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Round Midnight: Acapella tries to save us from Finals!

May 12, 2009

Aries Indenbaum ’09

As the year winds down, everything speeds up. Like a weird academic-extracurricular gyre, concerts, recitals and shows pile up as the need to finish papers and ace tests becomes more pressing.

Today was...
- Coffee with Krislov (college president/pop icon solves your many woes)
- Astronomy (Saturn is out!)
- Black River Belles (Bluegrass Study Break!)
- Cinema studies films on the side of Mudd Library (Resourcer's Apprentice, Catatomb, and Reader Madness)

Yesterday, I saw Round Midnight, Oberlin's only co-ed a capella group. They were phenomenal, incredible, ballin, and great. Named after the Thelonious Monk standard, the group is really young, just 3.5 years old. I remember seeing the posters as a freshman: "'Round Midnight, co-ed folk/jazz a capella! Contact Julia + Kehan!"

"Hmm," I said at the time and dutifully wrote down email addresses. When I got back to my dorm, I realized what a terrible idea doing one more thing would be.

In high school, I sang in every choir; I took voice lessons on the weekend, sang at New York All-State Choir, qualified for All-Eastern, and did musicals. My first year here, I did music hardcore: Oberlin College Singers, Voices for Christ, Women's Choir. And slowly, I drifted away. I wanted to do new things, no matter how awesome Oberlin's music was. Still, it tugs at me.

Watching Round Midnight was awesome because I could get just how good they were. Each part blended perfectly, both within their section and across the whole group. Everyone dressed up, all on different points on the snazzy spectrum. Iris and Andrew were really sweet--in his hat and suit, Andrew looked like a bible salesman; Iris looked like a proper lady.

The pieces weren't just a capella standards, but folk and jazz as well, like Sir Duke, Lush Life, and Lullaby in Birdland.

The pieces were arranged by Oberlin students, some Composition/TIMARA majors, some college musicians. The arrangements were amazing. Most a capella groups have tenors/sopranos scoring up the melody, with baritones thumping a bass beat and altos singing some soupy harmony consisting of three notes. If I listen to a lot of a capella, it all generally blends together. It gets boring.

Except that Oberlin musicans aren't boring--they mix things up. There were more trade-offs and interplay between more parts, the melody/harmony/rhythms split across the entire group.

In short: greatness.

Despite all these study breaks, things still get odd around finals. There's more street art, more acts of helpful weirdness.

One person left a series of documents on the library computers, with just the title saved, without any content within the files:
"Help me"
"No seriously help me"
"These aren't just desktop documents "
"I'm calling for your help"
"From another realm"
"Stand up and shout!"

Good luck, kiddo. There's still one more day of Reading Period.

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