What’s Abuzz in A Cappella?

While most undergrads can get an earful of a cappella at semester shows in Strong Auditorium and the May Room, news about the plans of each group outside of their seasonal concerts sometimes goes unnoticed. Even with the fall a cappella season coming to a close, all four campus ensembles are still hard at work on fine tuning their harmonies for albums, competitions, and beyond!

After Hours, the University’s co-ed a cappella group, is starting off next semester with some “pitch perfect” plans.  On January 31st, the group will compete in the International Championship for Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA), a judged event that showcases talent from campuses across the nation.  This will be the group’s fourth appearance at the show in the last five years.

Still reeling from the release of their most recent album, Duality, last spring, musical director John Queenan ’17 is excited to see what the future has in store for the group.

Duality features tracks from their award winning 2013 ICCA set. The recording project, which totaled over $15,000, was the culmination of two years of recording, mixing, and audio mastering.  Featuring modern hits from artists such as Justin Timberlake, David Guetta, Kelly Clarkson, and Imagine Dragons, the album also features an original composition from group member Alex Murray ’13.

The Midnight Ramblers recently wrapped up their latest semester show in Strong Auditorium, “The Rambling Dead.” While the zombified Ramblers took the stage for a concert experience they deemed “ever deader,” musical director Tom Downey ’14 hopes to keep the group fully awake and alive for their next project—a professionally recorded album.

This upcoming album will be the 11th in the Ramblers’ discography, which spans back to 1999.  The Ramblers are currently in the process of recording on campus, using the facilities of the Computer Studies Building, and hope to release the album at their upcoming spring concert on April 11th.  The album will feature some of the Rambler’s greatest hits from the past few years, bringing back old favorites that you won’t want to miss out on!

The Ramblers are also gearing up for their annual spring break tour.  With past years taking them to NYC, Nashville, and beyond.  They are excited to find out where their next musical adventure will take them.

The lovely ladies of Vocal Point hope to close out the semester with some holiday cheer through their annual winter show. With cookies, cocoa, and carols, the all-female ensemble will highlight the joy of the holidays despite the stress of the reading period.

Last year, the group sponsored Project EMPOWER, collaborating with a local middle school to provide musical and esteem-building workshops for the Young Women’s College Prep.  Looking to the future, Vocal Point plans to begin work on their next studio album in the spring semester.  Their last album, Daylight Again, was released in 2012.

This semester, the YellowJackets launched Project Forte, a philanthropic initiative aimed at bringing music and medicine together.  As a recipient of the Kauffman Entrepreneurial Year (KEY) Scholarship, Abhishek Sharma ’14 wanted to create opportunities for musicians on campus and in the local community to perform in hospitals and hospice facilities in the Greater Rochester area.

Sharma hopes to create a culture that promotes the use of music therapy in local health institutions. Music has been shown to increase quality of life for patients in medical settings by improving social and emotional well-being.  With Project Forte, the YellowJackets hope that the community is able to “note the difference” that music can make.

Last November, the YellowJackets released their 17th studio album, 50 Shades of Yellow.  Since then, they have also released a digital single, “Say Something,” a heartfelt rendition of A Great New World’s original.  Next year, the Jackets hope to release even more singles, leading up to their next album.

A Cappella Accolades

By Caitlin Mack ’12 (T5)
Univ. Communications

The University of Rochester’s co-ed a cappella group After Hours emerged victorious at the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella Mid-Atlantic Quarterfinals at Penn State on Saturday, February 9th, beating 10 other highly competitive groups and placing first in the competition.

The ICCA competition, of which popular comedy “Pitch Perfect” is based, is the only international tournament that showcases the art of collegiate a cappella.  Each year, the tournament takes place from January through April in six regions: West, Midwest, South, Mid-Atlantic, Northeast America, and Europe. Each region holds several quarterfinal events and the top two college groups advance to semifinals. A final event is held in New York City’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, where groups compete for cash prizes and the coveted title of Grand Champion.

After Hours’ set of three songs featured the smooth solo vocals of Rei Ramos ’15 on “Too Close” by Alex Clare, which stunned the audience and the judges with its dub-step drop in the last chorus. And, according to The A Cappella Blog, “Too Close” showcased the “monster vocal percussion” skills of Ethan Lobenstine ’12 (T5). The set also included a choral take on Regina Spektor’s “Samson” featuring soloist Michaela Reichert ’16 and David Guetta’s “Titanium” featuring powerhouse soloist Rohini Rege ’14.

Video: After Hours Performs at ICCAs

In addition to winning the competition, musical director Ben McCormack ’13 and Lobenstine were given a special award for “Best Arrangement” for all three songs in the set.  After Hours, along with the 2nd place group, the Penn State Statesmen, will perform at the Mid-Atlantic semi-finals at Rutgers University in New Jersey on March 30.

United-We-SingIn other University a cappella news, Rochester all-male group, The Yellowjackets, were recently named a “Top 10 Must-Hear College A Cappella Group” by schools.com.  The website praised the Jackets new album “United We Sing” and their after-school program (also called “United We Sing”) designed to cultivate a passion for a cappella in local schools.

Audio: Hear “Wavin’ Flag” from “United We Sing”

 The group also was recently nominated for a 2013 Contemporary A Cappella Recording Award (CARA) for their song “I Smile” off of “United We Sing” in the Best Religious Song category. The winners will be announced on April 5 at a live awards ceremony at BOSS, Boston Sings, and then posted to casa.org.

Tinkerer, Scholar, Hacker, Innovator

Rochester Review – For more than a week in May, Andrew Tomich ’14, Jared Suresky ’12, and other members of the Midnight Ramblers will hole up in makeshift recording booths in the basement of Spurrier Gym. There, over the course of back-to-back, 12- to 15-hour days, they will haul into the building their own microphones, their own portable recording system, computers loaded with professional software, and other equipment to record up to a dozen new songs.

At the end of the marathon sessions, the members of the a cappella group will emerge, bleary-eyed—maybe a little hoarse—but with a laptop containing the gist of their 10th “studio” album. The do-it-yourself method is how the Ramblers have recorded all nine of their albums over the last decade: on their own, late into the night, with their own equipment.

They have no faculty members to guide them, no tech support crew to troubleshoot problems, and no formal training in how to record digital music. They have just their own desire to create a collection of music they can share with their fans.

“We keep teaching ourselves how to do it,” says Tomich, a biomedical engineering major from Cleveland. “A lot of what we’ve learned is through experimentation, and through one generation of Ramblers handing off the knowledge to another generation.

“We kind of make do,” he says.

And make do very well. With albums regularly selected as among the best in the collegiate a cappella world, the Ramblers are something of an ongoing digital media enterprise. In addition to recording their own tracks (they rely on a professional engineering company to mix the albums), they conceive, record, and produce their own videos, and they oversee their own advertising and communications effort. All done digitally on their own equipment.

As the tools—the cameras, computers, software—that used to be available to only the most sophisticated professional have become practically standard on introductory laptops, if not on smartphones, students at Rochester and across the country are teaching themselves how to create their own artistic, personal, and professional digital portfolios.

And they take on the projects because they want to, regardless of their majors or whether they’ve taken classes or been formally trained in digital media. It’s not just for film geeks or photo mavens or computer jocks any more.

Couple that ubiquity with the 24/7, can-do, let’s-make-something-cool spirit that’s contagious among college students, and academic leaders say the University is poised not just to make advances in the world of digital media and art, but also to help rekindle a spirit of innovation.

Tom DiPiero, dean for humanities and interdisciplinary studies, says one of the hallmarks of students who have grown up in the Internet era is that they’re immune to the notion that creativity is bound within individual disciplines. Riffing on the British scientist C. P. Snow’s famous critique of academia and the danger of compartmentalization, DiPiero says students don’t think in terms of “two cultures” any longer, if they ever did.

“Any of us who are older still think in terms of the divides—the arts and humanities side and the science and engineering side,” says DiPiero. “That’s not how kids think today. They might have a predilection toward one or the other side of things, but they don’t think in those kinds of boxes.”

In an effort to further strengthen the connections among intellectual interests, Arts, Sciences & Engineering is launching a multipronged initiative this spring with the goal of providing students with an academic and cocurricular home for their multidisciplinary interests.

The clearest manifestation is a new building, which campus planners hope to break ground on later this year, that will house state-of-the-art space for students to explore, create, and study digital media, including video and audio production, website technology, and mobile applications.

Built to connect with Morey Hall, the new building will provide much of the technologically equipped studio space for two new majors designed to give students an academic structure to channel their interests in the arts, humanities, and digital technology. One major, in digital media studies, has begun enrolling students for the fall; the second, in audio and music engineering, is expected to be approved soon.

DiPiero says the new major in digital media is designed to give students a liberal arts grounding in perspectives about narrative, analysis, video production, film history, media, technology, and other humanistic approaches, complemented with production-oriented classes in video, audio, Web, and other technologies.

Such a program will not only improve the digital skills of students, but will also provide them with a broad perspective to think critically about the technology around them, he says.

“If you know the history, if you know the aesthetics, you are much more likely to be able to produce something that people will want to watch,” says DiPiero. “But we also want to address the fact that every educated adult needs to be both a critical reader of media—that is, they need to know how to look at media, how to understand them historically, socially, and even aesthetically—and at the same time, they need to know something about how to produce these forms of media.”

Tomich of the Ramblers says having a broader sense of the history and aesthetics of media production would only improve the quality of the group’s productions.

“As a non-major, I’m interested in those things; as a user I’m interested in those things,” he says. “If it was a major, I’d still be interested in those things. Knowing where things have come from enables you to create better work.

“I would have no qualms about taking a history class to understand why we have what we have, and how it has progressed to this point. I think that’s really cool.”

The idea of channeling student inquisitiveness and innovation guides a second main component of the new building—a state-of-the-art “studio for engineers”—known as the fabrication center, or “fab lab,” where students can fabricate prototypes and work with materials for shaping ideas into products.

Rob Clark, dean of the Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, says the design of the fab lab and its placement within the new building acknowledges that innovative ideas come from across the spectrum of students.

He, too, has seen a trend among students to bridge what traditionally have been seen as distinct disciplines. For example, last year, when a computer-aided design course required for mechanical engineering students was mistakenly listed in the course schedule as having no prerequisites, the first 25 to 30 seats were filled with arts and sciences students. The Hajim School had to offer a second section to accommodate the additional demand.

Clark attributes the enrollment to students’ interest in the gaming industry and the growth of virtual online worlds, but he says it’s a fitting example of how students approach new technologies.

“Students here and at other institutions are less driven by the requirements and constraints put on any particular discipline,” Clark says. “They are interested in learning what they’re curious about at the time. They’re less interested in the boundaries between disciplines. I think this space creates an opportunity to say, ‘We encourage that.’”

Bradley Halpern ’12, president of the Students’ Association, says students have long been tinkering with media production, particularly campus performing groups who produce video and audio projects. Regardless of major, students think nothing of drawing on other disciplines to figure out how to solve a problem.

“People are starting to realize that you need crossdisciplinary study to solve the world’s problems,” says Halpern. “It’s a way of thinking that makes us, as students, more capable and more likely to take that approach when we’re in the workforce.”

An engineer, Halpern is focusing his major on human-computer interaction, a field that explores the social, cultural, and psychological ways that people interact with technology and how to improve that experience. He draws on his interests in computers, political science, music, and other fields as he explores ways to make technology more user-friendly.

Halpern works with Jeff Bigham, an assistant professor of computer science who helped draft the new major in digital media studies. Bigham says technological fields like computer engineering are just beginning to recognize how much artists, psychologists, and humanists can bring to the design of technology.

The new initiatives can only spark more collaboration among students, who, he agrees, no longer think in terms of “us” and “them” when it comes to digital culture.

“We older people might think that there are two groups,” he says. “Younger people are just thinking, I’m a digital media person and I might sample from computer science or I might sample from art and art history. They’re already doing it; why not just formalize it?”

Bigham notes that the willingness of students to explore the potential of technological tools is not new. Such creativity lies at the heart of what most people think of as “hacking,” or the nonmalicious approach of taking a gadget apart, figuring out how it works, and using its concepts and parts to create something new. In that sense, the arts and humanities are particular hotspots right now, he says.

“It used to be the computer scientists who were going off and gluing together hardware, and they were writing their own software to do stuff that they thought was cool, to get stuff done,” Bigham says. “Now, we’ve matured as a discipline; we have all this stuff. Now it’s the artists, who don’t have formal training in computer science or in electrical engineering, who are taking whatever they can find, gluing it together in whatever way they want to be able to achieve whatever art they want to create. They are the ones who are doing the hacking that really started with computer programming.”

For his part, Clark wouldn’t mind rekindling the idea that being a good engineer means being a good tinkerer.

As do other engineering administrators around the country, Clark notes that the profession’s success in making sure that students are mathematically prepared and comfortable working with computer technology has lessened the likelihood that incoming engineering students have experience in developing, producing, or improving physical products.

“Our students come in with great math and science skills,” he says. “That’s true across the field of engineering. It’s generational. But part of education is always to find the components of the things that someone needs to learn to succeed in a particular career. In engineering part of what you need to succeed is to understand how things work. To do that, you need to be able to take things apart or put them together and to conceive design.

“I want to encourage engineering students to use the space as an art student would use an art studio. If you’re a sophomore and you have an idea of some widget you want to build, then you should be able to figure out what tools you need to use to build the device and be able to go into the lab and build it.”

Cary Peppermint, assistant professor of art and art history, says artists have traditionally been willing to do exactly that—go into a studio and use the tools at hand to pursue an artistic vision. What’s new is that the technology is different and the approaches to art tend to be more collaborative and interactive than they’ve been in the past.

He’s the founder of an artistic collective that uses technology such as GPS programs, Web interfaces, and social media to analyze and question modern society’s connections with nature.

In his classes, he and his students explore ways to repurpose technologies to create new artistic works and to develop interactions between artists, viewers, and art.

“The collaborative and interdisciplinary component is different from an artist’s perspective,” he says. In contrast to the stereotypical image of the lone artist, most digital art requires a group of programmers, graphic designers, artists, digital video, and sound producers.

“No one can be an expert in all those things,” Peppermint says. “It’s a new way of working. That’s very exciting.”


One of the students in Peppermint’s introduction to digital art class, Nicolette Howell ’13, says she’s used to tinkering as a studio arts major interested in photography. The brooding images in a recent portfolio of her work hide a menagerie of menacing shapes and shadows within swirls of computer-enhanced smoke. All created with imagination, vision—and software.

Like generations of photographers and artists before her, the junior from Dacula, Ga., is learning to experiment with her medium and her equipment to get the results she sees in her mind’s eye.

She’s already acquainted herself with Photoshop, After Effects, Illustrator, and other commercial-level image and design programs. In the course on digital art last winter, she used software to animate her images so that they moved as viewers clicked them on a computer screen.

The project was her first effort at interactive art, and it piqued her interest in improving her skills with increasingly advanced technology. She doesn’t want to be a computer programmer, but she does want to know enough about software to help express her artistic ideas.

Says Howell: “I always think that learning about more things will make my work better.”

Article written for the May-June issue of Rochester Review by Scott Hauser, editor of Review.

In the Photos:

ROLL ‘TAPE’: Setting up their own equipment in practice rooms in Spurrier Gym, Jared Suresky ’12 (singing), Kevin Layden ’13 (left), Noah Berg ’12, Andrew Tomich ’14, and the rest of the Midnight Ramblers have recorded nine CDs, teaching themselves how to use new technology.

DESIGNING TIMES: Computer science professor Jeff Bigham says technologists have begun to recognize the contributions of humanists and social scientists in making technology more user-friendly.

STUDIO ARTIST: Nicolette Howell ’13, a studio arts major from Dacula, Ga., says an introductory class on digital art piqued her interest in learning more about how she can use technology to broaden the range of artistic expression she can bring to her photographic work.

Photos courtesy of J. Adam Fenster, University Communications.

Rochester Senior Finds Success on the Stage

International Theatre Program – “I came into school thinking I was going to be pre-med,” Andrew Polec, KEY ’12, said when asked about his interest in pursuing an MFA in acting.  After his short-lived science kick, he became interested in business. It wasn’t until his sophomore year that he fully realized his passions for English, theatre, and music. Since then, Polec has finished two clusters in biology and psychology, doubled majored in music and English with a concentration in theatre, and completed an honors thesis on families in American drama. He also sang for four years in the dreamy, all-male a cappella group, the Midnight Ramblers. But these days he’s known on campus for his roles in nine UR International Theatre Program (URITP) productions, and as the lead singer in the popular band, Khat House. No longer looking forward to a career in medicine, Polec is finishing up a fifth year as a KEY Scholar, and performing in the final play of his undergraduate career, Adding Machine: A Musical, at Todd Theatre.

Polec has been busy this year. In October, he starred in URITP’s production of An Absolute Turkey just as his Kauffman Entrepreneurial Year was getting underway.  His project: starting a student-run record label at the University of Rochester, signing a band, recording an album, and releasing the record.  Polec and his colleagues were successful in all of these aims.  The label is called “yoUR Record Label,” and they signed Polec’s own band, Khat House.  They released their EP, “Welcome to Khat House,” at a sold-out concert on April 14. They also performed on April 27 as part of Dandelion Day’s performance line-up. They have sold a lot of albums, Polec said, and they hope to sell many more. “The life lessons that I’ve learned while being with that band have been nothing short of tremendous,” Polec said, reflecting on his time with Khat House.

The future of the band is currently up in the air as this coming fall Polec will pursue an MFA in acting at Brown University. Unsure of the extent to which the program will prepare him for dealing with the business of being an actor, Polec expressed his gratitude for all he has learned at UR about the arts industry. “Learning the process of how to get gigs, how to fund recording and album and all the nit-picky stuff in between has showed me that business managers are really important.  And agents.  No matter who you are as an artist, you better know the business, or you better have a friend who knows that business cold.”

Having had a good deal of experience learning the nitty-gritty about show business as a Key Scholar, Polec is eager to start learning the artist trade this fall. The undisputed star of URITP, he’ll be entering into a group of peers that will undoubtedly be made up of 15 other college theatre program stars. “It’s good to be with a bunch of talented people, because then you can see how you are able to improve and grow,” he said.

“Andrew is a born performer and he’s also a wonderful singer.  I’ve watched him grow over the years as his range has expanded,” said Nigel Maister, artistic director of URITP, who has been working with Polec since his freshman year. “I think that an MFA program will be able to hone—on a technical level—his skills as a general performer and deepen his understanding of the process and needs of acting and character development.”

Polec’s undergraduate acting career has come full circle in the past few months.  He performed in URITP’s first musical production, Hello Again, his freshman year and he ends his tenure here starring in its second. He leads a focused ensemble of remarkably mature and talented performers in what is a visually alarming, intellectually challenging, and genuinely entertaining production.  Maister said of Polec’s performance as Mr. Zero in Adding Machine, “[He] shows a more controlled and dramatically focused side of his abilities.”

Polec said that the role has “been a great final note to go out on” as he looks forward to working towards his dream of performing on Broadway.  The future of this soon-to-be-UR-graduate, it would seem, promises to “add up” to quite a lot.

Article written by Leah Barish ’12, a public relations intern with the International Theatre Program and a member of theater troupe, The Opposite of People.

In The Photos: Jacob Goritski ’14 (back) and Andrew Polec appear in Adding Machine: The Musical. Photos courtesy of J. Adam Fenster, University Photographer.

Midnight Ramblers Star in New Admissions Rap Video

Univ. Communications – The latest video created by the University of Rochester’s Admissions Office gives prospective students facts and figures about the University with a hip hop twist.

In the video, released on Wednesday, March 7, popular all-male campus a cappella group, the Midnight Ramblers, rap in more than 20 locations, including the iconic Rush Rhees Library, I.M. Pei-designed Wilson Commons, and Rochester’s underground subway tunnel. The video’s chorus promises “one hundred percent reason you remember our name.”

“We wanted high school students to see the many options available,” said Satyajit Dattagupta, director of enrollment communications, who initiated the concept. “The music video captures the energy, enthusiasm, and creativity here.”

Admissions counselor Michael Shea ’09, ’11W (MS) lent his talents as an amateur lyricist, drawing on his own experiences in Rochester courses including History of Jazz, taught by senior presidential advisor and University Dean Paul Burgett, and an address from energy secretary and Nobel physics laureate Steven Chu ’70. Incorporating Rochester’s flexibility for students to build their own curriculum and its place on Kaplan’s 2007 “25 New Ivies” list made for an unusual rap challenge.

Along the way, Shea hoped high school students also will catch pop culture references like the Kardashian sisters and unique slices of Rochester life. “If we could have made it even better, we would see Alec Baldwin shopping with his mother,” Shea joked, referencing local ads from regionally-headquartered grocery giant Wegmans.

Shea’s collaborators included in-house videographer Chris Niswonger, who selected showcase University and city locations that would resonate with students. “You can watch it over and over again and learn something new,” Niswonger said. “If someone doesn’t know about the University, they can dig deeper and get a different experience each time.”

Noah Berg ’12, the general manager for the Ramblers, blended Shea’s lyrics with a derivative interpretation of Fort Minor’s Remember the Name. The fast rap at 2:14 shows Aaron Michalko ’14 riffing in real time from an Admissions Office brochure.

“We were reading the facts sheet and it just flowed,” Michalko, a native of Canandaigua, N.Y., explained. “What you hear is nearly verbatim.”

“The video was a way for us to spread our passion for the University musically and explain why it’s awesome to come here,” explained Jared Suresky ’12, a Ramblers soloist. “It adds spice and flare to Rochester. I think Mike and Chris fused that message.”

Added Shea, “We want proud alumni to say, ‘That’s where I went to college.’ ”

Article written by Melissa Greco Lopes, editor of The Buzz and student life publicist in University Communications. Photos courtesy of the Office of Admissions.

YellowJackets Receive Key to Rochester

Univ. Communications – Rochester Mayor Thomas S. Richards recognized the University of Rochester YellowJackets for their contributions to the city during a ceremony at 1 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 9, in Hirst Lounge in Wilson Commons on the University’s River Campus. As part of the ceremony, Richards presented the members of the YellowJackets, the University’s oldest male a cappella group, with a key to the city of Rochester.

VIDEO: YellowJackets Recieve Key to City, Perform with World of Inquiry School

“The YellowJackets have spent countless hours working with youth here in our city and have taken their mission across the world to Kenya,” said Richards, who also is a University Trustee. “We are proud that they are making lives more fulfilling through their commitment to music and education. That’s why it is an honor to present the University of Rochester YellowJackets with a key to our city.”

For Pittsford native Aaron Sperber ’11, who has been a member of the YellowJackets for five years, receiving a key to Rochester is an unparalleled honor.

“We have had the privilege of traveling far and wide to share our music and our message, and while being on national television was an honor that we only dreamed of, nothing is quite like home,” said Sperber, an international relations major in the College and a vocal performance major at the Eastman School of Music. “As proud Rochesterians, we found that more exciting than the glamour of Hollywood is the knowledge that we are representing all the people who have supported us and made us who we are.”

Jamal Moore ’11, also a voice performance major at Eastman and a four-year member of the YellowJackets, agreed.

“Being given a key to the city is an amazing honor that few people receive,” Moore, a native of Augusta, Ga., explained. “I am so grateful that we were selected as the latest recipients of it.”

The YellowJackets, who recently competed on NBC’s hit reality television show The Sing-Off, have a history of community service in the city. Over the last decade, they have performed concerts and hosted workshops throughout the Rochester City School District.

In 2009, the group organized the Harmony for Hope concert in honor of one of its members, Alexander Hunter, who was undergoing treatment for lymphoma. Through a benefit concert, the YellowJackets raised funds for the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center.

This past summer, the group traveled to Maseno, Kenya, on a goodwill tour and musical exchange. The group spent three weeks in the African village, where they conducted workshops in the village schools, learned traditional native songs from local children, and taught students popular songs from the United States. Additionally, the group participated in community outreach, working with victims of AIDS through the nonprofit organization Joining Hearts and Hands. For the group, the trip underscored the importance of music programs in schools as a way of providing students with a fun, creative way to engage in learning, said Sperber.

This fall, the YellowJackets took that message to heart and teamed up with the Rochester City School District to create an extra-curricular a cappella group at the World of Inquiry School. Nearly 100 students at the school spend two hours every Thursday with the YellowJackets, learning a cappella arrangements and vocal performance tips. The group, called ROC-appella, will join the YellowJackets on stage at two sold-out concerts on Dec. 11. See a video about the partnership here.

Article written by Melissa Greco Lopes, editor of The Buzz and student life publicist in University Communications. Photos courtesy of University Communications.

Update: YellowJackets Advance to Top 8 on The Sing-Off

Univ. Communications – The YellowJackets are moving on! On Monday, Oct. 17, the group advanced to the top eight in NBC’s a cappella competition show with their highly entertaining performance of “Wannabe” by the Spice Girls. Watch the full episode here.

The next episode airs on Monday, Oct. 24, at 8 p.m. EST.

VOTE FOR THE ‘JACKETS: Make the YellowJackets your #1 pick this week.

For more updates, visit http://www.rochester.edu/news/singoff/.

YellowJackets Compete on “The Sing-Off”

Univ. Communication – No pianos. No drums. No guitars. This fall, with just their voices, 15 undergraduates from the University of Rochester and Eastman School of Music will recreate some of today’s most popular songs as they perform on NBC’s “The Sing-Off.”

The YellowJackets, the University’s oldest male a cappella group, will compete against 15 of the country’s best groups, working to win over celebrity judges Ben Folds (Ben Folds Five), Shawn Stockman (Boyz II Men) and solo artist Sara Bareilles, while vying for the ultimate prize – a Sony Music recording contract and a $200,000 cash prize.

The series premiere is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 19 at 8 p.m. on NBC. Watch extended sneak previews for the show here and here. Tune in to see if the YellowJackets advance through the multi-episode series.

Be a part of the “Sea of Yellow” Sing-Off Campus Watch Party

Members of the community are invited to come out and rally behind the YellowJackets at a free, campus-wide Sing-Off Watch Party on Monday, Sept. 19, in Hoyt Auditorium on the River Campus. Doors open at 7 p.m. Members of the YellowJackets will perform a selection of songs from their repertoire prior to the start of the pre-taped premiere, and will take questions from the audience during commercial breaks. The evening also includes a free t-shirt give away, and in an effort to create a “Sea of Yellow,” audience members are asked to wear yellow t-shirts.

Connect with the Jackets through Social Media

Connect with members of the YellowJackets on Twitter @ URYellowJackets and on Facebook, or follow updates from the series premiere at the University’s official twitter account @UofR. Connect with the show on its official handle @thesingoff or use the hash tag #thesingoff.

(Photo Courtesy of NBC Universal.)

VIDEO: Midnight Ramblers Serenade on ‘The Price Is Right’!

Univ. Communications – Watch Aaron Michalko ’14 as he tries to guess if The Price Is Right on WROC-TV (Channel 8). The show, which aired on Friday, April 8 featured Michalko and his fellow Midnight Ramblers. The group was visiting the set during their spring break tour in Los Angeles. Michalko was selected to “come on down” and be a contestant on the show. Watch here