After a long year without the chance to sing in person, the Bowdoin Meddiebempsters, Bowdoin’s oldest a cappella group, are back on stage.
When COVID-19 cases surged last March, the Meddiebempsters had just started their annual tour and were prepared to sing at colleges and venues all over the northeast. Timothy Solimine ’22, the group’s music director, learned that the spring tour was canceled while they were driving to one of their tour stops.
“It was Saturday, and we were driving away from campus to head down to Tufts, where we were performing, [when] we got the news [that our show] was cancelled,” Solimine said, in a Zoom interview with the Orient. “So then we knew our tour was ending, but at that point, we didn’t know that we were going to be heading home for the [rest of the] semester.”
While the Meddiebempsters had the unique opportunity to spend time together on the drive back to campus, they remained uncertain as to whether they would sing together as a group again before the Class of 2021 graduated.
Over the past year, even as the Meddiebempsters were scattered across the country, they continued to meet virtually and found ways to sing together virtually through Zoom calls and Discord, a voice calling app.
When the Office of Student Activities asked the Meddiebempsters to sing—masked, but in-person—at the May 1 Celebration, the group was thankful that they had remained connected through these meetings and virtual rehearsals throughout the academic year.
“We were all just as excited as you could express in a group text,” Solimine said. “Luckily, we put in work over Zoom throughout this semester to make sure we at least remembered our songs, so when we came together and sang for the first time, we could put it together in a week.”
Jay Sayler ’23, the Meddiebempsters’ social media manager and vice president of the A Cappella Council, was the first to receive the news about their May 1 performance as well as permission for the group to rehearse in person for the first time since last spring.
“I got an email from Student Activities saying they were allowing in-person rehearsals in Smith Union,” Sayler said. “So eight days ago was our first in-person rehearsal in almost 400 days, and that was very exciting.”
Choosing what songs to sing for the group’s first performance required the Meddiebempsters to fully examine their repertoire.
“We went through a lot of our songs, and they were all in pretty good shape because we had been working this whole semester to keep in touch with them,” said Solimine. “We then just essentially picked our favorites, which is always a good way to figure out what to sing.”
Since their performance on May 1, the Meddiebempsters are looking forward to future concerts and opportunities to continue singing together.
“We have at least one or two things booked for the fall already with [venues] off-campus,” said Jack Burnett ’21, the group’s business manager in a Zoom interview with the Orient.
Burnett, who will graduate this month, has missed getting to sing with his friends in the Meddiebempsters during his last year, but hopes to stay connected to the group in the future as an alum.
“I would love to come back and visit. I’m not entirely sure where I’ll be in the world at that point, but I hope to be able to see them,” said Burnett.
The Meddiebempsters are also eagerly anticipating the arrival of new members in the fall 2021 semester—they have not held auditions or welcomed any new members in over a year and a half.
“What I’m looking forward to most is actually auditioning and welcoming the new Meddies, because it’s been so long since we’ve had new members,” said Solimine. “The excitement of getting a whole new group that will potentially be some of my best friends is so exciting to look forward to.”