Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
For two nights only, all seven of Swarthmore’s a capella groups will come together for Jamboree, the semesterly instrument-free extravaganza, taking place tonight and tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. in Lang Concert Hall. Jamboree always provides a rich (and very extended) portrait of the musical diversity of Swarthmore’s beat-boxing culture, as well as its enthusiasm for this most low-budget of art forms.
This semester the festivities will be hosted by Chaverim, a co-ed group focussing on Jewish music which is also the only of the seven groups to included members from Bryn Mawr and Haverford. When asked what the theme for this year’s Jamboree would be, Chaverim member Mikio Akagi ’08 responded not, “TV shows!” but rather, “unabashed” self-promotion. “More bombast for your activities fee buck… It is doubtless the most thrilling, action-packed, tear-jerking, laugh-out-loud funny Jamboree since 2006, at least.”
The other groups performing are co-ed pop group Mixed Company, early music group Cantatrix, all-female pop group Grapevine, all-male pop group Sixteen Feet, co-ed Essence of Soul, and co-ed jazz group Oscar and Emily. A common theme will be, as is usual in spring Jamborees, departing seniors, such as Ben Thuronyi ’07 of Mixed Company. “He’s been a member of Mixed Company for four years and we’re sad to see him go,” says fellow member Marina Lima ’09. The group is also welcoming two new members this semester.
Other groups will be introducing important new repertory. A major achievement of Cantatrix this semester is their first madrigal containing the words, “fa la la,” according to member Elizabeth Medina-Gray ’07. More seriously, the concert will also contain “our first performance of truly medieval music in recent memory,” and also music from the 19th century.
Grapevine hints at some fun new songs as well. “Everyone knows that the most nostalgic and danceable music ever came from the early ’90s…. we’re super-excited to present our recent additions to this genre at Jambo,” said member Laura Wolk ’09. “We’ve also decided that we’re a little tired of the solo-with-background type of a capella, so we’re planning to switch things up a bit.” Mixed Company also promises defiance of the usual a capella melody-accompaiment-human drum machine paradigm, and Lima said that “each song has something unique about it so the set is very eclectic.”
Chaverim, as the only Tri-Co group, faces some unique challenges. “Rehearsing is difficult because preparing for Jambo really requires extra rehearsals and with lots of busy students at three difference campuses it’s more difficult than it is with the average group,” Akagi said. Mass a capella marathons have not yet invaded Haverford or Bryn Mawr, and “the Bi-Coers aren’t quite as wrapped up in the Jamboree culture, though they are also excited.”
“Excited” is perhaps too mild a word to describe this semester’s event, though. “It will blow your mind. It will astound and shock you. You will laugh, you will cry, and you will blow your nose at inappropriate moments, but hopefully only the laughing bit will happen at the concert,” Akagi concluded.