Snowflakes swirled inside miniature funnel clouds near Canal Park. People walking into the Akron stadium wore heavy coats, boots and gloves. And as if wanting so badly for it to be baseball season, a diehard fan could almost imagine hearing the start of a game.
Wait, what’s that? The Star-Spangled Banner?
On Saturday, auditions were held for those interested in singing the national anthem at one of 71 Aeros home games this season. So every five minutes, a cappella voices wafted over the brick walls and onto South Main Street.
Inside, it was reminiscent of a scene from the popular television show American Idol. Performers lined a narrow hallway that emptied onto an outdoor concourse.
Some shaking from fear, others from the cold, stood before two judges who rated the singers.
Brian Collins of Cuyahoga Falls lip-synced as he watched his 17-year-old daughter, Alicia, audition.
“She is an old pro at The Star-Spangled Banner,” her proud pop said, noting Alicia has performed the song at the stadium in the past.
The wind chill was in the teens as Alicia and nearly 90 other candidates sang.
“I look at it as ankle weights,” joked Adam Liberman, director of public and media relations for the team. “If they can sing in this … then spring and summer will be a breeze.”
Auditioning outdoors allowed judges Amy Petrongelli, who teaches at the University of Akron’s School of Music, and Merissa Coleman, a UA graduate student in choral conducting, to hear how a performer sounded through the stadium’s speakers.
Both old and young came to the park. Some sang, others played instruments. Those who watched four Kent Roosevelt High School seniors grinned at their outstanding harmony. The young men — Gordon Wall, Luke Schmidt, Matthew Stiller and Clay Magilavy — formed a group last spring known as Tetrad (which means four note chords).
Wall said the Akron Derbytown Chorus, a longtime Akron staple and member of the Barbershop Harmony Society, asked Tetrad to perform at an upcoming concert.
Those who auditioned will learn within a couple of weeks whether they’ve been chosen to return to the stadium when the sun is peeking through the clouds and fans are sucking down hot dogs and beer.
Kim Hone-McMahan can be reached at 330-996-3742 or firstname.lastname@example.org.