Arts and Culture / Magazine Feature

No instruments required for DU’s Idiosingcrasies

a capella group

The Idiosingcrasies, an a cappella group at DU, hold their spring concert May 8 in Davis Auditorium. Courtesy Idiosingrasies

As a vocal performance major in DU’s Lamont School of Music, junior Paul Lannon is surrounded by music all day, every day. But his favorite people to sing with are his fellow members in the Idiosingcrasies, a campus a cappella group that includes music majors and non-music majors.

“We do a lot of great things at Lamont, but out of all the things I do at this school, Idiosingcrasies is my favorite thing to be involved in,” he says, noting that the group is not affiliated with the music school. “This is what I look forward to every day.”

Founded in 2005 by a group of singers who have since graduated, the Idiosingcrasies are DU’s longest-lasting — in recent memory, anyway — entry into the growing field of college a cappella. Making music with nothing but their voices, the group’s 15 members arrange their own versions of songs by hitmakers such as Guns N’ Roses, Miley Cyrus, Michael Jackson and more — the more familiar to audiences the better.

“Why people get so excited and into it is that they recognize the songs,” Lannon says. “They see our take or our spin on the song. It’s the difference between a choir concert and an a cappella concert. Choir concert, everybody sits there, they hear you sing, they clap at the end. At an a cappella concert, you start singing and everybody starts screaming and clapping and jumping out of their seats.”

The Idiosingcrasies have had audiences jumping out of their seats at shows on campus, at Denver-area bars and schools and at private parties. On May 8, the group will hold its spring concert in Davis Auditorium. In addition to previewing songs from its first album — due next fall — the group also will bid farewell to its two senior members, who are graduating in June.

“We will definitely be losing a big part of our history, but they’ll still be around and I know they’re going to come to our shows and support us,” says Lannon, the group’s vocal percussionist. “It’s cool seeing how we’re building an alumni base now.”

The group also is helping to build an a cappella scene in Denver, working with all-vocal college groups from Boulder, Colorado Springs and elsewhere in Colorado to raise the art form’s visibility.

“Yale has groups that have been on campus for 90 years,” says Idiosingcrasies member Nate Pearson, a junior accounting major. “The thing about the Rocky Mountain region and Colorado is that we don’t have that kind of history with a cappella. These groups are really brand new. Boulder has a huge number of a cappella groups, but they’re all seven or eight years old, similar to us. With the help of a lot of really devoted, motivated people, we’re really trying to create an a cappella culture in Colorado.”

To that end, Idiosingcrasies members already have served as mentors to Exit 205, another DU a cappella group that started singing last year.

“I would like to think that it was really our group that showed them and showed the other singers on campus that there is room at DU for a cappella groups and that this is a culture that can thrive,” Pearson says.

Funded by the Undergraduate Student Government and entirely run by members, the Idiosingcrasies features singers from all over campus: majors in communications, business, HRTM and more. Unlike many of its a cappella contemporaries, the group is co-ed, which allows it greater flexibility, Lannon says.

“It doesn’t limit us in any way,” he says. “We can do things that just a guys’ group can’t do because we have female voices — and the same thing about a female group with guys’ voices. It opens up our horizons as to what we can do musically, vocally, and even what songs and repertoire we can do. We have songs where guys and girls sing to each other and it sets up a whole story on stage. It definitely plays with the dynamics and it brings a lot to the group.”

The Idiosingcrasies perform their spring concert at 7 p.m. May 8 in Davis Auditorium in DU’s Sturm Hall. Tickets are $5 and are available at the door or on the Driscoll bridge the week before the concert. For more information, visit

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