Everyone likes a good underdog. Just ask Evan Thomas (W ‘20) and Meghan Chapman (C ‘18) of Dischord, one of the 17 a cappella groups on Penn’s campus. They view their group as having had a significant trajectory of success over the past few years, and their upcoming 20th anniversary show is meant to celebrate the group’s ascendancy within the competitive ranks of Penn a cappella. 

“I think we really have come a long way,” says Evan, Dischord’s president. “The talent in our group has kind of skyrocketed in the past few years.” 

Dischord had its humble beginnings back in 1998, when, according to Meghan, “rehearsals were taking place in someone’s dorm room.” The group has matured since then and is now composed of 15 talented members, many of whom have extensive background in a cappella performance and musical arrangement and composition. Evan says that Dischord has been a “dream come true” for him, after attempting to create an a cappella group at his high school but failing to find anyone who was dedicated enough to put in the effort that was needed. 

“My former best friend told me at the end of high school that I would never find a group that would want to use the music I wrote. It’s too hard—no one will ever be so dedicated. And the truth is, I found that in Dischord.”

Dischord also has a strong alumni base that is always willing to support the group’s current members. Meghan says there will definitely be a focus on the Dischord’s history and its alums for the anniversary show. 

“A couple shows ago,” she says, “as we were approaching this 20th anniversary, our president at the time reached out to the alumni base just asking for some pieces of history and we just got a slew of responses from people who were in the group 15 years ago. They all ended up coming to our show, so I’m hoping for the 20th anniversary show, in particular, there’s going to be a strong alumni crowd in the front row.”

While I was not given any hints as to what songs to expect at their show (“you’ll have to come out to the show and see”), there is no doubt that the passion every member has for the work that they do will shine through on stage. On this point, Meghan tells me about a standout moment from last semester that occurred on the night before their end–of–semester show. 

“We were singing 'Make You Feel My Love' and there’s this gorgeous unison part where everyone’s singing, 'Can you feel it? I’ll do anything to show you my love is real,' and it’s this rich harmony. I looked at Sara [Seyed (C ‘20)], who was conducting the song, and she had started tearing up, and then I started bawling, trying to get through the song, and the song ended and we were all in tears,” she recalls. “It’s easy to forget why you’re doing it, and it’s nights like those where you look around the room and you’re looking at all your friends singing together and making something beautiful, it’s hard not to get emotional.”

Dischord’s 20th anniversary show is on Saturday, March 24 at 1:30p.m. and 8 p.m. Mark those calendars now.