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The Music Men

A night spent with SU's premiere all-male a cappella group shows the bond between the gents.

It’s nearly 10 p.m. on a Monday night, but this group of Syracuse University men is just getting started. They greet one another with handshakes, hugs and jokes. The sound of voices isn't dampened by the piles of heavy winter coats scattered around the room. But instead of gathering around a keg like some other students, these young men gather around the grand piano in the corner of the room. As the chatter quiets down, a harmonious melody of nonsense fills the room.

Photo: Sunnivie Brydum
Senior Mike Debach auditions for a solo in Orange Appeal

“Busy, busy, busy bee,” they sing.

“It’s beezee bee, not busy bee,” directs Nathan Meredith, standing at the piano’s keys and plunking out notes which the group matches, now enunciating the "E" in “beezeebee.”

So begins an evening with Orange Appeal, SU’s only all-male a capella group.

Orange Appeal is made up of 15 members, from different years, academic majors, and vocal ranges. The men meet twice a week for at least two hours, to practice for upcoming shows and a new CD they will be recording this semester.

Tonight, in addition to rehearsing, they will be assigning solos for new songs in their performance repertoire.

Each member interested in singing a solo part sings a selection of the song – tonight, it's 16 bars of “You Found Me,” by The Fray. Eight members are auditioning for the solo, and nerves are running high. After listening to each contender sing, the remaining members of the group deliberate and make a decision.

“They usually go for whoever sounds most like the original [recording],” explains senior Mike Debach, who hopes to win his first solo tonight.

After all the auditions have been completed, the men gather again around the piano and run through the song with the new soloist.

Around midnight, the rehearsal wraps up, although some members linger to sing other songs or chat. Meredith, the musical director, confirms that everyone will be able to attend the next rehearsal and sits back down at the piano. Hugs, handshakes and humor abound as each man goes his separate way into the cold winter air, leaving the room quiet, but still buzzing with the energy of the spirited group.

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