Just seven years after forming, the Midnight Ramblers have been rated as one of the top three a cappella groups in the nation. The all-male ensemble from the University of Rochester won third place in the International Championship of Collegiate a Cappella competition on Saturday, April 30.
As the MidAtlantic regional champions, the Ramblers vied against five other groups in front of a sold-out audience during the finals in Alice Tully Hall of Lincoln Center in New York City. First place was awarded to the Dear Abbeys from Boston University, while Divisi of the University of Oregon took second place. Also competing were groups from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Yale and Indiana Universities.
The Ramblers performed the 12-minute set that had won them the divisional and regional rounds in the competition: a walk through the audience to the stage during the introduction titled “Grind,” followed by the songs “Stuck in the Middle with You,” “When She Loved Me” from the movie Toy Story 2, and “I Believe in a Thing Called Love.”
Buoyed on by a large fan base of friends, family members, students, and University of Rochester alumni, “We were nervous but we were very focused,” noted Dan Israel, the group’s director. “We were the first competitor to perform, but we couldn’t worry about our placement in the program, or how the other groups did; we could only do our best, and when we left the stage we felt we had done our best.”
Coincidentally, Israel noted, the final round of the International Championship of College A Cappella took place exactly seven years to the day of the Ramblers’ very first public concert, a performance in the Welles-Brown Room in Rush Rhees Library on the University’s River Campus.
Since its formation in 1998, the Midnight Ramblers have produced five albums and were chosen for the compilation CD Best of College A Cappella 2001. Currently consisting of 15 members, the Ramblers perform at various University functions and charity events. The group also has traveled to other universities and given workshops in local high schools. The Midnight Ramblers toured southern California during their 2005 spring tour, singing the national anthem at the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers basketball games.
As the academic year closes, the group is heading back into the studio to work on its sixth CD and will be performing both on and off-campus in the week before the University’s May 15 commencement ceremonies. For more information on the Midnight Ramblers, visit the group’s website http://www.sa.rochester.edu/ramblers.