Courtesy of Leanne Rubinstein
The University of Colorado Boulder is home to seven a cappella choirs filled with vocalists of all majors who love to sing just for the fun of it. This environment allows for a diverse group of people to come together through their shared knack for singing.
Extreme Measures, CU’s oldest a cappella group, is home to a number of talented musicians, creating a mosaic of dissimilarities.
Anuja Gore sings with Extreme Measures as a soprano.
Gore is a sophomore from Fort Collins studying neuroscience and psychology. Her first introduction to music was through her mother, who is classically trained in Indian Hindustani music.
“When I was five or six, my mom sat both my brother and I down with a tanpura machine and taught us the scales,” she said, describing a radio-like electronic instrument with dials that can be turned to adjust pitch.
Dissatisfied with the options available to her, Gore did not involve herself in the musical community in her grade school years. Because of this, she was immediately on board when a friend suggested they audition for a cappella in college.
Auditions and callbacks for three of the seven groups on campus lead to both of them choosing Extreme Measures as their favorite.
“Since I didn’t really have a music outlet in high school, I’d just sing by myself for hours,” Gore said. “Having a cappella rehearsal is a way that I don’t waste my time doing that. … I can get out my music in two hours instead of annoying my roommates by singing loudly.”
In addition to her membership in Extreme Measures, Gore also holds the position of speakers coordinator for CU’s Cultural Events Board (CEB).
A child of Indian immigrants, Gore knew she wanted to be a part of something cultural before she had even begun her freshman year in 2018. One of her first acts as a CU student was to research such groups and clubs available to her. CEB immediately piqued her interest.
She is responsible for organizing major speakers for the university to host. More specifically, she contacts speakers’ agents to negotiate themes and contracts, ensures that day-of activities run smoothly when speakers are on campus and occasionally interviews speakers during events.
“In the past we’ve had Hasan Minhaj, Viola Davis and Aly Raisman, to name a few,” Gore said.
She was appointed speakers coordinator at the end of the 2019 spring semester, though she also continues as a member of the organization, acting as a liaison for other clubs requesting funding and monitoring budgets.
Following her time with CEB and CU Boulder, Gore hopes to take two gap years, spending one in India to become fluent in her parents’ language and learn classical Indian Hindustani music and the other to teach English abroad, likely in a Latin American country.
“Going to rehearsals and getting to make music has been a kind of emotional outlet for me. It lets me forget about everything else for a little while.”
Sarah Dolan sings with Extreme Measures as an alto.
For as long as she can remember, she has loved everything about being a part of a music community – the singing, the harmonies, the community. Throughout middle and high school, she would meet after school three to four days a week for choir rehearsal.
Coming into her freshman year at CU proved more difficult for Dolan than she had anticipated. Classes were more complicated, making friends wasn’t easy and, for the first time, she wasn’t making music.
Missing both the music and the social aspect of her high school choir days, Dolan auditioned for Extreme Measures in the spring semester of her freshman year.
“Going to rehearsals and getting to make music has been a kind of emotional outlet for me. It lets me forget about everything else for a little while,” she said. “I think in some way or another, music is always going to be something I need to do because I genuinely enjoy it and it helps me clear my head.”
In addition to her musical talents, Dolan is also pursuing landscape architecture through the environmental design program at CU as a junior.
Her schoolwork primarily involves developing skills such as using design software, sketching plant and site designs and improving understanding of ecology and environmental impact.
For the program’s studio course, Dolan is currently designing a sustainability complex to balance buildings, outdoor spaces, gardens and other outdoor programs on the site. She has to keep in mind how her designs can mitigate possible environmental impacts.
Dolan’s job throughout the semester is to improve projects over time and to continuously come into class with different versions and ideas. This is to ensure she is receiving constant feedback and room to grow.
One of the projects she worked on early in the semester involved visiting artist Mary Mattingly, best known for the “Waterpod,” an experimental habitat in New York City.
“We as a class worked with her to design a second version (of the Waterpod) with better circulation through the garden space and how the various layers came together, like the soil, gravel, drainage and those kinds of things,” Dolan said.
After college, Dolan intends to use her skills to work on residential design.
Courtesy of Leanne Rubinstein
Liam Spooner sings with Extreme Measures as a bass and beatboxer.
When signing up for classes in his first year of high school, Spooner had added choir to his schedule on a whim. He loved it so much that he kept with it throughout the rest of high school and even competed at Carnegie Hall during his senior year.
When Spooner went off to college, he was sure that his singing days had come to an end.
At the start of the second semester of his freshman year, however, a friend encouraged Spooner to audition for Extreme Measures. Though music wasn’t part of his carefully-laid plan, he agreed. Spooner immediately connected to the members of the group and has remained a part of it throughout his entire degree.
“EM has helped me retain the desire to not only show up on time, but as much as possible,” Spooner said. “I don’t remember the last time I skipped a class. It’s essentially extra practice at showing up on time and getting that self-satisfaction … for showing up that bolsters my intrinsic motivation to go to class.”
Spooner, a senior from San Diego, California, studies psychology at CU, but since he was 8 years old, he has spent most of his free time playing video games.
His gaming interests have transitioned from Pokémon Emerald and Club Penguin to Call of Duty and League of Legends, which he still plays regularly today.
Today, Spooner holds the title of general manager for the esports division of the CU Gaming Club. His interest in gaming has also lead his studies in college.
“I had an exact game plan for what I wanted to get out of college, and that was to tailor my psychology studies towards the professional gaming sphere,” Spooner said. “That essentially entails learning about what constitutes decision making, what biological and mental factors go into peak performance and what does general fitness look like.”
In addition to his academic strides, Spooner is an intern at the Sports Stable in Superior, working on the company’s new RoughRiders Esports team. After earning a master’s degree in exercise psychology, Spooner hopes to earn the professional title of “esports performance trainer,” contracted to one team to help get the most out of that team as possible.
In addition, Spooner cannot guarantee the true end to his singing days. He said that it would not only feel strange to not have music involved in his day-to-day life, but that the a cappella group itself has also given him a sort of home.
“What’s kept me in the group this long is that sense of community,” he said. “My closest friends are EM.”
Contact CU Independent Guest Writer Leanne Rubinstein at email@example.com.