Every year, prospective singers come with a “brief solo and a smile” to audition for one or more of Bowdoin’s six a cappella groups. Most students know about the three main a cappella events—the recruitment concert in the fall and the winter and spring concerts at the end of each semester—yet few know of the A Cappella Council, the organizing body behind the scenes.

Their anonymity isn’t puzzling to Noah Gavil, chair of the Council and member of co-ed group Ursus Verses.

“It is not a public entity, but more of an organized group that is a vehicle of communication which helps with the logistics on campus,” he said.  

The council helps to organize the logistics of the draft—choosing which first years will be in which group—as well as to ensure that there are no overlaps with first year members, who are only allowed to join one group.  

Gavil also monitors songs chosen by all six groups, ensuring each group will perform different songs.

The Council also distributes funds for recording CDs. Each year it chooses two groups who receive the majority of the funding to record, and the next year these selected groups get a smaller amount. This three-year cycle ensures that all groups get an equal chance to produce CDs.

“Among those 90 people [in a cappella], we can represent the Bowdoin campus in an extremely unique way, because everyone involved in a cappella is usually involved in something else and that can be sports or other music things or ResLife,” said Gavil.

Although rumors around campus allege rivalries between the groups, Gavil hopes to make them more congenial.

“In the past, there have been some artificial divisions within the group—mainly socially driven—and we’re trying to put an end to them,” he said. 

“The council is all on the same page of making the a cappella community a ‘thing,’ and it always hasn’t been a ‘thing’ in the past,” said Gavil.

Gavil spoke about the support on campus for a cappella. Groups rarely have to worry about attendance for their performances. 

His advice for the many prospective singers: “Audition for as many groups as you feel comfortable auditioning for. If you get the opportunity to make a choice between groups, then through auditions and callbacks, you’ll get a greater sense of the distinctions between groups, which can help define a decision.”