Duhawkapella Finds Its Voice After COVID Silence

Duhawkapella, Loras College’s acapella group, performed their annual Christmas show in 2019 and had their sights set on their next chance to entertain on campus again in the spring of 2020. Unfortunately, that chance never materialized.

Like every other organization on campus, Duhawkapella felt the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic acutely. For a singing group, the ability to gather and share vocal harmonies was not available. Once the academic year began in August, their usual practice routine was not doable under the safety restrictions, so the members had to get creative.

“Last year was a weird year of rehearsals, to say the least, Daniel Feldhake (’21) said. “We split up practices to accommodate for space. We had two groups, so rehearsals felt more like workshops. We weren’t sure how they were going to go, but they allowed for direct time to specifically look at spots in our music that needed more attention, and they allowed for our schedules to be free later in the evening.”

For Feldhake, while practice was important, it wasn’t the priority for the gatherings. 

“Our biggest goal for rehearsals was to keep the culture of the group strong. What makes Duhawkappella special is the friends and the memories along the way. While the music is important, it’s secondary, so we wanted to make sure we kept that special environment regardless of how rehearsals looked,” he said.

Sixteen months after their last performance, Duhawkapella finally gathered to perform for an audience on April 15. Backed by the Loras Jazz Band, the group shared their harmonies with friends and family on the MARC lawn.

“It was so refreshing to be able to perform live with so many friends, peers, and Duhawks! It was so special to be able to perform with the seniors one last time that welcomed me into this group when I was a freshman,” Duhawkapella member Jacob Till (’22) said. “It was great to see the faces of family and friends out in the crowd at our performance. Many of those people have supported us throughout our college careers so far, and it was exciting to welcome them back to campus so we could share our gifts and talents with them. I could not imagine a better way to end the school year than making music with my friends, and to be able to do it for a live audience was exhilarating.”

Feldhake agreed, “It was so magical. We have been working so hard to get back to a time where we could perform, so to see the huge amount of support from campus was amazing. It makes me so glad that we are able to share our talents. I know I appreciated the support so much; it was a perfect night to be able to wrap up my time as a musician on campus and have one last amazing concert.”

The members of Duhawkappella are Feldhake, Till, Jacob Heidenreich (’21), Max Rutledge (’23), Sam Martin (’21), Nate Yep (’24), Brett Batkoff (’22), Michael Manternach (’23), Celina Feldhake (’24), Paige Diebold (’21), Haleigh Bries (’21), Emily Lemire (’22), Grace Henrich (’23), Noelle Javurek (’23), and Annie Flanagan (’22).

You can view Duhawkapella’s performance on their YouTube page.

About Loras College
Founded in 1839, Loras College leverages its historic roots as Iowa’s first college, the second oldest Catholic college west of the Mississippi River and one of the nation’s 10 diocesan colleges to deliver challenging, life-changing experiences as part of its residential, Catholic setting. In 2020, Loras was ranked the 16th Best Regional College in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report and one of America’s Top 200 Most Loved Colleges/Universities by Forbes Magazine for the fourth consecutive year. Loras students ranked No. 2 in the world as part of the global Peeptrade Investment Challenge while a second group ranked No. 4. For the 12th consecutive year, Loras Media Studies student-led television station (LCTV) was named the TV Station of the Year by the Iowa College Media Association (ICMA).