By Jonathan Parker of Traffic
If a survey were taken to discover the things most abundant on the average university campus, two items that would certainly make the list are sex and a cappella. Since many people don't get their fill of one or the other on a regular basis (you singing freaks out there know who you are), the nice people at R.E.A.C.H. were kind enough to bring the two together at the sixth annual Sex and A Capella performance, presented on Tuesday in the Mandela Room of the University Union.
The evening kicked off with an introduction to the program by the members of R.E.A.C.H, a group of students who try to educate their peers about issues most pertinent to our generation's personal health. After a short preface, the first a cappella group of the evening, Kaskeset, was brought on stage. While their particular brand of music (Jewish and Hebrew songs) seemed a bit out of place at the R.E.A.C.H. event, the caliber of the groups members did not. The group performed three songs and throughout their set the group sounded vibrant and together, and was led through all four songs by powerful soloists. R.E.A.C.H. followed Kaskeset's departure with a short skit depicting the five worst possible things to do before, during, and after sex. The short, and funny list included videotaping the event (which was promptly followed by a viewing by parents and siblings) and gluing shut orifices, which one would hope would remain open.
The next group to take the stage was the Rhythm Method, an 80s a cappella group. The group performed two songs, but their third and final song, "Walkin' on Sunshine" was energetic and exciting, most likely due to the exuberance and talent of soloist Farrah Napack. Once again retaking the stage, the members of R.E.A.C.H performed an Impromptu Quiz of audience members, with condoms for prizes. Those attending were surprisingly well versed in the answers to questions on STDs and safe-sex, which I suppose is a testament to the quality of R.E.A.C.H's programming.
Next on stage were the Vibrations, and they came dressed for the event. Resplendent in their pajamas and bathrobes, the group launched right into "That Thing You Do," followed by "Earth Angel." Nicole Lee, who displayed a strong voice, sang both songs. Next came a rendition of "California Dreaming," soloed by Brad Spiegel. While Brad seemed to cut off his words a bit too soon, the arrangement was likable, and acted as a great precursor to the next piece, a parody of "Buttercup" with words set to suit the event.
The Harpur Harpeggios took the stage following the Vibrations, leading off with a very well done "In the Name of Love," soloed by Johanna Lester. The piece was solid and unified. This was followed by "Walk Like an Egyptian" which featured three potent solos by Hillary Weissman, Sarah Williams, and Kristen McNichols. The finale was "Sexual Healing" a nicely appropriate way to round out the set, led delightfully by Sharon Matthews.
After R.E.A.C.H described to the audience that safe sex is a lifestyle and a choice, not just facts, the Binghamtonics took the stage. As Binghamtons oldest co-ed a cappella group they have obviously had many years to perfect their act, and it showed as they stole the show. They opened with the beautiful "Beautiful Girl," which was followed by Mike Baver, who soloed the parody "I Want You to Sit on Me," and a hilarious parody of the George Harrison classic "I've got My Mind Set on You." With a confidant solo and a chorus containing the line "Do me, and screw me, and eat me, and beat me," the group had the audience rolling in the isles and screaming for more. Next came another well-arranged piece "Show Me Heaven." While it contained lyrics as dirty as the song it followed, in no way did it compare to 'Karma Chameleon," in which group members took turns undressing soloist Peng Suvilaisunthorn until he stood on stage dressed in a skirt, tube top, makeup, and boa. The hilarity of the groups antics in no way took away from the perfection of the song. They completed it wonderfully.
Following a Jerry Springer skit demonstrating not only the shows standard lesbians and white-trash, but correct condom use as well (it's not who you do it with, but how you do it) the Crosbys took the stage. An obvious crowd pleaser, the nationally renowned all-male group walked on stage to great applause. Whether it was for their singing skill or musical director Al Orbinatis huge phallus is unclear, but once he ripped it off his crotch (it was plastic...I hope) and Chris Sheppard launched into "Pretty Girls" it became obvious that the crowd adored them. Throughout the set the group was vibrant and together, and they used a wide array of appropriate songs ranging from "Vagina," sung by Evan Behlivaris and Jeremy Honig (guess what it was about. Go ahead, guess) "Chicago," sung by Scott Honig and Scott Eckers (about all the obscene things which one can get fired from department stores), a quick ditty about mothers and oral sex, and an equally amusing song about firemen. The set closed with Danny Amy singing. All things considered the sixth annual Sex and A Capella was a great success. While it seemed to focus more on the singing and less on the sex, the quality of the performances makes this error forgivable. Congratulations to R.E.A.C.H and all of the performers on a spectacular show.
By Jonathan Parker and Laurie Feit of Traffic
What do smoking quack, jumping boxes, and an airplane hijacking have in common? I honestly have no idea, but the Binghamtonics (popularly known as the Tonics) wed the three into a menage-a-trois of hilarious proportions in their spring show Too Legit to Quit, Too.
Taking place in Lecture Hall 1, Binghamtons oldest co-ed a cappella group kicked off the show with a beautifully harmonized "Road to Nowhere.".Featuring Soul-train-esque dancing that complemented the song nicely, it made for a great introduction for the visiting group, Michigans Gimble. An ensemble with obvious talent, Gimble performed tunes ranging from a jazzy 'Pink Panther " to "Slide" by the Goo Goo Dolls. The highlight of this segment was a medley of Aerosmith titles, which featured smooth blending and sharp solos. The Tonics retook the stage with "Now I'm a Believer," soloed by Peng Suvilaisunthorn. It was an upbeat number, and served as a likable precursor to the very well done "Mister Blue," sung by Dana Giacopelli. With a bridge of the techno song "I'm Blue," this song was dynamic and beautiful (I know those adjectives don't tend to go together, but they did for this song, trust me).
One of the highlights of the evening was the Tonics first skit, which featured live zoo animals from the Ross Park Zoo. Actually it featured different Tonics acting out various roles from a circus, such as clowns, lion tamers, and box - I mean dog - trainers. It was wildly successful (perhaps more so than real animals would have been), and had the crowed primed for the exceptional "No One is to Blame." The spectacular backup coupled with Johnny Martins magnificent soloing was so flawless as to overshadow even the original recording. As great as Martins rendition was, Mike Bavers performance in "Got My Mind Set on You" had even the skeptics in the audience paying rapt attention. His voice tore through the air, and heartbeats in the room no doubt began to match the beat of the song. Musical Director Samantha Schwartz was next to take the stage, and even hampered by a broken ankle it was immediately obvious why she held the vaunted position of leadership. From her seated position she held the audience captive with her beautiful rendition of "Show me Heaven." Schwartz was followed by a touching alumni song, and after a short, humorous skit about a botched airplane hijacking the Tonics leapt into Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror." While the arrangement was nice, Mary Galiotos solo tended to sound a bit too sharp at times, and a bit to shallow at others. The pleasant "Stay with Me" was next, followed by a well sung "Freebird," which went so far as to feature three a cappella guitar solos. Following a quick and...um...interesting skit about smoking quack (yes, quack), the Tonics said farewell to their graduating seniors with a touching song and gift presentation.
Next up was a smoothly accomplished 'The Sweetest Thing," which set the stage for "Change in My Life," sweetly performed by Tonic-princess Kerry Ann Tortorello. This tune flowed well, and brought the show to an impressive close. Running back into the Lecture Hall to a standing ovation, the Tonics encored with Suvilaisunthorns trademark song 'Karma Chameleon." Full of energy and life, it bought the group a well deserved second ovation. All in all, the evening was characterized by power, beauty, and fun, testifying to the reality that the Tonics truly are too legit to quit.
By Dave Berkowitz of Traffic
"It’s just f’in’ a cappella," said the guy pressed up against my back as we stormed the doors of Lecture Hall One, dollars waving, holding the backs of our friends and scouting for seats.
That’s all it was, a cappella. At the annual Dollar Show, all six groups performed at the sixth of the cost of the average solo concert. Also playing simultaneously in LH2 and LH14, this year’s show boasted the largest seating capacity ever. The groups rotated among the three rooms, and in each room, they were greeted by a standing-room-only crowd.
Leading off (in LH1) were the Harpur Harpeggios, the all-female group. Affectionately known as the Pegs, they’re the softer, sweeter side of our a cappella circuit. Their music is best listened to by candle-light with your significant other, a recently-eaten Italian (or vegan) meal not yet cleared off the makeshift table in your cramped apartment. Recently, they’ve been adding some hip-hop to their set, thus increasing the beat and upping the tempo of their shows.
They flowed through "Future Love Paradise" into their traditional "Because the Night." Then, in "Can’t Take My Eyes Off You," the trio of Deena Altman, Katie Lansford, and Melissa Beery started a dance number, finally adding some movement to the previously stationary Pegs. While acoustically soothing, a cappella in general can be visually stagnant. There’s a dozen people standing in a semicircle moving their mouths and snapping a bit. After the Pegs’ most energetic and loudest number, "Sexual Healing," graced by the freestylin’ Margot Rosen, they broke into their dance number, "Dancing Queen." With this intricately choreographed piece, they illustrated how a cappella can be a feast for the eyes as well as the ears (although most would tell you if there’s a couple hotties in the group, it’s a feast for the eyes no matter what they do).
The second group performing was the Vibrations, the all-oldies gang who now calls themselves "all-retro" to keep up with the times. Their set was solid, and generally upbeat. It can often be difficult for an a cappella group to pull off singing a slow song, especially since some of these concerts get so tediously long. However, a set including "Hitchin’ a Ride," "California Dreamin’," and "That Thing You Do," provided entertaining music, even if some soloists were inaudible or slightly off-key.
The Vibrations have had, to put it mildly, a troubled past, and they tried escaping it. Let’s just say auditions this semester will decide whether they sink or swim. Only eight members performed Saturday, and there will be additional openings in the group. Some of their newer arrangements, particularly by treasurer Brad Spiegel, are more vibrant, and Spiegel’s energy is relentless. However, some older songs (two words: "Mercedes Benz") must be dropped, and new blood is essential. Good luck, Mr. Spiegel. It’s an uphill battle, but the spring show in 1998 proved you can go places. Back up to that point, and move forward from there. I have faith.
Performing their best set ever, topping last spring’s extraordinary concert, the Binghamtonics were the strongest that I’ve seen them. It helped that 16 members were singing (including several alumni), but that wasn’t all the difference. Sometimes the initial performance of the year can bring anxiety to the show, but the Tonics channeled it all into enthusiasm. They’re reputation is that they’re the cheery, bubbly group, exemplified by the eternally effervescent musical director, Samantha Schwartz. This is a group who can do a flawless Moxy Fruvous, although they have their sentimental side which can come out during songs like the Indigo Girls’ "Galileo."
Above everything else, better than Peng Suvilaisunthorn "Karma Chameleon" and the "Galileo" duet of Beth Stokinger and Jessie Sackett, better than Mike Baver's backup vocals in "The Flame," was their pacing. Paul Simon, at his Jones Beach concert this summer, was probably the only artist I’ve seen with a more brilliantly-orchestrated set. If you can create the wave you want to ride on, you’re bound to be the best surfer out there. Saturday, the Tonics created the wave of humor and sentimentality, of explosive volume and tenderness. I’m looking forward to seeing how they build on that this semester. Bravo, Tonics.
Next came Kaskeset, under musical director David Ross. Hearing their rendition of "Judah Maccabee," sung so loudly and with such "ruakh" (Hebrew for spirit), I realized why I keep coming back for more of their music. Soloists Ross and Mike Boxer helped ignite what would be one of their strongest sets ever. This group of 10 rivaled (and perhaps bested) the oomph of their 16 predecessors, adding even more pertinence to their choice of "Judah" to lead off the set.
The Maccabees were a small band of Jews who overthrew the mighty and oppressive Syrian Greek army. Kaskeset is a small band of Jews who proved that in two-years time (since Ross joined in ‘97), a group who sings mostly in a language understood by few, can have such a glowing presence on the a cappella scene. Also noteworthy Saturday were the group’s dynamics. This is an interpersonal group, feeding off each other to gain volume, harmonize tighter, and put more into each song. From the volume of "Shalom Rav" ("A Great Peace") to the orchestrations in "Oz Vehadar" ("Strength and Glory"), the strength of their unity emerges in every song.
The Co-Ed, All-80's Rhythm Method was the fifth to perform in LH1. Dressed to kill, Emilie Schwartz's led off with charged and quite possibly perfect solo in "Kyrie." The notes "impressive soloist" in my scribblings could hardly summarize the intensity and range of Ms. Schwartz; I kept the notes to a minimum so I could appreciate the song.
Following it with David Levy climbing the octaves in "Take On Me" was a wise choice. The Method can be counted on for its crafty arrangements, and it’s always a challenge to parse their multi-layered background vocals. Unfortunately, in their third song, "Right Here, Right Now" soloist Lisa Lawless was hardly audible so all that was heard was the backup. Tradition followed, with musical director Greg Levine belting out RM’s "The SUNY-B Song." This perennial favorite has enough inside-jokes relating to the school to keep the seniors laughing for the fourth year in a row. RM closed with "Give It To Me Baby" after the softer "True Colors." In the finale, Felicia Hudson entertained with same antics that she’s delighted Dickenson Community Players fans with in several shows. While she might have built her reputation in musicals, the hip dance moves to accompany her radiant vocalizations closed the set with the explosive charge RM tends to muster for its finales.
Saving the best for last, the Binghamton Crosbys lived up to their legend. This is a group that can sound good while drunk beyond belief at a Pub show; sober, they’re unparalleled. Imagine 14 whose voices can melt butter. Throw in dance moves, scat improvisations, the most diverse of song repertoires, and hilarious arrangements to get a better performance than anything you’ll see on the Mainstage. I feel like all I need to add is the line of Cabaret’s Emcee, "And every one of them: a virgin!" to make these guys sound any better. If these guys start sounding any better, I might have to quit school and become a Crosbys groupie. Saresh Santhanam aced The Who’s "Pinball Wizard," only to be followed by sensation Danny Amy snaring us into "Somethin’ About You." The set could have ended there and I’d have been happy, but then I’d have been denied hearing Adam "Skip" Gross’s "Big Bad Bill." Their skit about auditions was rehashed; I thought they would have found some way to top the "I like small boys line," but they went with the classic. Reviewer Rule #1: Only mention the highlights, not the whole thing. With these guys, every number’s a highlight. Jesse Afriyie rocking "Takin’ it to the Streets" preceded Chris Sheppard's crisp "Die Without You." There’s no better way to end a night than capping it with "The Krosby Funk," featuring the duo of Sheppard and Roopak Ahuja, with Al Orbinati’s percussion.
Now, if only you could find quality like that at a dollar store...
by Amy Perlow and Jesse Mendelson of PipeDream
Students swarmed the Lecture Hall last Saturday night to get the best seat in the house for the annual Dollar Show, a gathering of the campus' infamous a cappella all stars.At least an hour before the show began, students lined up at the doors of Lecture Hall 1 to get choice seats to the performance. The crowd filled several lecture halls but seemed to suffer through the two-and-a-half hour round-robin performance. Despite the unbearable heat, the crowd managed to show enthusiasm as each of the six groups' loyal groupies chanted shouts of admiration.
In Lecture Hall I, the show opened wth the Harpur Harpeggios, affectionately known as the Pegs, who performed six songs with a silly mock audition skit in the middle. Beautiful voices floated through the room, but unfortunately, the sheer size of the lecture hall made it difficult for some to hear. A reggae-infused rendition of Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing," got the audience in the groove, and other popular tunes like "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You" and "Because the Night," employed the talents of powerful soloists who noticebly moved viewers.
The Vibrations walked in next, sadly still not quite up to par with the rest of the groups. Though some members of the group had a vast amount of talent, their sound lacked power and strength overall. In addition, their seven songs neither utilized the group's strengths nor excited the crowd. Perhaps with more practice, their sound will become stronger and more unified.
Using an old favorite, "The Rainbow Connection," the Binghamtonics satirized recent Gap commercials and solicited a hearty laugh from the audience. This was one group that kept the audience wanting more, although their set ran slightly shorter than the others. The harmony, created by the conglomeration of their voices rang throughout the vast lecture hall beautifully.
With only 10 members in the group, Kaskeset, the Jewish a cappella group, surprisingly rang loud and clear throughout the room. They had an energy and enthusiasm which got everyone cheering for more. They revived older religious songs with a new sound, but for the majority of the audience who can't speak Hebrew, relating was somewhat difficult. Still, everyone was able to enjoy, especially after hearing their closer: Adam Sandler's "Chanukah Song."
The crowd was easily excited by the Rhythm Method, the '80's-singing a cappella group, which reaches out to a generation of college students. The group had an amazing sense of harmony and unity, with their voices sounding distinct, yet cohesive. Rhythm Method clearly knew how to grab the crowd with their amazing mix of songs. Some inspired songwriting was also apparent, as the group performed an original song about Binghamton, providing much-needed comic relief. The crowd roared at the line, "This city is full of townies, the school is full of Jews."
When the long-awaited Crosbys appeared on stage next and delivered their show, many in the crowd felt it was well worth the wait. Their stage presence has always exceeded that of any other a cappella group. Several alumni returned to sing some old favorites, once again bringing the group's amazing creative energy and inspiration to life. Their ability to recreate sounds and harmonize several background pieces with solo performances gave them an original strength, even in such complicated songs as The Who's "Pinball Wizard," and "Takin' It to the Street." Their original finale, "Crosby Funk," truly demonstrated a unified talent, and their energy permeated the crowd, causing many to dance in their seats.
The dollar ticket was, as always, quite a bargain.
By Yana Serdtse of PipeDream
As audience members looked around the overflowing Lecture Hall at the Dollar Show last weekend, some were heard to exclaim, "It's Saturday night -- don't these people have lives?"
Over 300 students decided to forgo the bars for a different form of aural entertainment as the audience was aroused by the first appearance of Binghamton University's six a cappella groups.
Once the six guys and four girls, known as the Binghamton Vibrations breathlessly rushed on stage at 8pm, the hall calmed. Their act opened with the Mamas and the Papas' "California Dreamin'." As Brad Spiegel sang, "All the leaves are brown, and the sky is gray," the group's intensity captured the audience with their constant intensity.
The next group to take the stage was the Harpur Harpeggios, otherwise known as the Pegs. Their version of Annie Lennox's "No More I Love Yous" was emotional and the lead singer involved herself wholly in the music. They seemed enthusiastic, but their chorus was thin.
Noted for their energy and great Ô80s songs, The Rhythm Method also stood out for their presentation and matching outfits.
"Hey how often do you hear songs like ÔLivin' on a Prayer'?" sophomore Chris Biscuiti said.
Other Rhythm Method highlights included Heart's "These Dreams" and "Footloose," a song the group had fun with.
The next group to appear was the Crosbys, who charmed everyone with their humor -- especially the female population. Junior Jen Cooper said (with a sly smile) the highlight of the dollar show was "Gee...the Crosbys, maybe?" Their well-blended melodies and sense of togetherness, especially in songs like "Me and Julio," made the Crosbys seem like a group, rather than a just a bunch of guys singing.
The Binghamtonics, Binghamton's oldest co-ed a cappella group, were not only melodic, but humorous as well. One of the scenarios included an audition for the Spice Girls to replace the lost Ginger Spice with "Old Spice" and "Transvestite Spice." Their version of Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" was harmonic and all voices (both on the chorus and the solo) blended well.
Kaskeset closed the show and added some Jewish "flava" and ethnicity to the evening. Their songs were reminiscent of songs sung at Jewish sleep away camps, such as "Avinu Malkeinu." Kaskeset's strong voices brought an all-around terrific show to an end...until the next a cappella fest, that is.
by Fred Butterweck of PipeDream
On Saturday night, the group along with their fans, alumni, family, and friends, celebrated their tenth anniversary in the Anderson Center Chamber Hall. The show, which featured not only the present group of Tonics but also groups of alumni, began with the original Binghamtonics. The group started the show on a high note with impressive versions of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" and "Kiss The Girl" from Disney's The Little Mermaid.
When their set was complete, the original Tonics handed over the stage to two other groups of alumni. The crowd really seemed to enjoy seeing soloists from the past perform songs such as "Be My Yoko Ono," "Busy Tonight," and "Prince's Seven."
The alumni portion of the show concluded when the present group of Tonics took the stage with them to sing "The Growing Pains Theme Song." The nearly 50 voices on stage filled the Chamber Hall with the words "...as long as we got each other," a phrase that seemed to be indicative of the evening.
Following a brief intermission, the 1998 Binghamtonics began their set. Soloist Joy Sarsale, backed up by Kristy Miller, performed a great arrangement of "Gallileo," which seemed to be a crowd favorite. Other highlights of the show included performances of "Freedom," "Enjoy the Silence," and "Change in My Life."
After an exceptional performance of "In Your Eyes" by Jessie Sackett, the Tonics took time out to say good-bye to their four graduating seniors. Leaving the group this year are Rennica Johnson, Kristy Miller, Marissa Schottler and Joy Sarsale. Surely they will be missed, not only by the members of the group, but by Tonics' fans who have enjoyed seeing them sing over the years.
The Binghamtonics ended their tenth anniversary show with an emotional performance of the Cheap Trick ballad, "The Flame." Soloist Joy Sarsale barely managed to fight back the tears as she performed what was probably her last solo as a member of the Tonics. Despite her emotional state, she performed in typically strong fashion and finished the show
on a high note.
Overall, the Tonics' tenth anniversary show was very entertaining. The show had a good blend of comedy, poignancy, and strong vocals by both the alumni and the present group. Simply put, the show was a 10.
by Seth Mates of PipeDream
Friday's matchup between the Binghamton Mets and the Norwich Navigators started as a baseball game. It ended as a marathon.
The teams played a mind-numbing three hours and 32 minutes before the Navigators finally came away with an 11-inning, 5-3 win.
In the top of the 11th, with Luis Arroyo pitching for the Mets, Chris Ashby of the Navigators reached on a two-out fielder's choice. After advancing to second on a wild pitch, first baseman Kurt Bierek singled, scoring Ashby with the go-ahead run.
After Arroyo was relieved by Corey Brittain, Norwich third baseman Mike Berry doubled in Bierek to give Norwich the two-run lead heading into the bottom of the 11th.
The Mets offense, which had looked so potent all game, had now stalled. A team which had its leadoff runner reach base in each of the first six innings now couldn't buy a hit, and the Mets fell to reliever Jay Tessmer, who earned his second save of the year for Norwich.
The Mets loss ruined Binghamton University night at the stadium, which drew 2,805 on a rainy spring evening. As part of the ceremonies, Binghamton University President Lois B. DeFleur threw out the first pitch and the Binghamtonics helped out with the National Anthem.
The Mets took the early lead off Navigators starter David Zancanaro. In the third, the Mets took advantage of sloppy Navigators defense, as shorstop Enohel Polanco scored on a passed ball, and centerfielder Dwight Maness scored on a throwing error.
The Navigators took a 3-2 lead in the fourth on Ashby's three-run homer, his second of the season.
The Mets then tied up the game in the sixth, on rightfielder Terrence Long's first home run of the season.
For the Mets, Maness had three hits, and third baseman Jose Lopez extended his hitting streak to nine games with a first-inning single. Ashby drove in three for Norwich, and Bierek and designated hitter David Keel each had two hits.
by Jess Segal -ofrSAFE:HIGHS's fourth annual Sex and A Capella, a fun-filled evening of discourse on intercourse and oral stimulation to the ears. Together the six campus a capella groups and SAFE:HIGHS (Sexuality Awareness for Everyone: Helping individuals Grow HIV Safe) educated students without boring them. Entertaining without losing focus on the serious subjects of AIDS and AIDS prevention.
The show began with Binghamton University's newest addition to the a capella world, Kaskeset. The only word to describe this group's performance is WOW. Their intonation was amazing, and their energy was contagious. When Alan Zeitlin sang "Abram," the words and the accompaniment provided by the group sent chills down my spine. As group director, David Ross, so eloquently put it, "It's beautiful music and that's what a capella is all about."
Kaskeset also performed a skit co-written by Ross and Zeitlin, which promoted safe sex. With humor and seriousness they conveyed that abstinence is the safest method of all, but that protected sex is the next best thing. Both the skit and musical presentations by Kaskeset were fantastic.
When the next group, The Vibrations, was announced, a groan came from the packed audience in Casadesus. The group lived up to the audience's low expectations; there's still only one member (Elishe Rothenberg, also of Kaskeset) that can carry a tune. She managed to wake up the audience with her performance of "This Thing Called Love." When Rothenberg wasn't a soloist, the audience actually talked over The Vibrations, probably in hopes of tuning them out but off-key singing and boring song choices were still audible. The which was something that the next group, The Binghamtonics, appeared to have mastered both sex and a capella.
"I don't like to sleep with just one man," sang soloist Rennica Johnson of the Tonics during, "Threesome," their version of George Michael's "Freedom." This followed a late entrance with group members half dressed. They pardoned themselves with the excuse that they were working on the sex part of "sex and a capella." Soloist Joy Sarsale sang from the heart in both "Galileo" and "Light," and delivered a performance so passionate that everyone in the audience was fully captivated. The rest of the group performed equally well.
They were followed by the always impressive Rhythm Method.
The Rhythm Method, sang Deep Blue Something's "Breakfast at Tiffany's." Lead by soloist Dan Donahue, a quartet leapt in front of the rest of the group to substitute new lines about sex to the amusement of the audience. And of course the group added that the Rhythm Method does not endorse the use of the rhythm method as a primary form of birth control.
Finally, it was time for the all-female and all-male a capella groups, the Harpur Harpeggios and The Crosbys, to close the night. The Pegs were delightful and each woman wore a wrapped condom in her hair and on her clothing to promote safe sex. Although they skipped crowd pleasers such as the Indigo Girls' "Least Complicated," they did perform favorites like the Police's "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic" and Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing."
The Crosbys came out ready for bed, in flannel pajamas, skirts and nightgowns. The group is always amusing to watch and it was nice to see some of their lesser performed songs like "Heavenly" and "I Need You." Their choreography was great, and it really looked like the Crosbys were having fun performing for a good cause. The Crosbys finished the night with a lively performance of "I'm a Man."
In between all of the music, SAFE:HIGHS managed to incorporate important messages to the audience. Members asked for audience participation and talked about the relationship between alcohol and AIDS, and mentioned places in Binghamton where HIV tests are given. They gave away a jar filled with 152 condoms to the person who guessed the number.
SAFE:HIGHS's Sex and A Capella (with the exception of the Vibrations) fell nothing short of an orgasmic experience.
by Jess Segal of PipeDream
Ah, spring ... the birds, the bees, the defrosting of the nature preserve ... and, of course, the beginning of yet another a cappella fest. Every semester the signs are posted and the tickets go up for sale. Nearly everyone on campus goes to see one of the groups perform. They go home happy at having well spent their admission fare, and they don't even stop to realize that each and every member of the group they just watched spends more time practicing for that performance than most people spend working full time jobs. These groups don't just disappear after performing seasonal concerts; they throw themselves into an intense schedule of touring, competing, arranging and studying new music, and even producing and mixing compact discs.
One of the hardest working a cappella groups on campus is the co-ed, oldies-singing Vibrations, formerly known as the Generation Gap. They have to be to combat all of the bad publicity they've gotten in the past year.
"lt's been said that women have to work twice as hard to be one half as good. lt's sort of the same for us. We're still a relatively new group [they're only four years old]. No one really gave us a chance when we began. They didn't want another a cappella group; we didn't even get our own concert until last semester," group member Christine Bexley said. "There are things the group needs to work on, and we practice many hours to do so," co-musical director and president of the Vibes Michelle Katzeff added. This means the addition of new music, primarily from the seventies. Hopefully it will entice people to come see their spring show on Thurs., April 23.
The Vibes aren't the only group adding new music to their repertoire. Most of the other groups' musical directors spent their winter and spring breaks choosing and arranging a variety of music to perform in this semester's concerts. Kaskeset's musical director David Ross even composes some of the music they perform.
Kaskeset, the baby group, formed quietly only a year ago. This year they're getting down to business with a new musical director (Ross), more intense rehearsals, new and more challenging music, and a higher level of dedication from group members. Their big debut at SAFE:HlGHS's Sex and A Cappella spelled sweet success for Kaskeset but the group may still have some barriers to break. All of their songs need to relate to Judaism, which means that many of them are sung in Hebrew, a language not everyone in their audiences may understand. But music is a universal language so there is no reason not to keep an eye out for Kaskeset performances. Although at this point, there is no scheduled spring concert for the group, they are diligently working on arranging and learning new music. You'll definitely have an opportunity to see them perform at a show of their own next semester. They're also scheduled to perform at Cornell this semester as well as opening for other campus groups.
On April 4, The Rhythm Method will show Binghamton University just how crazy they really are when they perform new music at their five year anniversary concert, "Method to Our Madness." Audience members should expect to hear revivals of older songs that the group hasn't performed lately. At the show, they also plan to release a CD of the same name that the group both produced and helped engineers to mix.
Like other groups, The Rhythm Method has been the cause of much discussion this year. They've been called one of the most improved a cappella groups on campus, which can't help but please the group's members.
"Of course we're happy that people have take notice of us. But we still try to take everything with a grain of salt and make even more improvements. We've worked hard to get to this level by using more complex musical arrangements and by having a lot of good soloists," musical director Dan Donahue said.
Fans of the Rhythm Method that just can't get enough of the group during the school year will be happy to know that they'll be on tour this spring after graduation.
The Crosbys are one group of singers that won't be watching the Rhythm Method's concert this semester. No, the ensembles aren't feuding. April 4, the all-male a cappella group is scheduled to compete in a state wide singing competition at Penn State University. If they do well there, they'll go on to compete in the finals at Carnegie Hall. Somehow the group manages to fit 10-12 hours of rehearsal into a week, learn new songs for their April 25th show, and produce their third CD to celebrate their 15th anniversary without getting swelled heads.
"lt isn't about one campus group being better than another. We're really an a cappella community," group member Scott Honig said.
The lovely ladies of the Harpur Harpeggios are another member of the a cappella community celebrating a big anniversary this year. This past Saturday they celebrated with their founding mothers in their 15th anniversary concert: Pegs 83-98.
Up until recently, the Pegs performed the music of male musicians but on Saturday the Pegs performed new lillith-style music such as Joan Osborne's "St. Theresa" and Shawn Colvin's "Sunny Came Home."
"lt wasn't something we discussed. The music for this concert was arranged by a number of different people. That shift in music is a natural one considering the trends in music now and the more female singers heard on the radio," musical director Sally Weinbach explained.
Although the Pegs aren't touring or competing this semester, they are recording tracks for their next album, scheduled for release next year.
May will bring more than flowers for Binghamton this spring...it will also bring the Binghamtonics' 10th anniversary alumni concert. Their performance is scheduled for May 2, the same day their third CD will be released. The co-ed group recently took time out of their busy schedule of practicing and recording and performed in an a cappella competition at Dartmouth.
"We didn't do as well as we wanted to, but we're still happy with our performance. We've been working hard and we hope the upcoming concert will be great with different generations coming together," Tonic Josh Goldstein said.
The next time you spot a random singer on campus, go up and give them a compliment. Hey, get really enthusiastic and give them a hug. No matter what, give them your support... that's what makes all of their hard work and dedication worthwhile.
by Dave Berkowitz of PipeDream
By day, he studies mechanical engineering. By night, he's under the spotlight as the musical director for one of Binghamton University's most loved a cappella groups, the Binghamtonics. This variety of interests has helped Mike Feinberg take in all that BU has to offer.
"Don't be afraid of new experiences," are his words of wisdom for undergraduates. Feinberg followed his own advice during his years at BU He acted in the musical production of The Princess Bride as a freshman, and later performed in the musical revue Behind Closed Doors. He has spent four years with the Binghamtonics and two singing in the Harpur Chorale. Feinberg performed in the Pappy Parker Players for one year. He has been a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers for two years. He even joined the Rollerblading Club and was an enthusiastic member until the club was dissolved.
The loss of the Rollerblading Club seems very insignificant when compared to the other changes Feinberg witnessed at the university. "People are more willing to come together on issues," he said. He cites the Oct. 15 incident in the University Union as a crisis that brought the school together. He added, "I think people are a whole lot friendlier now."The freshmen that Feinberg has met have shown a strong willingness to be involved in all facets of the university, and "seem to be a whole lot more enthusiastic about everything," he said.
Since becoming active in the performing arts, Feinberg has seen the number of theater groups on campus double from three to six. With several annual performances from the Pappys, Dickinson Community Players, the Hinman Production Company and the other theater groups, he feels that it might be too much. "I think we have to learn our limitations," he said. "There's only so much that should go on."
Contradicting the rosy picture Feinberg painted of the student body and campus activities, he feels that the administration has become less personal. He cited that while it once was very easy to speak to someone if he had a problem, now he would have to go through three people to get the same result. "Now it' s a big bureaucratic mess," he said. "It was [when I was a freshman] too, but it' s bigger now than it was before."
One of the most memorable experiences Feinberg has had at BU happened this semester while coming back from New Hampshire on a road trip with the Binghamtonics. They decided to stop at Ben & Jerry's ice cream shop, which turned out to be four hours out of the way. Then they chose to take a scenic back roads route and avoid the highways on the trip home. One of those back roads ended up going to the top of a ski slope. After reaching the top of the hill, they had to drive down a 30-degree incline in their minivan and everyone, especially the driver, was terrified. To allay the tension, they broke out into their alumni song.
This fall, Feinberg will be attending Boston University for mechanical engineering with a specialization in acoustics and vibrations. He managed to find a specialty that suits him well; now he will be studying sound instead of producing it with his fellow 'Tonics. He says he has definitely grown up here, saying, "[My] eyes have been opened to many new things."