Archive for the ‘History and Alumni’ Category

A cappella singers support community through singing

Article by Hai Yu, George Washington University, May 2017

Bill Cline, Music Director, left.

In 1992, D.C.-based economist and a cappella singer Bill Cline was driving by Dupont Circle and was stunned to find many mentally disabled people wandering the streets, homeless. The scene reminded Cline of the impoverished Latin American countries where he had once worked.

In that moment 25 years ago, an idea was born.

Cline and his all-male a cappella group, “Augmented Eight,” would put on a “Sing Out for Shelter” concert in D.C. dedicated to helping the city’s homeless population.

In March, the concert—now in its 25th year—raised more money than ever before. A crowd of 550 concert-goers donated a total of $27,000, which Cline will turn over to the three D.C.-based shelters that he has long supported: Friendship Place, Christ House and Metropolitan House.

“The shelters are the professionals who know how to deal with the complex homeless situation,” said Cline. “We let them do their work to best help the homeless people.”

Despite a $14.8 million increase in funding for homeless services this year, the city’s budget still falls far short of meeting the housing needs of thousands of homeless people and their families, according to The D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute.

Officials at the shelters supported by Cline’s annual concerts said the extra money is critical to their operations.

“The donation helps us fulfill our programs,” said Jean Michel Giraud, president of Friendship Place, where programs including housing, job placement, youth training and outreach are provided to the homeless.

The concert has become so popular in recent years that the mayor’s office sent out a proclamation acknowledging “Augmented Eight’s effort to help the most vulnerable residents in D.C.”

Cline said that when the concerts first began, they drew small crowds in various locations scattered around the city

“We were sort of homeless ourselves,” said Cline. “We have performed at the Gaston Hall of Georgetown University and some small churches.”

The Metropolitan Memorial United Methodist Church, which has a shelter associated with the church, took the group in 15 years ago. Since then, the concert has become closely associated with the congregation at the church.

This year, a system that allows the group to sell tickets online boosted sales. Information about the concert was also available on the Eventbrite website, a popular site for local event browsing.

The group behind the successful concert are 12 members who include lawyers, physicians, State Department employees and an architect. They reside in D.C., Virginia and Maryland, but come together to sing during weekly rehearsals.


John Symington, President, center

John Symington, the current president and first tenor of “Augmented Eight,” is a former member of Yale’s renowned all-male a cappella group, “The Whiffenpoofs,” and was introduced to “Augmented Eight” at a “Whiffenpoofs” concert.

Besides the benefit concert, the group practices for an annual “Spring Sing” concert festival put on by the American A Cappella Alliance, a nonprofit organization promoting a cappella ensemble singing of all styles of popular music.

Symington said his recent favorite songs are “Who You Are” and “Oh Shenandoah.”

“Asking me what’s my favorite song is like asking a 100-year-old what’s his favorite pie,” said Symington. “I enjoy the song I am singing the most.”


Sing Out for Shelter turns 25, Whiffenpoofs cast their spell

WASHINGTON, March 6 — The fight against homelessness in Greater Washington was the winner of Saturday’s highly successful “Sing Out for Shelter” concert as cumulative proceeds for the last 25 years topped $300,000. All funds are distributed to Christ House, Friendship Place, and Metropolitan House, agencies working tirelessly in the District on behalf of our homeless population. The packed house at Metropolitan United Methodist Church was treated to a memorable evening of a cappella music, emceed by CNN’s Jim Sciutto, featuring hosts The Augmented 8, the Vassar Devils, the Knightlights of the Washington Waldorf School, and—a dramatic last minute substitution—the oldest and best-known collegiate a cappella group, the Whiffenpoofs of Yale.

The flu benched concert headliners, the Princeton Tigertones, leaving a potentially large gap in the anniversary program. But by divine providence, the Whiffenpoofs were between a Saturday afternoon concert in Baltimore and a Sunday concert in Alexandria amid a 29-concert,19-day tour. They agreed to give up a restful Saturday night to make it an even 30 and rewarded a grateful audience by filling the Tigertone slot in the program.

It should be noted that The Augmented 8 was formed over 65 years ago—a collaboration of graduates from both Princeton and Yale. Those ties remain strong today. We are grateful to all of our guest groups and faithful listeners for supporting this great a cappella tradition and the organizations doing such important work in our community. For the Tigertones, though, the pressure is clearly on. We will see you next year.

Augmented 8 Sent Congratulations from District Mayor Muriel Bowser

The Augmented 8
25th Annual Sing Out for Shelter Concert
March 4, 2017

As Mayor of the District of Columbia, it is my pleasure to extend greetings and congratulation to The Augmented 8 on the occasion of your 25th Annual Sing Out for Shelter Concert.

This is a significant milestone for The Augmented 8. For twenty-five years, this annual event has raised funds to help organizations in the District to provide services to our homeless.

I thank each of you for your contribution that has helped to enrich the quality of life of our most vulnerable residents.

I join the residents of the District of Columbia in wishing you a memorable event.

Muriel Bowser
Mayor, District of Columbia

Mayoral Proclamation, March 2017

Images of SOS 2016

Singers: Baritones, Bass, and Tenors Wanted.

wantedThe Augmented Eight is currently recruiting baritones, a bass, and tenors, and will hold auditions in late October and November. For more information, please send an email to music director, Bill Cline, or president, John Symington, at info(at)

“Mountain” Weekend, Currituck, and the Duck Jazz Festival

The Augmented 8 returned to the Outer Banks in North Carolina in 2015 for a group retreat over Columbus Day weekend.  On Saturday night October 10th the A8 performed for guests of the Sanderling Resort in Duck and on Sunday morning once again sang inside the historic Currituck Lighthouse.   Between concerts group members (and their kids) had the chance to walk on the beautiful Outer Banks beaches, bird watch, build sand castles and attend the famous Duck Jazz Festival.  We are grateful to Meghan Agresto, the Sanderling Resort and the other folks who helped make this weekend possible.

(slide show below takes a few seconds to load)

Founding member, stalwart bass, John M. Kauffmann dies at 91

JMK on Waterside porch (2)

John Kauffmann, Waterside

John Michael Kauffmann, 91, died peacefully at his Yarmouth, Maine, home on November 16, 2014.

Born in Champaign, Illinois, John grew up in the Washington, DC, area and spent summers at the family’s camp, Waterside, at Christine Lake in Stark, NH. He graduated from The Choate School in 1941 and went on to Princeton University to graduate cum laude in the class of 1945. At Princeton he was a member of the Charter Club and active in theater and music, and lettered in crew.

From 1944-46 John served as a diplomatic courier in Africa and Europe. After World War II, he prepared a history of his Princeton classmates’ contributions to the war effort. He reported at the Washington Star and wrote for National Geographic, including an August 1959 cover story about California’s great sequoias. He joined the National Park Service as a planner, assisting in the establishment of national parks including the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal and the Cape Cod National Seashore. In Washington, John helped forge a singing group of Princeton and Yale graduates, known as The Eight (and later as The Augmented Eight). The group still sings in the Nation’s Capital.

In 1972 the Park Service relocated John to Alaska to study areas under consideration for designation as national parks, monuments and reserves. His work contributed to the passage of legislation permanently conserving more than 100 million acres, and his home on Kershner Avenue in Anchorage became a meeting place for conservationists and students.

His 1973 book, Flow East: A Look at Our North Atlantic Rivers, celebrated rivers and canoes, and the people who work to conserve them. In 1980-81 John enrolled at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, whose Dean designated him Honorary Alumnus in 2012. John moved to Mount Desert Island in Maine to co-publish the Bar Harbor Times. In 1992 John published his second book: Alaska’s Brooks Range: The Ultimate Mountains.

In the latter 1990s, John achieved his life’s greatest dream: the permanent conservation of the woodlands around Christine Lake. At the same time John contributed to the founding of a local heritage center celebrating the people and history of Stark, NH. Beside the fireplace at Waterside, he played the guitar and sang well loved songs, such as a crowd favorite of his own composition, “Therapeutic Beer”.

John was a member of boards and organizations including the The Wilderness Society, the National Parks and Conservation Association, and American Rivers; Washington’s Cosmos Club, Metropolitan Club, and Chevy Chase Club; the Alaska Conservation Foundation; and, in Maine, the North Yarmouth Academy, College of the Atlantic, Cumberland Club, Maine Coast Heritage Trust, Natural Resources Council of Maine, Friends of Acadia, and the Forest Society of Maine.

A memorial service will be held at 1 pm on February 21, 2015, at the Congregational Church in Yarmouth, ME. Services will also be scheduled in Washington, DC, and Stark, NH.

page1image24848 page1image25008 page1image25168 page1image25328 page1image25488 page1image25648

When We’re 64 – Spring Sing 2014 Program Line-Up

Concerned that no one would need us or feed us now that we are sixty-four, this year the Augmented Eight traveled far and near in search of exciting “firsts.” On the “far” side, for the first time we held our annual Fall Mountain Weekend at the beach, and new baritone Reid Adler shortly heads to the Milwaukee Pug Fest for a milestone birthday. “Near” firsts include record receipts of nearly $25,000 at our annual Sing Out for Shelter charity concert, new T2s Mox Weber and Saumit Sahi commuting daily deep into the Virginia suburbs, and new baritone Ed Spitzberg frequenting Potomac, Maryland as Daddy Warbucks in a community theater production of Annie. We are all thrilled to be able to add Wilmington to our list of exciting travel firsts.

There She Goes
Music and lyrics, L.A. Mavers (La’s), Tom Springfield/Jim Dale (Seekers)
Arr. Tom Bulleit

When I Fall in Love
Music, Victor Young, lyrics Edward Heyman
Arr. Bill Cline

Brown-Eyed Girl
Music and lyrics Van Morrison
Arr. David Rodwin (Princeton Tiger Tones) and Bill Cline

Through the Years
Music Vincent Youmans, lyrics Edward Heyman,
Arr. G. Puerling (Hi Lo’s)

Ode to Joe
Music George Gershwin, lyrics Mike Wyatt
Arr. Peter Mucchetti

Still Rock and Roll to Me
Music and lyrics: Billy Joel
Arr: Bill Cline

1st Tenor: Ed Dickens, John Magnus~, John Symington, Mike Wyatt
2nd Tenor: Rick Bond, Tom Bulleit, Saumit Sahi*, Mox Weber*
Baritone: Reid Adler*, Bill Cline**, Josh Gotbaum, Ed Spitzberg*
Bass: Paul Kraske, Peter Mucchetti, Bill Nussbaum
*New Member; **Director, ~ On sabbatical

A8 adds new pipes to its ranks!

The Augmented Eight welcomes its two newest members, Saumit Sahi and Brandon Bierlein.

Saumit Sahi Saumit “Gen Z” Sahi – Second Tenor
Saumit graduated from Princeton in 2013. Notwithstanding the formidable curriculum offered at Saumit’s prestigious alma mater, Saumit occasionally requires additional explanation of cultural references in the A8 repertoire (such as references to whitewall tires, LP records and rotary dial telephones).
Rick Bond Brandon “It’s not a party without the” Bierlein– Baritone
Brandon, a lawyer, intends to join the judge advocate general’s corps of the United States Air Force. When pressed, Brandon assures us that he can handle the truth.



Augmented Eight Retreat to the Outer Banks

Members of the Augmented 8 and families enjoyed a great weekend earlier this month on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, guests of stalwart bass, Paul Kraske.  Activities included an entertaining (and educational) boat ride during which singers (and their kids) learned about fishing, crabbing and hunting on the Currituck Sound as well as a tour of the beaches north of Corolla to see the famous wild horses of the Outer Banks.

Saturday night October 5th the A8 performed for guests of the Sanderling Resort in Duck and Sunday morning had a rare opportunity to sing inside the historic Currituck Lighthouse.   Many thanks to Captain Alex Ross, Meghan Agresto, the Sanderling Resort and the other folks who made this special weekend possible.


Copyright © 2018 The Augmented Eight · This project powered by