Agnes A Capella concert has all the elements of an entertaining evening
By Madeline Everett, Arts & Entertainment Editor
Agnes A Cappella had the audience clapping, cheering and laughing along to the music at their fall concert on Nov. 15.
Agnes A Cappella is St. Olaf’s resident soprano and alto a capella group and includes students, Katie Anderson ’20, Emily Bohlig ’20, Alina Villa ’20, Jessica Folson ’21, Emma Borkowski ’21, Meg Swanson ’21, Gabbie Hotlzman ’21, Chloe Militzer ’21, Kylie Landa ’22 and Mila New ’22.
This year, their fall concert focused on the theme of “Fire, Water, Earth and Air.” The set began with a medley of rain themed songs, including “It’s Raining Men,” by The Weather Girls, ‘’Thunder” by Imagine Dragons and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” from “The Wizard of Oz.”
Watch the video by Teague Peterson-McGuire and Claire Strother below
After the introductory medley, each member or the group took turns performing solo pieces with the rest of the group acting as the mandatory a capella backup. Villa was an essential part of the backup with their beat-boxing prowess, and the group expressed thanks at the end to Folson, who they said “gives us all of our notes to sing every single song we sing.”
Notable solos included Anderson’s heart-wrenching performance of “Turned to Stone” by Ingrid Michaelson and Holtzman’s energetic rendition of “Mr Blue Sky” by The Electric Light Orchestra.
“Hill Harmonics,” St. Olaf’s mixed-voice a cappella group performed three songs during the concert’s intermission. The group’s wobbly but comedic set was a definite crowd pleaser. You can check out Hill Harmonics in a full concert on Saturday, Nov. 23 at 6:30 p.m. at the Pause Mane Stage.
The concert included a decent amount of group participation – at one point, the singers taught the audience how to sing some basic a cappella techniques and, during intermission, Agnes members invited the audience to play a Kahoot filled with fun trivia about each Anges member.
At times, the balance seemed a little off, with the background singers drowning out the lead. However, the shaky balance could have been due to questionable tech, as deafening screeches occasionally filled the Pause, making everyone in the audience flinch.
The concert may not have been pitch perfect, but the Agnes A Cappella put on an entertaining, captivating performance Friday night.
Photos: Claire Strother/Manitou Messenger
2019: The Year of Horror Movies
By Robert Piwonka, columnist
Against all odds, 2019 has delivered more evidence of a genuine horror-film renaissance
2019 has been a year of welcome surprises for movies. Comic-book movie naysayers have been silenced with Marvel’s “Avengers Endgame” and DC’s “Joker” raising quality standards of the genre. A new throwback mob movie from Martin Scorsese has been embraced with universal acclaim despite its unlikely Netflix home. This year has even seen unprecedented success in the international film market, with Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite” clearing $100 million at the box office and setting limited-release U.S. opening weekend records. Perhaps the most miraculous of the surprises, however, has been the affirmation of a legitimate renovation of the horror genre.
This is a renovation that has been in the works for many years now. At the cusp of the 2010s, the genre was saturated by franchises like “Paranormal Activity” and “Saw.” Despite having critical receptions as low as their budgets, Hollywood’s gore and jumpscare stuffed seasonal franchises dominated the market. Industry experts worried over diminishing annual profits of horror movies. Sans a few indie and international outings like “The Babadook” and “It Follows,” the genre was seeming increasingly disposable and stale.
The latter half of the decade, however, has suggested more promising prospects for horror fanatics. Thanks to companies like A24, more obscure and artistically driven horror films like “The Witch,” “It Comes at Night” and “Hereditary” found widespread distribution and attention. Hollywood horror movies began to find its groove again, with mainstream hits such as “It” and “A Quiet Place” each raking in over $300 million in the box office.
However, the real game changer was perhaps the critical and commercial success of Jordan Peele’s 2017 film “Get Out.” “Get Out” was a blockbuster horror sensation, becoming the first horror movie to compete for the Best Picture Oscar since 1991’s “The Silence of the Lambs” (Peele took home the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for the film, becoming the first black man to do so). And among 2019’s most popular and critically acclaimed films are horror flicks: “Us,” “Midsommar” and “The Lighthouse.”
“Us,” Peele’s second horror outing, has been every bit as commercially and critically popular as “Get Out.” “Us” earned $250 million – becoming the most financially successful original horror film of all time. Peele’s films have been noted for their carefully constructed socially commentary, with “Get Out” and “Us” being interpreted as criticisms of this era of so-called “post-racial” America. Peele has also made good use of his famed background in comedy, splicing crowd-pleasing comic relief into his films.
“Midsommar” comes from “Hereditary” writer and director Ari Aster, whose freshman effort shocked audiences, going on to be hailed as “the scariest movie since ‘The Exorcist’” by certain critics. For “Midsommar,” Aster decided to downplay the horror elements of the film, focusing instead on creating a mesmerizing atmosphere. On top of much play with melodrama and trauma, Aster’s films have been noted for their arthouse influences with allusions to the films of Ingmar Bergman and Andrei Tarkovsky. “Midsommar,” despite positive critical reception, has been the subject of much debate, with as many people disparaging it as hailing it a masterpiece.
Robert Egger’s “The Lighthouse,” however, may be the year’s horror stand out. Fans have been calling the film a bona-fide modern classic since it opened to rave reviews at Cannes. Like his freshman effort, “The Witch,” Egger’s film is a meticulously researched and crafted New England period horror film. Despite only featuring two actors in the entire film (Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe), audiences have been entranced with the film, rallying for Academy attention for both actors. Eggers shares similar arthouse influences with Aster; the two have discussed their admiration for Bergman on a podcast.
Peele, Aster and Eggers have found much success in their respective lanes of the horror genre, each releasing successful sophomore efforts in 2019. As the year has shown, despite anxieties about an increasingly changing landscape, film as a serious cultural force is not going anywhere. In fact – as perhaps is the case for horror films – it might just be getting started.
Graphic by Thomas Hardy/Manitou Messenger
By Alexia Nizhny, Opinions Editor
It took me about a year and a half, but I think I can say with full certainty that I have exhausted the St. Olaf dating pool. As a first-year, hookups and dating seemed inconsequential – my romantic life was an opportunity to explore and have fun. That exploration, however, has slowly developed some unintended consequences.
At dinner the other day, I was talking with my friends about an ex-boyfriend of mine. I told a fun anecdote about a time his close friend Ruby* and I went to dinner together. I had nothing against Ruby. She was a nice girl who always treated me with respect and kindness. But Ruby is a close friend of my ex-boyfriend and as a means of disassociating myself from any romantic feelings towards him, I figured it would be best for my mental health to avoid Ruby. After all, Ruby was a part of my ex-boyfriend’s world, and we belonged to different friend groups, so it was easy to keep those worlds separate.
“Ruby? She’s my SI instructor for religion!” My friend exclaimed.
“No way,” another friend chimed in, “She lives right across the hall from me!”
I realized then that our worlds were not as distant as I had previously thought. Somehow my ex-boyfriend's world overlapped with my friendships and I was at a loss. Sure, I could keep adding people to my “avoid-eye-contact-at-all-costs” list, but I had already watched it grow exponentially over the past year as I added the names of my recent ex-boyfriend and, by association his friends and their friends.
In a small school, it is impossible to avoid the ghost of relationships past. It is tempting to try and distance yourself from old heartaches, but learning to confront your post break-up reality is part of moving on. People have as much power over you as you give them, and unnaturally trying to keep your worlds separate can be draining. Especially considering that memories of your failed romances will haunt every inch of this school. It is at Old Main where you first spotted that cute person in your 9:00 a.m. BTS-T class. It is at the Cage where you had your first coffee date or at Viking Theater when you went to see Incredibles 2 together. For me, it was at the Caf when I carried my food to my table.
Just as I was setting my tray down, I look up to see my ex-boyfriend one table over. He was facing me, laughing with his friends. We had not yet made eye contact, so in that moment I had a choice. I could either take my tray downstairs and eat in the Pause or take a seat at that table. Whatever decision I was going to make would say something significant about me – my coping mechanisms, my conflict resolution tactics and my insecurities. Was I going to live the rest of my time at St. Olaf in fear of an array of college boys, or was I going to confront my relationship ghosts head on? Sitting down would mean I was ready to let go.
So, I took my tray and went to go eat in the Pause. However, as I turned the corner and walked past the dishroom I stopped. I glanced at my reflection in the window and then at my uneaten food. Refusing to acknowledge my history was ironically what was giving it so much power. By actively avoiding my past I was not allowing room for personal growth. That is never a healthy way to live.
When navigating relationships at St. Olaf, it is important to develop healthy coping mechanisms in case the relationship ends. We are young and bound to make mistakes when it comes to love. Sometimes those mistakes cost us a few friends or partners, but hiding from your past will make your time here so much more unpleasant. Especially on such a tiny campus, it is practically impossible to entirely forget old relationships. You will see them, and St. Olaf will somehow remind you of their existence. You have a choice, too: you can hide from your ghosts or let them go.
I took one last look at my reflection in the window. My heart was racing and I stared myself down. I had made my choice. So, I walked myself back to the table at the Caf, and took a seat.
*names have been changed.
Graphic by Thomas Hardy/Manitou Messenger