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#YouMaine: Renaissance singers reflect on their a capella experiences

Thursday afternoon, three members of Renaissance met in the Bear’s Den to get some work done. Second-year animal science student and business manager of Renaissance Jennifer Shevlin-Fernandes and fourth-year music education students Anneliese Smith and Gwen Hill, the director of the group, spoke of their paths to joining Renaissance and some of the performances the group has coming up.

Shevlin-Fernandes had some a capella experience from high school, where she was the first freshman to be in the a capella group, serving as the business manager of that group for two years. Renaissance was one of the reasons that she came to UMaine and now she hopes to have that influence on potential students.

“My freshman and senior year, the University Singers came to my high school and I saw Renaissance and I was like ‘holy crap they’re so good.’ And so that’s actually why I came to UMaine, because of UMaine Renaissance, and now here I am in Renaissance and here I am as the business manager… I get to decide where we go and maybe there will be someone who’s like ‘dang I want to go to UMaine now because of Renaissance,’” Shevlin-Fernandes said.

Smith and Hill were first involved in the University Singers before starting in Renaissance.

“I was in Singers for a year and I watched them perform and a lot of my close friends were in Renaissance,” Hill said.

Smith wanted to get involved in Renaissance earlier, but due to class conflicts she wasn’t able to until her third year at the university.

“My first year at UMaine I wasn’t in the Singers, but I had heard a few songs from Renaissance,” Smith said.

Her second year she joined the University Singers and later Renaissance.

Renaissance does gigs on campus with their next big performance being their Fall Show on Dec. 1 at 6:30 p.m. in the Cyrus Pavilion. They also go on winter and spring tours around Maine and New England. Their winter tour will be from Jan. 16 to Jan. 18 and Shevlin-Fernandes is working on solidifying the schedule. On tour, they will visit junior and senior high schools, while also singing with local a capella groups. Although they will be traveling mostly in Maine for their winter tour, their spring tour will span throughout the New England region.

The group has two main goals on their tour. One is to show their group to the public and try to convince people to come to UMaine. The other goal is to convince people to keep music in their lives.

“We are advocating for people to keep music in their lives and not just stop doing music, like chorus or band, when they leave high school. Even if they don’t want to be a music major they can still have music in their lives,” Hill said

Right now the group only has three music education majors in a group of 12 women.

Each member has a different reason for joining and loving the group and a cappella music is one of them.

“I love pretending to be instruments. It’s so fun,” Smith said. “I remember the year before I joined the group and they did ‘Uptown Funk’ and there were two people in the back pretending to be trumpets. We had also done ‘Uptown Funk’ in the marching band and I was doing the actual trumpet part. And I came in and was ready to show you the actual trumpet fingerings.”

For Hill, she loved how all different people come together through their mutual love of music, despite all their differences.

“We are all such unique individuals with such different lives, and I find it incredibly beautiful that we can set aside all of our differences to do something we are all passionate about, which is making music,” Hill said.

Shevlin-Fernandes, like Smith, joined the group because of her love for a cappella.

“Creating music with our voices, being able to do every single part of a song — you hear that all the time. And I think it’s really cool. You are connected with the other people you are singing with in general, but with a cappella you are really emotional. It brings out a lot of emotion and passion that people don’t always bring out in regular conversation,” Shevlin-Fernandes said.

Renaissance’s next event is their Fall Show followed by the winter tour. To get more information on the group you can visit their Facebook page at

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