Chorallaries 30th Anniversary Concert
Friday, May 4, 2007
Lots of things have recently turned 30: Shakira, Orlando Bloom, Pamela Anderson’s breasts, and, of course, the MIT Chorallaries.
Throughout their two-hour set last Friday, the MIT Chorallaries drop-kicked an eclectic mix of old and new pop music into the waiting ears of a packed crowd in 10-250. They were joined by two groups of alumni, including members of the original group as well as more recent members. All in all, the Chorallaries delivered a series of very impressive performances to usher in their next 30 years as an a cappella group.
The Chorallaries started off their 30th birthday concert with “Rainbow Connection,” which despite its title is neither the jingle for a Skittles commercial nor the theme song for a PBS special on diversity, but a catchy “Sesame Street” song. Yelena S. Bagdasarova ’10 belted out an excellent performance, doing justice to Kermit the Frog’s musical oeuvre while expanding on the muppet’s somewhat limited vocal range. The rest of the Chorallaries’ set ventured through a series of entertaining pop songs, such as “Mambo No. 5,” “Candyman,” and that Journey song that was in every 80’s teen movie (“Don’t Stop Believing”). While the current Chorallaries did a solid job with the first few songs that they sang, some of their performances in the middle of the set fell a bit short and failed to truly stand out from one another and demand individual attention. Given the smaller selection of songs that they performed, the alumni were able to make their individual performances a bit more memorable. As I was unable to listen to the radio as a fetus, I’m not quite sure which songs they sang — aside from my personal theme song, “It’s Raining Men” — but they delivered a strong showing of good, fun tunes.
Towards the end of the set, the group took a few moments to say goodbye to their graduating seniors. Zachary J. Watts ’07, Benjamin M. Schwartz ’06, and Holly R. Johnson ’07 all received gifts from the current members, and delivered solid performances of their first solos with the group. Immediately following, the former Chorallaries launched straight into performances of “Africa” (Toto) and the unofficial MIT theme song, “Engineers’ Drinking Song.” The much-requested “Africa,” aside from being a great song in its own right, was made even better by the group’s excellent harmonies and faux bird calls. While a room full of people imitating wild animal calls is usually a clear sign to run like hell and head for shelter, the Chorallaries alums did a great job with the song and the synthesized savannah noises.
It was the “Engineers’ Drinking Song,” however, that was the highlight of the night. Performed by all of the current and former Chorallaries, including the founders of the group, this tour-de-force transformed MIT’s simple theme/drinking song into a massive ode to the school, encompassing all of the pride and bitterness that the Institute inspires. “Engineers’” meandered through a number of styles and verses, brilliantly incorporating elements of fugal counterpoint, classical hymns, and specially written verses to create a veritable masterpiece. With such additional lyrics as “and they shall tool forever and ever” (sung in multi-part harmony to the tune of the Hallelujah chorus) and verses comparing MIT to hell, “Engineers’” was funny, musically stunning, and wholly entertaining.
And of course, following the concert the Chorallaries provided a massive orgy of cake, in the form of a 5-by-5 foot dessert item that could have fed a small village for a week. And nothing that ends with free cake is ever anything but awesome.