At ValJam, the most recent Longfellow’s concert, audience members were thrilled to hear upbeat tunes like “Juliet” by LMNT and “Ignition Remix” by R. Kelly. This weekend, however, the Longfellows will be singing those pop songs alongside songs from years past, like “Sing me to Heaven” and “It is Well.”
This year marks the a cappella groups’ ten year anniversary and 20 former Longfellow members are coming to campus for a reunion.
The group, which started in 2004, has since become a core part of Bowdoin’s a cappella scene. It was founded by a member of the Class of 2007 who felt there was a need for another all-male group on campus. The Longfellows began as a barbershop quartet, called BBQ, but developed into the larger group they are today.
This weekend’s programming is planned by Alumni Relations, and includes a casual dinner on Friday night, a presentation on Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and a formal dinner with dates and friends Saturday night.
Kevin Ma ’17, one of the newest members of the group, is particularly excited for the Saturday dinner.
“Where have they been for the past 10 years?” said Ma. “Ten years worth of Longfellows, I’ve heard a lot of stories about past Longfellows, and based on the stories, they all sound like real characters.”
Saturday night’s dinner will feature most of the singing. First, the original group, BBQ, will perform, followed by a middle group of alumni and finally the current group. To conclude, all the members will sing together for their families, friends and dates.
“It’s very recent history, compared to the Meddies,” said Ma. The Meddiebempsters started in the 1930s and are the nation’s third-oldest a cappella group. However, the Longfellows consider their short history to be a unique and valuable quality.
“It’s what we treasure most,” said Shan Nagar ’16, who currently leads the group. “Since our group is so young, we’re privileged to be able to stay in close contact with the founding members. At any time throughout the year we can reach out for help and advice on life or music. Once we graduate, we’ll be able to reach out to members of the group.”
Ma said that he was looking forward to hearing the contrast between the old songs and the new.
“We’ll sing the songs of the Longfellows today, [and the alumni] will see what kinds of songs we do now. Then we’ll get together and sing the songs that all of us know. It’s like history through song,” said Ma.
Nagar also noted how exciting it is to see just how far the new a cappella group has come since its conception in 2004. In 2011, the group made it to the Top 30 on NBC’s reality show “The Sing Off;” that same year the group made the semifinals of the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella. This year the group performed at a Celtics game, just as they did in 2010.
“We’ve been fortunate to break out of the Bowdoin sphere,” said Nagar.
Additionally, Nagar said he appreciated the excuse to see the recent graduates this weekend:
“I think that really the point of the weekend isn’t just celebrating the ten year anniversary, that just gives us an occasion to do this,” said Nagar. “It’s a chance to build unity between every member of the Longfellows, every generation.”