Caltech’s All-Female A Cappella Group Performs at Disney’s California Adventure
The Caltech Pipettes—the Institute's 14-member, all-female, all-student a cappella group—performed to their biggest audience yet during a show at the Disneyland resort February 18. After submitting audition videos from their YouTube channel, the Pipettes were competitively chosen to perform at Disney's California Adventure (DCA).
"I figured it was worth a try," says Preethi Periyakoil, a Caltech junior and president of the Pipettes, who says she thought performing at Disneyland would be "a wonderful experience" for the group. After doing some research online, Periyakoil had discovered there was a way for the group to both perform and visit the park—through the Disney Performing Arts Onstage program, which puts student performers "in front of an international audience," according to the program's website. She submitted three songs from a performance the Pipettes had done during Caltech's "Love Sucks" 2016 winter concert; the next thing she knew, she and the Pipettes were on their way to Anaheim.
The group performed a 30-minute set of six songs on DCA's Hollywood Backlot Stage to a dozen faculty members, their families, and about 50 of their own friends, as well as a nearly full house of park-goers. The performance included the songs "Mercy," by Duffy and "Send My Love," by Adele, among others. And because the group was in tune with its audience, they also performed "I Won't Say I'm in Love," from Disney's 1997 movie Hercules and "Le Festin," from 2007's Ratatouille. (You can see the entire performance on the group's Facebook page.)
"Performing at DCA was so cool. We were all pretty nervous at first, but once we started singing all that fear just sort of melted away," says Periyakoil of the day's performance. "And it helped a lot to see our friends and faculty there to watch and support us."
The group normally performs one concert per term that includes these same songs, Periyakoil says; nevertheless, the time commitment to prepare for the show was great, as they suddenly had to perfect six songs in six weeks. The advantages, though, were significant, she adds. As the Performing Onstage program website notes, singing at DCA exposes artists to "the highest level of performance" at a "high-profile venue." Periyakoil says, "I am truly amazed by how our team came together—their tireless enthusiasm and hard work was very humbling and inspiring. It hasn't been the easiest few weeks, and we couldn't have done this without the help and support from each and every Pipette."
The Pipettes formed in 2014 and is Caltech's fourth—and newest—a cappella group: there are also two co-ed groups and one all-male group at the Institute. The Pipettes' 14 student members study everything from computer science, bioengineering, and applied and computational math to chemistry, mechanical engineering, and biology. Still, each week, they come together from houses all over campus to indulge in their shared passion for music. "It also helped me understand the value of teamwork, as each of us have different strengths and riff off each other. Being in the Pipettes helps us all relax because we're doing something that we care about deeply," Periyakoil says. "It keeps you from getting bored, it diversifies your portfolio, and helps you find your niche in a high-stress environment like Caltech. "