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The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

Colgate, Hamilton A Cappella Groups Welcome Spring With Annual A Cappella Fest, Akfest Concerts

Printed with permission of Ryan Dugdale

Captivating the audience with a perfect synchrony of sounds, the third annual spring A Cappella Fest took place on Friday, April 12, at the Palace Theater. The event united Colgate University student groups with the surrounding Hamilton community to showcase the musical talent of more than 100 performers. Four of Colgate’s five a cappella groups performed, including the Colgate Mantiphondrakes, the Colgate Thirteen, the Colgate Dischords and the Swinging ’Gates, alongside the Blue Parsley Boys, a local a cappella group based in Hamilton, N.Y. The Colgate Resolutions (Resos) later performed at their annual concert, Akfest, on Saturday, April 13. It was the 32nd anniversary of the show, and many alumni attended to support the current members.

At the spring A Cappella Fest, each group sang four songs, with selections ranging from classic barbershop tunes to a cappella renditions of electronic music. The Blue Parsley Boys headlined the night with a selection of familiar and lighthearted songs, while incorporating energetic banter with the audience. Assistant Director of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Colgate Christian Vischi, a member of the Blue Parsley Boys, discussed the group’s impressive repertoire and history.

“Over the 25+ years since our founding, we have had other noted professors and alumni of Colgate as members of our group,” Vischi said. “We have a catalog of 200+ songs, of which we generally have around 30 performance-ready on a rotating basis, plus a holiday catalog for Christmas concerts of another 30 to 40 songs.”

Witnessing the various groups perform together, each showcasing distinct styles and approaches, highlighted the breadth of a cappella talent within the community. Both the audience and performers alike were brought together for one night of musical celebration, with each group putting their unique spin on the performance.

“As much as the audience enjoys the show, I think each of the groups takes away immense joy hearing the different styles, eras, solo articulations [and more] that each group brings to the floor,” Vischi said.

Junior Hadley Johnson, the musical director of the Mantiphondrakes, was impressed by how students arranged more contemporary songs while using traditional a cappella techniques.

“I thought the groups did an amazing job choosing new and popular songs. The Dischords had an awesome arrangement of ‘Northern Attitude’ by Noah Kahan, and the Swinging ’Gates had a really innovative performance of ‘Afraid to Feel,’” Johnson said. “We have so many talented students in the a cappella community, so I’m always very impressed by everyone’s creativity and passion.”

The feeling of community stood out as the overarching sentiment of the night as attendees relished in the joy of being in the presence of other music lovers, united by their shared love of song. Senior Izzy Olavarria, a member of the Swinging ’Gates, mentioned how pre-concert traditions help bring the ’Gates together.

“A Cappella Fest is always such a fun event that our group looks forward to because it’s all the groups coming together, including the local Blue Parsley Boys, so there’s a really nice community feel and special energy in the room,” Olavarria said. “The Swinging ’Gates have a tradition of hanging out before at someone’s house to practice and get ready together.”

Junior Leia Francis, member of the Colgate Dischords, also described the pure excitement of performing together.

“The whole group put a lot of hard work into learning our music and sounding the best we can this semester, but I think the most important aspect of our concert preparation was finding ways to have fun on stage and enjoy our time together,” Francis said.

This collective spirit demonstrates the deep connections and shared passion that define the a cappella community, which shines through when they perform for the Colgate community.

Following A Cappella Fest, the Resos walked down the aisles of the Colgate Memorial Chapel the next day at 7 p.m. in tuxedos and elegant black dresses. Not one bowtie was out of place as the crowd welcomed the group with applause, shouts and even some posters.

Senior Anika Panth spoke on behalf of the Resos’ devoted fan base.

“[The Resos] have a lot of passion and they love what they do, so we try to go to the Resos concerts every year, especially when they bring back alumni. It’s nice to see that the connection lasts so long,” Panth said.

Each song was introduced with a witty pun or joke, leaving the audience to guess what the song might be. Sophomore Corrigan Peters got the chance to introduce one of the songs.

“I picked a bad hiding spot,” Peters said to the audience.

During the opening notes of “You Found Me” by The Fray, the audience looked around and chuckled as they began to understand Peters’ corny yet engaging introduction. Peters himself was enthusiastic about getting to perform with such a talented group, and he was also excited to see familiar faces in the crowd.

“It’s always really fun. I just really love the group and getting to see the seniors kill it for their final Chapel concert,” Peters said. “Getting to have fun in front of a really fun crowd — we’ve got a lot of alumni coming back — makes it even [better].”

While the Resos have concerts throughout the year, Akfest is their biggest performance. It is a chance for the Resos to show the Colgate University community how hard they have been working throughout the semester to put on a great show.

Sophomore Maxwell Walker spoke on the uniquely large alumni presence at Akfest.

“We have lots of alumni at all of our concerts, but this is the one where most of them come back,” Walker said. “It’s what we prepare for all semester. This is the end goal, while the other concerts are more like checkpoints along the way.”

While current students understand the Resos to be a key part of our a cappella community, the group is relatively new when compared to other Colgate a cappella groups, like the Colgate 13 and the Swinging ’Gates.

Peters spoke to how special it is to see how the Resos continue to grow every year.

“It’s nice to see the a cappella community growing as friends, parents and alumni come back,” Peters said. “There are [over] 200 members ahead of me, and that number only gets bigger. Having more alumni coming back is always great.”

The alumni were invited onto the stage at the end of the set to sing “Operator” by The Manhattan Transfer. This final piece and inclusion of alumni is an Akfest tradition. They were greeted with hugs and smiles from current members as they were able to take the stage for Akfest once again.

Alumnus Paul Nugent ’21, who was a member of the Resos, was able to attend this year’s Akfest.

“I’ve come back for the last three Akfests. It’s always lovely coming back, especially to the Chapel,” Nugent said. “Just seeing how the space hasn’t changed but the people and the group absolutely have […], it seems like they get better every time.”

The alumni presence at Akfest, in addition to the two concerts at large, served as a profound reminder of the connections that Colgate has to offer, both within and beyond the Colgate and Hamilton a cappella community.

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