Countdown to Palooza: Meet the Villanova Spires



Alison Nieto Culture Editor

With Palooza right around the corner, it’s no surprise that the pressure of the event is beginning to set in. As all groups continue to perfect their semester long work, culture editor Alison Nieto caught up with the Villanova Spires to discuss their hopes for this year’s Palooza.

The Villanova Spires were founded as a subset of the Villanova Singers, the University’s all-male on campus choir. The Spires were founded in 1961 and are proud to be the University’s oldest A Cappella group. The group expressed excitement at the proximity of this year’s Palooza, saying that the general feeling surrounding the event is hype.

Looking back at their work from last semester, the group discussed their set-list and the future of their group. The most difficult song for the group to perfect last semester was “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” originally recorded by Marvin Gaye and Tammie Terrell. 

“I think “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” was probably the hardest song from last semester for us to perfect because it was a little outside of our comfort zone, like songs that we typically do, and there were two soloists and we had a couple key things going on in that song as well,” junior Athul Rajesh said. The song, featured at last semester winter concert featured sophomore Emmet Fucgina and Joseph Mann and reflected the group’s rarely seen laid-back vibes.  

“I think our most rewarding song during any of our concerts is probably “Changes” because that’s our alumni song, and the boys usually show up to support us so it’s nice singing with them again,” Rajesh said. The group likes to have fun during rehearsal but also really focus on the music and sounding as good as possible. For that reason, the group believes that the most rewarding song in their repertoire is their alumni song.

“It’s kind of our go-to song if we’re struggling during practice, we have to pull it together sometimes,” Fucigna said. “We did that earlier last semester. It kind of just gets us in the zone.” 

Since the group has been around for such a long time, it’s no surprise that as members come and go, the ultimate sound and vibe of the group changes. The recent song choices and performances reflect where the group stands and where it intends to go. “I think the best part about [our song choice] is that we have so much variation and it shows that we kind of branch out a little bit from different things,” Rajesh said.

“I think that we pick songs to fit the various soloists that we have and to showcase the different talent that we have within the group,” junior Tony Rozman said. “So, picking songs that can fit different styles or sounds is a really great way to create variety and to show off the many different talented people that are in this group. It’s really fun to have that in mind and show off our sound in that way.” 

Musically, the group has also evolved its sound through the difficulty of the arrangements done. “Our arrangements have gotten more complex since I’ve joined the group,” Rozman said. “Which is really great because it shows how we progressed musically and how we can handle that increased level of difficulty and its really fun to set a higher bar for ourselves and to chase that.” 

Looking back at last year’s Palooza, Rajesh was quick to say he hoped the sunglasses from the group’s performance last year make a comeback. After the laughter subsided, junior Ashay Grover answered, “The resiliency of getting together a good final product and putting in the work. We worked really hard and we’re working equally as hard this year, if not harder.” 

In looking forward to making this year’s performance different, the group responded that their general preparedness is something they looked to enhance this year. 

“One thing we wanted to change was being a little bit more prepared this year, so rather than back loading a lot of the work we had to do and having a ton of rehearsals the week of Palooza, we planned a little bit better,” Rajesh said. “We had a busy week this past week but now we are going to chill out and rest up for Palooza.”

“This year, we’re trying to reduce the amount of demand on our voice the week of the event so that we can sound our best,” Rozman said. 

“Yeah, we aren’t speaking the week of Palooza,” Rajesh joked and the room erupted in laughter once again. 

Looking forward, the group couldn’t decide which song they were most excited to perform. “There’s something unique about each of the songs that we’re doing that we think is really awesome,” Rajesh said. “So, we’re excited about all of them for completely different reasons. It’s tough to just pick one. We’re also super excited to hear all the other groups because it’s a wonderful community here.” 

“I think you can derive a lot of inspiration depending on what you hear the other groups do,” Rozman added. “From that, you’re able to think ‘Oh we could do something like this and sound really good,’ or kind of just appreciate the talent of the groups and how what they do is so different. You can really enjoy what they accomplish musically that you wouldn’t do as well.” 

The group agreed that especially last year, it had a lot of moments where it was incredibly appreciative of the talent in the other groups and inspired by their performances.

Specifically, with their set, the group expects the audience to be most excited with the build of their set. “We got our fun song, we’ve got our build song, we’ve got our big song so I think the audiences should be expecting a lot of different types of styles and it’s hopefully going to resonate with them,” junior Tom Sangiorgio said. 

“I think to be emotionally moved to because we are closing Palooza so we want to leave an impression on our last song,” Rajesh said. 

“I also think part of it is we put so much work into this and our final product will definitely show that,” Fucigna said. “I think people will be there and hopefully think ‘Wow, these guys worked their butts off.’  We want to put it all out there.” 

The group is special, because it is the oldest group on campus and it continues traditions from its founding in 1961. The Spires push themselves to accomplish as much as possible but also having a great time together and developing strong friendships within the group. “It’s not always just about the music, these are some of my best friends and I could totally see all these guys here at my wedding and in the future afterwards,” Rajesh said. “It starts with music but it’s so much more than that.”