“What always motivated me, and what excites the students, is being able to sing songs that are more pioneering or ahead of the curve,” said music director/arranger Ben Spalding, head choral director of Centerville High School. “We’re always looking for ways to push this group forward and build more excitement. We’ve found that contemporary a cappella is the key because it is music the students are already listening to.
“I tailor the music to their needs or loves, and every year is a bit different, but we’re able to arrange the songs to suit their style and strengths. We also work with Ben Bram, who arranges for Pentatonix. We strive to be the best so we try to work with the best in the business.”
The first-ever high school a cappella group to release an all-originals CD written by its members, Forte has had great success writing original material. “Life’s So Lyrical” was nominated for five Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards (CARAs) and won for Best Overall High School CD. “Uncharted Heart,” also nominated for five CARAs, won for Best High School Song and was runner-up for Best High School Album and Best Pop/Rock Album. “Recovery” finds the troupe embracing deep themes and broad scope.
“This is our first originals album that tells a story from start to finish,” Spalding said. “The album begins darkly exploring various hardships of life including breakups, anxiety and depression, but the song ‘Recovery’ is the pinnacle of the album, the turning point taking the story into light and a place of hope.”
“The story takes many twists and turns and also deals with relationships,” added Forte Co-President Natalie Spiroff. “We want to make music that people feel and can connect with. We’re a very close group with a shared appreciation for music. Whether it’s heartbreak or hope, ‘Recovery’ is very universal.”
“I enjoy songwriting,” echoed Emmaline Carter. “It’s cathartic.”
Members include Co-President Kyle Bates (a recent standout as heartthrob Link Larkin in Muse Machine’s exhilarating production of “Hairspray”), Anneliese Bohlman, Ben Chico, Grace Chico, Cecily Dowd, Jackson Guirnalda, Jared Huntley, Brad Mraz, Gabby Reynolds, Sophia Rosado, Faith Simmons and Annie Zimmerman.
Having already worked with well-known talents in the industry such as singer/guitarist Andy Grammer and pop star Jojo, Forte continues to raise its impressive profile. In fact, Deke Sharon, musical director of “The Sing-Off” and the hit “Pitch Perfect” franchise, invited the troupe to be among the select ensembles performing at a celebratory a cappella concert he will be conducting/hosting Sunday, April 9, at Carnegie Hall. The group is fundraising to cover expenses.
“So many of my favorite performers have played Carnegie Hall,” added Dowd, seen last season as spunky PB in the Human Race Theatre Company’s local premiere of “One Slight Hitch.” “It’s very exciting. It’ll be so much fun for us to share the experience together.”
“This will mark the first time the choral program at Centerville High School will have performed at Carnegie Hall,” said Spalding, who co-authored the 2015 comprehensive guide “A Cappella” with Sharon and Brody McDonald. “It’s a huge honor. After all, Carnegie Hall is one of the most prestigious venues in the world.”
WANT TO GO?
What: Forte "Recovery" CD Release Concert
Where: Performing Arts Center of Centerville High School, 500 E. Franklin St., Centerville
When: Saturday, Feb. 11, 7:30 p.m.
More info: forteacappella.com