On April 26th we flew out to New York City to go to a show at Lincoln Center: the a cappella group I started at Skidmore, the Dynamics, made it to the finals of the ICCA. It's a pretty big deal, as they had to beat out some other groups to get there. They're also getting a lot of attention from the college and alumni, which is part of what I always wanted for them. In fact, they beat the Bandersnatchers and the Accents, both of whom tended to oppose the Dynamics in the group's early years.
New York City impressed me again with its vastness, the sheer volume of...artifice. On Saturday night we met up with Sue, my best friend from Loomis who's been living in the city since our graduation from college. We had some Ethiopian food, and then we walked around the Times Square/9th Avenue area, and it just felt like we could keep walking for endless miles and there would still be...stuff. Unending stuff, an infinite number of lit store signs and billboards and restaurants.
Sue pointed west and said, "Well, if it makes you feel any better, you don't have to go too far that way before you fall in the river."
I love Sue.
College a cappella groups are strange beasts. They're not something that anyone dedicates their life to: typically at most four years and they're gone. The continuance of the group depends on constantly accepting new members, at least a few of whom must have some desire or willingness and energy for leadership and the mundane tasks needed to keep the enterprise alive. You have to schedule rehearsals, find music, teach music, rehearse music, schedule concerts, find a guest group (east of the Mississippi, you usually find a guest group to (a) warm up the crowd for you, and (b) give you some new people to party and maybe have sex with afterward), and so on.
When you take new people into the group, obviously you take people you like, and whose personalities and talent will enable the group's continuance both as a social and musical entity (yes, we sing as well as drink beer). That plays itself out year after year, and the group develops a spirit of its own...something that it is, which the members only belong to and support. Like other such entities, the group grows an identity of its own.
It brought tears to my eyes to see that this thing which I worked so hard to nurture had endured without me, and three years after I left, the group had the same spirit of fun, smiling and connecting with the audience. I got to meet several of the current members: apparently they've been telling stories about me since I graduated, because I had a sort of "village elder" status, and people I'd never met were telling me how happy they were that I'd been able to come to the show. They were thanking me for giving them something that was important to their lives.