By Anna Mann
When Anna Burklin (C’18) stepped into the crowded interior of Guerry Hall for her Cambiata audition, she took the opportunity that the long tryout line afforded to choose her audition song. Already tense from the large crowd of people she didn’t know, the six judges watching her match pitch, cadence, and assessing her performance of “Give Me Love” made her wish that she’d brought a friend along.
However, she made the team and soon added Sewanee’s co-ed a cappella group to her list of musical accomplishments. Coming from a musical family, who taught her to play guitar at the age of five, it proved no surprise that Burklin quickly rose through the ranks of the organization to become its sole leader her junior year.
The leadership proved a stark difference from regular membership, but Burklin claimed that the extra work pays off, stating, “A lot of extra time and work goes into being the leader. You have to find the arrangements and plan rehearsals minute-by-minute. But it makes me feel really proud, especially when we keep improving and moving forward as a group.”
Her leadership ethic developed further last semester during her a cappella independent study with music professor Jessica Usherwood. Throughout the term, she researched the history, evolution, and institutionalization of a cappella, as well as researching practical ways to improve Cambiata.
Burklin commented that the study “really helped [the team] because before I was here, the leadership position included finding the music, teaching it line-by-line, and putting on the concert. That was it. We never did anything extra; we didn’t fundraise or have social media.”
She continued to explain that in the future, Cambiata will do more fundraising, concerts outside Sewanee’s gates, and perhaps even sell merchandise. Additionally, Burklin seemed optimistic about expanding the leadership to multiple people, as she feels that one manager cannot easily juggle all the tasks for even a regular week in the realm of a cappella.
Burklin felt grateful that Sewanee helped her expand the styles in which she performs. She explained, “I put more work into my music now, especially after becoming a leader of Cambiata. I plan better and I practice more on my own time. It’s made me more disciplined for sure, which makes my music better.”