves to interact with the crowd and hopes Hooshir will bring some of its best energy to the upcoming performance.

“We try and bring the best of ourselves up on stage,” he said.

To see the show

WHAT: Vocalosity, appearing with Hooshir as the opening act
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20
WHERE: IU Auditorium, 1211 E. Seventh St.
TICKETS: $23 to $41 for the general public and $13 to $36 for IU Bloomington students with a valid ID. Tickets may be purchased online or in person at the IU Auditorium Box Office, as well as through Ticketmaster.com, all Ticketmaster outlets or charge by phone at 800-745-3000. The IU Auditorium Box Office is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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