​Collegiate A Capella Invitational

Rome Free Academy’s Rhapsody Show Choir will be hosting their Collegiate A Cappella Invitational on Saturday February 4 at 7:30pm in the RFA Auditorium.  Five college groups will be performing, along with RFA’s show choir Rhapsody and a special guest appearance from the Whitesboro high school Chamber Choir.  Tickets are $5, and can be purchased at the door or in advance at the Jervis Public Library or from members of Rhapsody. 

The five college groups coming to participate and compete are the Skidmore Bandersnatchers, Duly Noted from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Stay Tuned from SUNY Potsdam, and two groups from Syracuse University: the Mandarins and Otto Tunes.  Most of these groups have appeared in previous Collegiate Invitationals at RFA, and Rhapsody director Jake Meiss says he “can’t wait to see and hear them again – they all put on a great show!”

Two of the college groups feature recent RFA alumni.  Ethan Vernold (class of 2021) is a member of SU’s Otto Tunes, and Giovanna Sudol (class of 2020) is a member of Stay Tuned.  Both Vernold and Sudol were members of Rhapsody, Select Choir, and many other musical ensembles at RFA.  Meiss says he “couldn’t be happier” to have the alumni return.  “When we started the Collegiate Invitational this was always one of the goals – that RFA students would graduate, stay involved with music, and bring their college groups back to perform.” 

Sudol is not only a member of Stay Tuned, but also the club’s president.  Sudol says she is “so excited to be coming back to RFA for this performance!”  She goes on to say that the Collegiate Invitational was “always my favorite show we put on while I was in Rhapsody, so it really means the world to me that we are able to come and be a part of this!”

Adding another layer to the RFA music legacy, Stay Tuned was actually founded by two members of the RFA Class of 2011 – Tiffany Smalls and Emmy Eichhorn.  Smalls said they founded the group in October 2012, out of “several people in our friend group,” and that since then, “the group has grown, but still remains a weird little musical family.”  Other RFA alumni who have performed with Stay Tuned include Aaron Hernandez (class of 2013) and Kevin Utter (class of 2014).  Stay Tuned also has the distinction of being one of the groups to perform at RFA’s very first Collegiate Invitational in 2014.

The Skidmore Bandersnatchers are Skidmore's best, oldest, and only all-male a cappella group, and an entirely student-run organization.  Formed in 1975 as a men's underground bootlegging poetry group, and getting its name from the Lewis Carol poem 'The Jabberwocky', the group has since devolved into singing without women or instruments.  The group has produced numerous recordings and is well known on campus, at your local Denny's, and far beyond for its lively performances. Their diverse repertoire ranges from contemporary pop tunes, jazz standards, ‘60’s standards, ‘70’s funk, traditional folk songs, and of course the Skidmore Alma Mater.  

Otto Tunes and the Mandarins both come from Syracuse University, and they make for a nice pairing – Otto Tunes are all male, and the Mandarins are all female.  The Mandarins were founded in 1996 as an offshoot of the SU Women’s Choir, and Otto Tunes were formed in 2011.

Rhapsody is thrilled to be welcoming their Whitesboro Chamber Choir friends to this performance as well.  Whitesboro had planned to participate in the Central New York Show Choir Festival two weeks ago, but weren’t able to come due to a district snow day.  Meiss says he is “so glad they were able to make last minute plans to join us for this show.”  The Whitesboro “Bluebirds” Chamber Choir is under the direction of Ms. Sarah DePalma.

Rome Free Academy Rhapsody was founded by Jake Meiss in 2010.  Rhapsody has become a tradition at RFA, performing locally as well as up and down the East Coast and Canada. As usual, Rhapsody will be performing mash-ups: combinations of songs with similar themes. According to Meiss, the Rhapsody members are still “flying high from their performance at the Central New York Show Choir Festival, and excited to perform the show again!” 

There are 34 vocalists in Rhapsody this year: Teddy Beeman, Alex Brown, Liam Butler, Wyatt Conley, Jake Cosentino, Noah Dailey, Kaz Evans, Evan Lewthwaite, Cameron Merritt, Dakota Morrison, Nolan Moore, Elijah Pomales, Enrique Rivera, Colyn Seeley, Chris Smalls, Jonathan Spaeth, Michaelanne Allen, Trinity Brindeau, Gwendolyn Caro, Lilianna Caro, Capricia Damiano, Alana DeJosie, Kyla Finneman, Janai Haden, Caitlyn Hampe, Sydney LaSalle, Robin Litts, Julianna Nasto, Isabella Posselt, Kaleigh Premo, Brooke Quinn, Grace Riolo, Amelia Sudol, and Karabrie Wiggins. They are accompanied by instrumentalists Dennis van Hoesel on piano, Brandon Bright on drums, Jack Conley on trumpet, Sara Swistak on trombone, and alumnus Evan Griffith on saxophone. Jake Meiss is the music arranger and choreographer of Rhapsody, Gail Tucker is the costumer, and Kristen Meiss, Kaila Hoskins, and Kerri Winkler are production managers.