a, Arts & Entertainment

McGill a capella group chimes in on upcoming show

Fourth-year students, best friends, and Tonal Ecstasy lifers Tanja Nachtigall and Eleanore Catenaro—musical director and president respectively of McGill’s oldest a cappella group—are part of an eclectic singing crew. They describe Tonal Ecstasy—fondly referred to as TX—as the place where the “most random assortment of students” has grown into “a little family.”

When asked to describe their musical style to a newbie on the a cappella scene, both are quick to highlight the democratic aspect of their song choice decision-making. Voting takes place at the beginning of each semester when just about everything is fair game. In fact, it seems likely that whatever your musical taste, you’ll find something that suits you in TX’s diverse repertoire.

“All of our music is entirely, 100 per cent representative of the people in the group,” says Nachtigall proudly. “We’ve played everything from Bon Jovi to Flight of the Conchords.”

TX definitely takes their musical work seriously, but that’s not to say they don’t know how to kick back and have a good time. Building a positive group dynamic is key to a good performance. Catenaro explains that one way TX fosters close bonds is through regular group activities.

“Every Wednesday after rehearsal we go out for drinks, no matter what. We love to, you know, kind of calm down after rehearsal with a pitcher—or five.”

Giving back to the community is also important to TX. McGill’s Centraide campaign raises funds to help improve the living conditions of people in the Greater Montreal Area by financing locally based agencies and projects and promoting community engagement. For the last two years, Tonal Ecstasy and Centraide have joined forces, leading to what Nachtigall called “a really cool collaboration” in which TX has lent their voices-—and dance moves—to promotional videos and entertainment at campaign events.

The group performs at all sorts of venues; everything from the traditional concert hall to a synagogue for a Bar Mitzvah. Nachtigall described the location of this recent venture as their “dream performance venue.” As far as unconventional performances go, Catenaro and Nachtigall, both smiling, recall a memorable stint.

“We got asked last year, along with the other two a cappella groups at McGill, Effusion and Soulstice, to collaborate with them to sing The Temptations’ “My Girl” for a marriage proposal,” says Catenaro. “It was kind of a flash mob setting at the Y-intersection. Just like the ones you see on YouTube! [….] We ambushed the couple and she started laughing and crying. [….] It was a really a good experience”

Their next show, the “Feel Good” concert, is sure to live up to its name, as Catenaro explains.

“It’s right before finals, so we want to say that it would be a good study break. It’s only an hour and a half and the theme is—obviously-—‘feel good,’ which people need this time of year.”

“We’ve got something for everybody,” Nachtigall comments. “Last year, our theme was ‘In the Spotlight’ because we really wanted to put on a show where we were sparkling and really at our best. Now that we’ve set that tone, ‘Feel Good’ is really about showing you a little bit about TX, and songs that made us as a group feel really good to sing together. We’re hoping to share those feelings with the audience.”


Tonal Ecstasy performs at 8 p.m. (doors at 7 p.m.) on Dec. 1 at Café Campus. Tickets are $10.

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