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Recent a cappella concert marks the College’s first large indoor arts gathering since prior to the pandemic

September 30, 2021

After a twenty-month long hiatus, Bowdoin’s six a cappella groups reconvened last Friday at Kresge Auditorium for their annual recruitment concert, one of the College’s first large indoor gatherings since prior to the pandemic.

“It felt amazing to finally be back in an auditorium, watching groups perform,” said Henry Jodka ’24. “While everyone had to have masks on, it was so much fun to go to this event—the energy in the room was buzzing.”

Traditionally held on the second Friday of the fall semester, this year’s recruitment concert was pushed back due to obstacles presented by COVID-19. Several performers were either close contacts or isolating at the time of the originally scheduled performance, leading to its postponement.

The College’s move to status Yellow and ongoing indoor mask mandate drove groups out of the studio to rehearse outside. In addition, while the poor ventilation in the Chapel moved the concert outdoors to the Studzinski Odeum, the weather conditions on Friday night moved the concert indoors again at the last minute to Kresge Auditorium, with a fixed capacity of 300.

Kate John ’22, co-president of the A Cappella Council and co-music director for Miscellania, said she was pleased with the event.

“I was really impressed by how well all of the groups did, considering that most groups are a lot smaller than they normally are,” John said. “I think we put on a great show, and I think for everyone in all of the groups and for all of the concert attendees, it was just really exciting to have everyone back together again and actually perform in person, rather than on screen. It was a lot of fun, and I was just so happy that we had as many people as we did.”

Last year, due to the social distancing restrictions on campus, most of the a cappella groups went on a hiatus. In fact, only three groups—BOKA, Bear Tones and the Longfellows—decided to hold auditions, and only virtually. None of the groups had public concerts.

As BOKA’s only first-year addition last year, Afia Oduro-Manu ’24 had not performed in a group in-person since her senior year in high school and said she was uncertain about finally performing with the group.

[Last year], I couldn’t really tell how I would fit into the group, but now [in-person] I definitely feel like it’s a good fit for me,” Oduro-Manu said.

Ushered in by the concert, a new round of recruitment is already well underway. After four days of auditions, and call-backs, all six a cappella groups will soon complete their 2021-22 rosters.

“I think a lot of the groups are just really excited to welcome a new crop of singers,” John said. “We … primarily have first years and sophomores who are auditioning, and all the groups are accepting more people this year than they normally would be because we haven’t been able to recruit in the previous year.”

All six a cappella groups, with their latest recruits, will perform over Family Weekend from October 22-24. The winter a cappella concert will take place in Pickard Theater just before winter break in December.

“I think people are really excited about a cappella on campus, which was something we weren’t sure [of] going in,” said Jay Sayler ’23, co-president of the A Cappella Council and member of the Meddiebempsters.

“We didn’t do much last year, so we thought maybe people would have just forgotten that a cappella was a thing. [It] sounds like that even if they did, they’re now excited to remember,” Sayler said. “So I have very high hopes for a cappella this year.”


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