One of the things that makes Cedarville University unique from other schools is its resident a capella group, The Inversions. This school year the group celebrates its fifth anniversary of making music.
The founder of the group was 2014 graduate Jeremy Wit, who came to Cedarville as a music education major.
Wit soon discovered Cedarville lacked an a capella group. So, he brought a group of friends together, and they began what would eventually become known as The Inversions.
Although the beginning stages were rough, after about a year, they became an official campus org. They initially had a hard time getting people to put in the time and effort and stay committed. However, as they gained popularity on campus and their talent increased, The Inversions finally took off.
Current president Mackenzie Kastelein explained that the name came about after a number of other names were considered first. Originally, the members contemplated the name Solo Vochi, but the group was not sold on the name. Then one of the members recommended The Inversions, which is a music theory term referring to the inverting of intervals, chords, melodies or contrapuntal lines of music. The rest of the group loved the name, and it stuck.
As the president of The Inversions, Kastelein has a number of roles besides simply singing in the group, and all of them are important.
“I’m the director. So, I lead rehearsals, and kind of just orchestrate and delegate different things to the officers of The Inversions,” Kastelein said. “So, just kind of help give ideas, help give guidance on how to guide the group in different areas like marketing or PR, and things like that. Then, I just work the music with them and help them learn the things we perform.”
“She literally does everything,” Ben Yoder said, one of the other members of the group.
Since members of The Inversions vary from freshman to senior, each year they hold auditions to fill the openings from graduated students. Each year is different, and every year they look for different things. As Kastelein described it, they are searching for types of voices that they do not have yet, as they are looking for different styles to round out the group. On average, there are about fifty people who audition for about four to five available spots. However, if they really like someone, they will ask them to audition again the next year.
“It’s kind of just about timing, and what we need,” Kastelein said. “And obviously about singing ability, too.”
The Inversions consists of 15 members, which is smaller than last year’s membership of 19, and the year before with 22.
With it being a music group, the natural thought would be that it would consist mainly of music or worship majors. However, that is not the case. Kastelein herself is a junior music major, but this semester’s group includes students in everything from exercise science to computer engineering to social work. Kastelein said it helps the group to have people who are more musically knowledgeable, to help with more of the logistics of music, but the group’s main concern is vocal talent.
During the past five years, the Inversions have performed and worked on a variety of events both for themselves and at the request of others.
“We always have one concert each semester in the opera house, that’s kind of like our big thing that we work towards,” Kastelein said. “We have done workshops in high schools. We’ve done festivals, we shoot music videos for ourselves and the university. We get all kinds of emails for things like, ‘Hey, can you sing at this thing?,’ so we just have to decide timing-wise if we can do it and all that kind of stuff.”
Despite the fact that Cedarville is a Christian university, The Inversions do not exclusively perform Christian music. A number of their songs are pop, but this semester they are also performing country songs, hymns, alternative, R&B, and Broadway. They try to perform multiple genres so everyone who comes to their concerts will find something that they like. The fact that Inversions does not solely perform Christian music gives them a chance to perform in places they may not have had the chance otherwise, such as public high schools.
Each spring in February The Inversions perform Singing Valentines. Significant others and friends enjoy employing the a capella group to sing to people, and the members of the org love getting to embarrass the recipients in class.
To date, The Inversions have recorded two EPs and two singles, and the songs that they have performed have come to them in a multitude of ways. Some are already known, some are personally written and it can all change with the semester, Kastelein said.
“We’ve had people in the group arrange for us before,” Kastelein said. “People in the group sometimes arrange songs for us, and we buy arrangements from professional arrangers. We have some arrangements custom made for our group, which means we’d be the first group to perform it.”
Kastelein said when it comes to choosing music, she strives to find a balance between challenging the group musically and choosing songs enjoyable to perform.
“When we pick our songs, we throw out song ideas for what we think would be good, and then we start seeking to see is there already an arrangement of it out there that’s challenging enough for us. And then, is it a song that we would want to have custom arranged for us, or is this a song that we could have someone in the group arrange? So, there’s just a lot of steps.”
Yoder said that as the group has grown and improved over the years, the music has changed as well.
“It’s part of the continuing excellence of the group, to continue to challenge the group. So, like, the music that we pick is different and more challenging than the music that was four semesters ago. That’s just kind of how we roll.”
As well as recording in the studio, The Inversions have also filmed three music videos: one for the song “Mad World” on their most recent EP, a Christmas song done for the university and a collaboration project done with two other local a capella groups, Forte and Eleventh Hour. The collaboration was done to give the proceeds from the single to the Red Cross for disaster relief.
Ideas for music videos are found in a variety of ways, whether the group seeks someone out, or someone comes to them with a request. It depends a lot on the project, and what song they think will best promote their EP. Everyone in the group has their own ideas on which song they should do, but it has over time become a refined process. With the group consisting of such a wide variety of years, majors and personalities, opinions widely vary. One thing that is for sure is that they find being part of The Inversions a great experience.
Yoder, as a senior, is one of the most veteran members of the group and is happy to see how far the group he joined when it was less than two years old has progressed.
“To see where the group has come, it’s just incredible,” Yoder said. “Like, the leadership is so organized, like the collaboration that we did last year, people would say ‘Everybody needs to be like The Inversions. Our schedule is regimented, everything is just really cut and clean. Obviously, you’re working with a big group of people, so there’s conflicts there, and sometimes people get all offended by some things, but on the whole, it’s a really good experience.”
Noah Darnell, a freshman engineering major, joined a couple of months ago and has not had a ton of experience with The Inversions. Yet, in spite of his short time with the group, he said he already loves it.
“I’ve been in a lot of music groups, but I’ve never been in an all-vocal music group, and I didn’t get to see The Inversions in their early stages, but coming into it my first year, it’s been really impressive,” Darnell said. “It is really organized compared to some other music groups that I’ve been in, and everybody in the group is great. I mean, phenomenal people, phenomenal musicians. It’s so much fun.”
Sophomore social work major Chelsea Spitzer has just started her second year with The Inversions and said she is more than happy with the social opportunities it has given her besides just the fun of singing.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Spitzer said. “I came in as a freshman, and I’m really quiet and everything, so it was a really good way to meet people that have the same love for singing as me, so I would just say that it’s always been a really positive thing for me. It is challenging, but it’s a lot of fun, and it’s rewarding to perform what we’ve learned.”
No matter what people’s interests are, there is something in The Inversions for everyone, whether as a part of the group or just attending a concert. The group has been through a lot and a lot of challenges over the years, but the dedication of the members has sustained it.
Members said they consider themselves a family, and they consider the group a chance to challenge themselves musically. After being around for five years, The Inversions is going strong,and appears to be set to be around for many more years to come.
Shelby Ahlborg is a sophomore theatre major and A&E writer for Cedars. She enjoys drawing, listening to movie scores, and writing fiction stories.