University of Rochester

Currents--University of Rochester newspaper

Ramblers harmonize their way to the top
Nov. 17 concert celebrates release of new CD
By David Andreatta
There was a time when the Midnight Ramblers, a male a cappella group at the University, was a warbling cry from center stage in the arena of collegiate a cappella.
That was before the 15-member group turned heads by placing third in the 2005 International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella—the Super Bowl of vocal competitions held annually at Lincoln Center in New York City.
Demand for their harmonies has been on a high note ever since, with the group booking performances at high schools, colleges, professional sporting and charity events, and private functions around the country. Last spring, the group even took its act overseas to perform in London.
Now the Ramblers, as they’re informally known, are enjoying the Triple Crown of collegiate a cappella with news last week that a third a cappella compilation album in the last year had selected one of their arrangements as part of its track.
The group’s cover of Cartel’s “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” will appear on 2008 Best of College A Cappella, arguably the most highly coveted compilation album for college groups that features tracks by vocal heavyweights Tufts University’s Beelzebubs and the University of Pennsylvania’s Off The Beat.
The achievement caps a banner year for the Ramblers in which their rendition of “Minstrel’s Prayer” was featured on the international compilation album Sing IV, and their “Question!” was named to the collegiate compilation Voices Only 2007.
“There are these amazing college groups that we’ve always looked up to and now we’re realizing, wow, we’re with them,” says the Ramblers Bobby Sanborn ’08. “For me, it’s a high.”
The timing of 2008 Best of College A Cappella could not be better for the Ramblers, who have scheduled the release of their seventh full-length CD, Manifesto!, to coincide with their annual fall concert on November 17 at 8 p.m. in Strong Auditorium. Tickets are $5 for students and $7 for others.
Founded in 1998 and defined by their trademark blue and grey baseball jersey stage getup, the Ramblers have endeared themselves to audiences with energetic performances and self-deprecating humor. (The back cover of a DVD the group released last year suggests the disc could be used as a coaster.)
Jeff Le ’08, another Ramblers member, says what he finds most rewarding about the rise of the Ramblers is representing the University.
“It’s really very special,” Le says. “The University of Rochester is competing all the time on the research front. But I like to think we’re also competing on the a cappella front.”
Visit the group’s Web site at
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