While the majority of students spent their Friday evening hanging out with friends or procrastinating on finishing work, one particular group of Polar Bears embarked on a road trip. Bowdoin’s all-female a cappella group, Miscellania, was on its way to perform at the glamorous Radio City Music Hall in New York City. After sending in a recording of the group singing several Christmas songs, Miscellania was invited to showcase its talent as an opening act for the Rockettes’ Christmas Spectacular Concert last Friday.
“Rehearsing beforehand, it was really surreal to think, ‘Here we are, doing our regular daily warm ups, in the back of Radio City [Music] Hall,’” said Caty Hanson ’19, the group’s music director. “It was kind of a weird revelation that we were actually about to sing on this huge stage where amazing performers have sung before.”
Although performing at Radio City may seem like a dream come true, the trip was not a perfect fantasy. Miscellania had to jump over a couple of minor hurdles on its way to the performance.
The group was required to sell a minimum of 50 admission tickets to the show (including their own admissions) which were priced at 75 dollars each. Miscellania used some of its club funding to subsidize tickets and successfully met the sales goal, thanks to the support of family, friends and the Student Activities Office.
Miscellania also had to balance the pressures of putting on a significant performance amid midterm season.
“It’s funny, actually. Probably at least half of our group on the drive up and back down was doing work. I was actually helping someone prepare for a midterm,” said Hanson. “There was a group that returned on Saturday and a group that returned later on Sunday, so we had the time to choose how our time was being spent.”
More importantly, Miscellania had to adapt to the idea of performing on such a huge stage, which was “way different than singing at Helm or in the Chapel,” according to Charlotte Nash ’19, the group’s business director.
“When you’re not singing at Bowdoin, you have to remember that you are representing Bowdoin,” said Nash. “When you’re singing for your friends, you’ll be forgiven for a couple mistakes you make, but when you’re singing in front of [strangers], you really want to perform your best.”
The performance was challenging in many ways, from arriving at Radio City Hall soaking wet after a heavy rain to not knowing what the acoustics of the stage were going to be like thanks to the absence of a sound check. Nonetheless, Miscellania gave a phenomenal performance on a historic stage with a two-song setlist, including “Carol of the Bells” and a jazz-like arrangement of “I’ll be Home for Christmas,” featuring a solo from Ariana Smith ’21.
This was not the first time the group garnered major attention outside of the Bowdoin bubble; it competed in the local TV series “Sing That Thing!” just last spring. The continuous professional success could become a source of pressure for the group, although Miscellania wishes to stay grounded.
“I think one of our greatest values is the feeling of inclusivity and support, and I don’t think these events have changed how we value the companionship of other groups,” Hanson said.
Miscellania, or Missy for short, is an all-female a cappella group created in the fall of 1972, the year after women were first admitted into the College. Since its creation, the group has focused on establishing a feminist presence on campus and in the community by empowering female voice through song, choosing a wide variety of songs that convey strong, feminist messages.
Miscellania will perform in Pickard Theater on December 7 alongside the rest of Bowdoin’s a cappella groups for its winter concert.