Last April, Seattle Academy’s Onions placed first in the Reno Jazz festival. Although the Onions have achieved national acclaim, they began with a small group of students who were singing together for fun.
In 1992, Mark Hoover and a couple of students began meeting after school to practice their repertoire.
“We literally sat in a circle doing vocal improv for an hour for a few days a week,” Hoover said. “I would look for music that featured harmony.”
Seattle Academy would later ask Hoover to put together a group of kids to sing at an event. The years went by, and the Onions grew. Still not a class, and meeting whenever they could squeeze in time, the Onions became official in 2001.
“We grew in size from two people to 21, which has been the size for a number of years now,” said Hoover. “The sophistication of the music has exponentially grown.”
Through the years, the Onions have faced some obstacles. The first was that they did not have a room to practice in.
“There wasn't space to go off and practice so we would find a corner [in which to] to practice,” said Thomas Adams ‘00, a former Onion and now a teacher at SAAS. “We would meet at lunch and other times. Just finding the time and space to meet was hard.”
“The obstacles are the same now. It is hard and takes a lot of dedication.” Hoover said, “This class is more work than anyone realizes. People are often surprised that the Onions have homework.”
“I think one of the biggest [accomplishments] since then, is taking what was at first just casual,” said Adams, “and turning it into something that people put a lot of work into, and that's most impressive.”