Concert celebrates a cappela

Friday night’s “Spring Sing” showcased Dartmouth’s a cappella talent in an exhilarating, emotional performance of diverse vocal groups from colleges across the country.

Opening the show, the Rockapellas tactfully interwove their new material with crowd favorites like “Spider Webs” and “Hooked on a Feeling.” As one of the newest Rockapellas, Brenda Withers ’00 debuted with a sultry version of Sarah McLachlan’s “Ice Cream.”

The group bid an emotional farewell to the Rockapella seniors, serenading them with a beautiful arrangement of McLachlan’s “I Will Remember You.” Seniors in the audience cried along with the Rockapella women as they embraced one another.

The Rockapellas ended their set with a powerful solo from Rachel Derkits ’99 in “Burn My Heart Out Wounded Knee,” a tune addressing the massacre of the Sioux and the government’s abuse of reservation lands.

Amherst’s DQ, who performed later in the program, paled in comparison to the Dartmouth groups. Their soft barbershop style and poor solos magnified an already weak stage presence.

Although their arrangement of Sesame Street’s “Rubber Ducky” amused audiences, the group relied more heavily on humor than on talent; references to He-Man and imitations of Kermit the Frog could not salvage the bland selections. Only the interweaving of scat singing and the final rendition of “Riverdance” saved the group from disaster.

But the Dartmouth Aires more than compensated for their invited guests, exploding on stage with the fast-paced tune “Take Me On.” J.C. Martinez ’97 showed his tremendous talent with his rendition of Pearl Jam’s “Better Man.”

The Aires even succeeded in taking their skits to a higher level with “Westside [Buffet] Story”, a song and dance parody of Dining Services reminiscent of the Bernstein and Sondheim musical.

Announcing the recent 50th anniversary of the group, director Jason Fleming ’98 explained the origins of the Dartmouth Engine-Aires and invited Aires alumni to sing with the present group.

The audience murmured with surprise when over 75 men rose from their seats to join the members on stage. Together the singers performed a moving rendition of “Dartmouth Undying” followed by Westside Story’s “Somewhere” which brought the crowd to their feet.

As an encore Fleming dazzled with “Jesse’s Girl,” interrupting his singing to answer the audience’s cheers with a smooth “That’s right.” The Aires took the stage for a second encore with Dave Matthews’ “Ants Marching,” building the music part by part as each singer returned from backstage.

The sold out show was successful on many levels, and everyone left with a sweet taste in their mouths (except maybe Amherst DQ).

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