Posts Tagged ‘a cappella’

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

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.

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.

 

 
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