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Ursus Verses sings together despite the distance

September 25, 2020

With only first years, transfer students and a select few upperclass students on campus this semester, maintaining club connections requires extra creativity in the virtual sphere. Ursus Verses, one of  Bowdoin’s coed a cappella groups, is working to overcome the challenges of remote learning and to cultivate a supportive musical environment despite the distance.

“We are a very goofy group of people that love each other with all our heart,” said Jackie Boben ’22, a member of Ursus Verses, in a Zoom interview with the Orient. “It’s just a supportive group who I feel is always there for me.”

Hope Keely ’21, co-leader of Ursus Verses, believes that meeting regularly has allowed the group to feel connected and productive during the remote semester.

“I would like to say that there is something extraordinary or special that we’re doing, but honestly I think it’s just the consistency,” said Keely in a Zoom interview with the Orient.

Ursus Verses meets at least once weekly, although their exact schedule depends on how busy the group is each week. Keely, along with co-leader Gabby Farrell ’21, want to ensure that commitment to the group does not feel like an extra burden on members during the remote semester.

“We’re working together and working as we want,” Keely said.

Despite the positive changes the club has introduced to adapt to their new reality, members are still facing challenges associated with singing over video call.

“Singing virtually is almost impossible,” Keely said. “It is something that we all want to do, and we want to be able to sing with one another, but we’ve had to sort of pivot and adjust from there.”

“We definitely are in some different time zones, which has made scheduling a little difficult,” added group member Lia Kornmehl ’23 in a Zoom interview with the Orient. “Group leaders have been really good with working around that so that we can be as inclusive as possible.”

The group is currently working on preparing for a virtual performance. All parts will be sung individually and asynchronously and will then be compiled and unified post-production. Keely expects Ursus Verses to release this recording sometime in the coming months.

In addition, the group hopes to maintain engagement with the larger College community, whether through Zoom meet-and-greets or increased social media outreach.

Ursus Verses would usually be recruiting new members during this time of year, but the group is not sure how they will proceed in a remote environment.

“Recruitment is such a tricky thing because so much of a capella is a tactile, in-person experience,” said Keely. “The situation at the moment does not allow for the most wonderful and friendly and welcoming audition process.”

While the a cappella recruitment process remains up in the air, Keely encourages those who are interested in singing with Ursus Verses to reach out to group leaders with any questions.

“We will not be seeking new members, but we will be seeking new members of our community,” said Keely.


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