During the same weekend on Aug 21, the group gave a performance at the Berkshire Theatre Festival on the Fitzpatrick Stage. The following is Tom Bulleit ’79
‘s review of that concert.
“On Sunday, August 21, 2011, the Berkshire Music Festival in Stockbridge, MA hosted the first concert of the 2011-2012 year for the Duke’s Men of Yale (self-described as “the youngest and best-looking of Yale’s male a cappella singing groups”). It was a triumph.
Fresh from only two days’ rehearsal at their retreat at the Great Barrington, MA, home of Co-Business Manager Alex Caron ’13‘s parents, da doox dazzled an audience of young, old, and some distinguished alumni at an afternoon concert. Sophomore pitchpipe Benji Goldsmith ’14 stepped up like a pro, offering a program that mixed admirably newer and older repertory to produce a seamlessly enjoyable performance.
The group opened with Ben Wexler’s ’11 newish arrangement of “Party in the USA”, featuring rising sophomores Terrence Chin-Loy ’14 and Alex Ratner ’14 on the solos. Terrence sings first tenor but has a strong baritone as well, showcasing the latter on this song and the former on Eric Schorr ‘82’sclassic arrangement of “Gonna Build a Mountain.” Alex returned us to the 1970s with his lithe performance of the Jackson 5 standard, “I Want You Back.”
Another sophomore who gave strong performances of both old (James Taylor’s “Carolina in My Mind”) and new (Chaka Khan’s “Through the Fire”) was Nimal Eames-Scott ’14 .
I was also pleased that the group has also reprised Dan Korn ‘89’s arrangement of “Motherless Child,” originally and memorably sung by the late Tony Bailey ’90, and ably rendered on this occasion by Alex Caron.
Jim Chu ’72’s arrangement of the Rock & Roll spoof “What’s Your Name?” was sung to the mother ofBrandon Hayse ’14, by Rueben Hendler ’13 (younger brother of former pitchpipe Micah Hendler ’11) and Henry Gottfried ’13, who smoothly handled the master of ceremonies duties for the concert (and author of that bit of impish narcissism that opened the concert).
Songs from the second Golden Age (the 1990s) have never been better sung. Two Landsverk ’99/Sagalowicz ’98 classics – “Obvious Child” and “What a Good Boy” — improved everyone’s afternoon. Sam Tsui ’11 is a hard act to follow, but Henry gave a moving rendition of Good Boy.
For those who thought that the Nathan Reiff ’07 arrangement of “Either Way” would have to be retired when Casey Breves ’09 left the group for the Whiffenpoofs of 2009 and later for San Francisco’s famed professional a cappella ensemble Chanticleer, Brandon proved that the song still has life, as he performed a moving version, accompanied by Nate Janis ’13 on the duet. Hayse’s sweet tenor also did justice to Adam Grupper ’84’s arrangement of “Wonderful World.”
The alums (and I hope the audience) were pleased that songs from the Founders’ era were still represented, as Gottfried (this guy has a lot of solos, doesn’t he?) performed Lou Hemingway ’42’s“You Are Too Beautiful,” and the guys continued the tradition of inviting alums to join them on Walt Farrier ’54’s immortal “Istanbul.”
Alums in attendance included former pitchpipes Augustus ‘Fritz’ Kinzel ’58, Carl Kaestle ’62, andyours truly. Alums will remember that Kinzel and Kaestle are two of the most important figures in da doox illustrious history. Fritz arranged, among others, “Lulu’s Back in Town,” “Brother Can You Spare a Dime?,” and “Lone Prairie” (with Jeff Freeman ’57); Kaestle the ballad “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning,” along with two humor standards from the ‘60s rep, the Kennedy homage “New Frontier” and Flanders and Swanns’ “Wom Pom Song.” These two were also the first two Duke’s Men to be elected to pitch the Whiffenpoofs. Also joining the group on stage was a refreshing representative from the lost generation (late ‘60s to early ‘70s), Jim Rossbach ’68.
Privately, the alums repeated the well-known refrain acknowledging that they probably wouldn’t even have been invited to join the group had they been lucky enough to survive admission to Yale these days.
I also bought the latest CD, The Chase, which my daughter and I listened to on the drive home. Following in the recent tradition of flawlessly sung and produced recordings, this one will please anyone with an appreciation for the genre. Especially notable is revival of Yoshi Waterhouse ’95’sarrangement of Tears for Fears’ “I Believe,” and an excellent recording of Sam Tsui’s version of “What a Good Boy.” The Chase can be purchased by emailing Brandon Hayse, firstname.lastname@example.org, via iTunes, or at the doox website (http://dukesmen.com).
And this was before they tapped those six new voices. Looks like another spectacular year, which I for one plan to follow closely.”
–Tom Bulleit ’79