Nighttime is a time to be creative
A single voice enchants you. Despite being faint, almost whisked away by the wind, the voice is clear. Your feet direct you, without conscious thought, towards the Information Technology and Engineering (ITE) building. Another voice has joined the first and then another until a whole group of voices are expertly switching from synchronization to harmonization, each moment a new voice coming to the forefront. You might recognize the tune but the song is never quite the same each time, depending on the talents present that night.
The Cleftomaniacs recently made a name for themselves when they placed first in the 2018 Mid-Atlantic Quarterfinals at the Inter-Collegiate Competition of a cappella (ICCAs). “We are just a group of people who are really passionate about music and like to perform,” says Sonia Anger ’22, mathematics and psychology. “Sure, some people may think it’s silly but if you put everything you have into something and are having fun, the performance comes across naturally.”
During the day, Anger has a pressing to-do list. With two majors, and as a Sondheim scholar, Honors college member, and Shriver Center participant, Anger has to set aside time for social activities. “It’s important for my mental health and well-being. In order to function well at school, I need to make time to interact with others and do something I’m passionate about. If I don’t have that, things start to fall apart in other ways,” she shares.
Anger got involved with the Cleftos her first year of college; the club was the breath of fresh air she needed. After a year spent serving with the Americorps, she felt disconnected from her peers, but from the moment she auditioned, despite her own anxiety, she could see how welcoming and friendly the group was and she wanted to be a part of it. For Anger, it turned into the community she needed.
When the group would split up to work on individual voice parts late at night, she frequently found herself practicing in empty classrooms, hallways, and stairwells—even encountering a strange Barbie display hidden behind a staircase in ITE (a UMBC mystery if there ever was one). Afterward, she would walk with her friends to the dorms or ‘late night’ at True Grit’s only to continue singing. “We would be singing outside of SUS [the Susquehanna dorm] in the middle of December and people would be like ‘You know you can go inside right?’ but we were stubborn and we just wanted to have fun.”
Anger talks about the group like it is her own family. Outside of performances (and pre-COVID), they would visit places like the Field of Screams, throw parties for one another, and have gift exchanges, but her favorite part is performing. Her highlights include seeing everyone in their element, watching all of their hard work pay off, and being part of the community.
Cleftomaniacs is not the only acapella group on campus, and the Barbie shrine in ITE isn’t the only corner of UMBC at night that is wrapped up in mystery. What other nighttime adventures await you?
What do you want to do next?
How to find the Cleftomaniacs: Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/umbc_cleftomaniacs/