You Want CARA Perks? We Got ‘Em. Also: Percs

BOSS 2012

by Sara Yood

You’ve got your All-Access Pass. You’ve reserved your bus/plane tickets to Boston.  Maybe you’ve even started side-eyeing the dress you want to rock on Friday.  Or maybe you’ve been waiting to purchase and you’re wondering what all these options are. Why would I pay more and what does it get me?  Get all of the information here for our CARA events at BOSS!

CARA Banquet, Friday April 5th, 3pm-5pm, $35 add-on
Where it is:
– Church of Boston, 69 Kilmarnock Street – a swanky music club in the Fenway neighborhood of Boston
What it includes:
– Live presentation of EVERY CARA that won’t be given out during Friday night’s Collegiate Competition
– Hear from the a cappella community’s greatest as they present our most prestigious honors
– Dinner: Chef de Cuisine John Rush will offer a selection of his creative comfort food emphasizing seasonal and local New England cuisine
– cash bar
– CARA Red Carpet access included!

CARA Red Carpet, Friday April 5th, 6pm-7:15pm, $15 add-on
Where it is:
– Blackman Auditorium, Northeastern University
What it includes:
– Walk the red carpet with the CARA nominees and VIP guests!
– Photographers will treat you like royalty as you glide down the red carpet
– Preferred seating with the CARA nominees at the Friday Night Collegiate Competition

CARA Awards Ceremony/Friday Night Collegiate Competition, Friday April 5th, 7:30pm (included in All-Access pass)
Where it is:
– Blackman Auditorium, Northeastern University
What it includes:
– Live presentation of 6 of the most sought-after CARAs!

NOTE: Every group that is nominated can select two members as representatives to get free Red Carpet upgrades. In addition, one member can get entrance to the CARA Banquet, and if they want to send additional people, their Banquet tickets will be $10 off.

The BOSS team is already discussing our sartorial choices for the event.  We can’t wait to see you there in your hottest formal attire.

[photo by Michael Eldredge]

Sara Yood is the BOSS CARA Director

Amy Malkoff Gettin’ List-y: Why Come To BOSS?

Everybody likes a list. Just ask Buzzfeed.  Or Thought Catalog.

Oh sorry, I got distracted by this list of Wes Anderson’s 8 Best Soundtrack Choices*

So I thought for my BOSS blog post, I’d give you a list. Specifically, a list of


1.) BOSS will be held at Northeastern University, home to our fabulous hosts, the Nor’easters. But it’s truly right in the heart of it all in Boston’s Back Bay. It’s one block away from the New England Conservatory, where Deke Sharon, Ed Boyer, and myself did Graduate School Things (20th Century Composition, anyone?)

2.) It’s also close to the Boston Conservatory and the Berklee College of Music. Do the names Hannah Juliano (“The Sing-Off”, Musae, Delilah, Pitch Slapped), Mario Jose (“The Sing-Off”, Pitch Slapped), Lisa Forkish (Divisi, Women’s A Cappella Association) or Wes Carroll (House Jacks, Five O’Clock Shadow) ring a bell… I mean, strike a chord?

3.) Northeastern is also right down the street from 5 Napkin Burger, a Swingle Singers-(and other aca-folks)-approved eatery. Highly recommended!

4.) April in Boston means: it could be snowing (please no), or it could be spring-like and lovely (mmm, maybe). For you gamblers, it’s weather roulette!

5.) You’ll be right near the Prudential Center. Fun fact: the Foursquare mayor of the Pru’s Dunkin Donuts is (BOSS host and member of Five O’Clock Shadow and Overboard) Scott Cobban. Check out this article on him and his iced tea habit (one we share). Head over there and tell ‘em (their) mayor sent ya!

6.) You won’t have to go to Cheers to be somewhere where “everybody knows your name” because we’re one aca-big family, but if you want to do that uber-touristy thing (which I encourage), it’s here. Oh, and here.

7.) Did you forget your red carpet gown/tux, or are you a local looking for the same? Nearby Newbury Street and environs boasts everything from H&M to Armani. Guys with $1400 burning a hole in their pockets, I suggest this one. Hot.

8.) BOSS 2013 features (among others) Danish group Postyr Project, a new-ish group doing groundbreaking things with electronics, as well as Five O’Clock Shadow, a Boston group founded in 1991, who were some of the earliest adopters of live effects. Now that’s pretty cool. Don’t you want to see that??

9.) You’ll also be right in the vicinity of the beautiful Christian Science compound, home to the famous Mapparium. The Mapparium, because of its spherical glass surface, boasts some unique acoustical effects. I’ve always wondered what it would sound like if a group sang in there….hmmm…

Excited yet? Go get your tickets, and we’ll see you there!

*unapologetic Wes Anderson movie and soundtrack fan

[Thanks to Mal Zuckerman for her animated gif search!]

Amy Malkoff is the Web Content Director at CASA, is on the BOSS production team, and does other music-type things.

Amanda Aldag: Be Revolutionary

CASA Events. Indescribable… Indestructible! Nothing Can Stop It!

If you’ve been paying attention, the events program for the CASA has exploded over the past 2 years, now offering 5 full weekend events – Los Angeles A Cappella Festival. VoCAL Nation. SoJam. ACappellaFest. BOSS. Then we went and added a brand new one-day festival, the Texas A Cappella Celebration in San Antonio this March. Are you in a cappella overload yet? I sure hope not.

Because we’re just not done yet.

CASA’s not just adding more weekends to the schedule – we’re packing more into each weekend. BOSS is no exception.

For our regular festival goers, you’ve come to expect the best from our festivals…

Life-changing scholastic competitions. World-class seminars. Jaw-dropping headliners. Epic afterparties.

BOSS 2013 will bring you all of this – and more. In one weekend, we’ll have you dressed to the nines for the CARA Red Carpet and Awards Ceremony, reaching into the depths of your soul during your group’s masterclass, rubbing elbows with some of the most legendary people in the a cappella world and learning what’s next for the art form.

If you’re new to CASA, the only thing I can say to you is: prepare to be blown away.

A Cappella enthusiasts, fans, hobbyists, and professionals should expect something new. You won’t walk away simply having enjoyed a nice weekend. Instead you’ll be armed and ready to cut your own path and claim new ground. BOSS is all about the revolution.

22 years ago The House Jacks made an indelible mark on contemporary a cappella. Rock music. With just their mouths. WHAT?! In 1991 that was simply crazy talk.  But this community is built on pioneers and revolutionaries and The House Jacks are still leading the charge. Once you’ve experienced them live during the CARA Awards, you might just believe that they are immortal.

Flash-forward to 2013 and the a cappella community is being exposed to numerous groups who are mixing voices with technology to create a whole new sound. Coming all the way from Denmark, POSTYR Project is at the forefront of the technology movement. You are going to hear things you’ve never imagined. Not in your wildest dreams.

photo courtesy Michael Eldredge

So go ahead. Clear out your other plans for April 5-7, book your plane, train or automobile. Perhaps even get a check up with your doctor to ensure you don’t have a heart condition.

Be prepared to be absorbed.

Amanda Aldag, CASA’s Director of Festivals and Events, was born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Amanda started her a cappella career as musical director of Special K at Hamilton College. After graduation she moved to rural Japan for 4 years where she founded, trained and performed with an international a cappella group called the Amigos. Since moving the the DC area in 2005, Amanda founded and performs with Euphonism (CAL) and Snowday, a group that primarily provides a cappella educational programs in the Mid-Atlantic. She is the managing partner of Clear Harmonies Productions, has served as a CARA nominator and judge since 2009 and written numerous arrangements for groups around the world. @acaldag

Shams Ahmed: A festival? Like with clowns?

This time last year I was flying back to Boston from my social development stint in Bangladesh. Mulling over set ideas, choreography, a possible costume change, and arrangements during the trip, I was obsessed with a cappella and my group’s success. Upon arriving in Boston, The Nor’easters and I were knee-deep in preparations for what would be our most competitive ICCA season yet. Unified in our goal to excel in the tournament, we did not let anything get in our way.

Shams w/Kari Francis and Diana Galeano
Shams w/Kari Francis and Diana Galeano

Some friends in the a cappella community mentioned a possible a cappella festival in Boston during the fall semester. A cappella festival. At first I thought “carnival”. Like a cappella clowns and balloon animals of Peter Hollens. No, too weird.  Then, I thought “festival of lights”. Like a totally non-denominational celebration of a cappella that took place around a huge campfire with candle ceremonies. No, too spiritual. Not really knowing (or caring) what that meant at the time, I glossed over it – “cool. ICCAICCAICCAICCAICCAICCAICCAICCA.”

Get what I mean?

As the fall semester progressed, so did we. With a quarterfinal championship under our belt and a new song to bring to the semifinals stage, it was time to really bring out the big guns. We rehearsed pretty much daily to perfect choreography, dynamics, vowels, emotions, faces; you name it, we did it.

During a recording session, Alex Green mentioned that submitting a video for BOSS might be a good idea for our group. “What’s BOSS?”, I asked. “Boston Sings, an a cappella festival”, he replied.

Festival. Okay, let’s actually think about this now. I had only really heard of SoJam, which at that point was a nebulous rodeo show in the south that our friends in Pitch Slapped had won earlier in the school year. While I do love a good rodeo, I had my reservations about taking our focus off ICCAs to record a submission video. After talking it over with the group, we came to the decision that this might be a fun, possibly worthwhile experience. With a video recorded and tickets purchased, we waited to see what the outcome of the collegiate competition would be. But not for long, because we had to go to rehearsal for ICCAs.

And so ICCA preparations progressed: our sound was slick, our belting was high, and our bass was booming. The sheer number of hours we clocked in was impressive. We spent so much time with each other that the only thing we really knew about a cappella was ourselves.

By attending and competing in BOSS, we opened up a world of connections that we had not previously known existed. Meeting other groups and people who care about what we do was priceless. Don’t get me wrong – I love to compete. I love spending countless hours with my group honing our art. I also love knowing and talking to like-minded people. BOSS provided me with a venue to meet numerous people like me. It was just as comforting as it was surreal to find out that other people in the world were just as obsessed with a cappella as I was. The competition kicked off the weekend, and was naturally a huge component for us at the outset, but by the end of the festival, other very important moments overshadowed it. The moment when I finally shook off the importance of the competition was the pinnacle of my experience. No longer did I feel isolated by exclusively focusing on my own group, spending hours prepping for competition. I appreciated the aca-bombs and the workshops and the people that ran them. It allowed me to see the work of the community in motion. I met the engineers that produced albums, their clients, and gained insight into their relationships. I met with people who made arranging music their full-time job and people who wanted to bring contemporary a cappella to high schools. Watching professional groups perform with the consistency and zeal that I always dreamed to achieve was inspiring. While the value of competition still resounds, I can now say that I truly enjoy watching other groups, because I know how similar we really are.

BOSS had ultimately opened a new side of a cappella that I hadn’t known before.

So as I sit on the plane on my way back from Bangladesh this year, I will still be obsessively checking arrangements, devising blocking, and pondering costume changes. The difference now is that I will be able to appreciate the art form, not the competition.

Shams Ahmed is a 5th year Finance and Chinese student at Northeastern University. He is also the Music Director of The Nor’easters. His involvement with the creative direction of the group started his freshman year and he is proud to have contributed to the group’s success over recent years. Under his direction, the Nor’easters have place 2nd at the 2011 and 2012 ICCA Northeast Semifinals as well as 2nd in the Wildcard Rounds for both years. He has also been presented with numerous Outstanding Arrangement awards since 2010 and led the group to 2nd place at BOSS 2012 and 1st place at SoJamX this past year. His biggest a cappella love is arranging and he is the primary arranger for his group. Additionally, Shams arranges music for other collegiate groups. He is enthralled by the sheer talent surrounding him and will continue being heavily involved in the a cappella world after graduating!

Executive Producer Blog: Alexander Koutzoukis

Welcome to 2013! One of my privileges as Executive Producer of Boston Sings this year is to open the year by also opening our series of (mostly) weekly blog posts where you’ll hear from producers, performers, CARA presenters, and other distinguished individuals connected to BOSS. We’ll cover all manner of topics in both written and video form, from the inner workings of the festival to the minds of the performers and why this festival has (and will continue to) change people for the better. So let’s get to it…

When I initially sat down to write this, I was coming off the high (read: coma) of three days in a row of family Christmas meals. All I could focus on were pizzelle, ham, and baklava (and my new food processor and stand mixer — we like food over here, okay?). So I let it simmer for a bit (more food puns?) and realized that if nothing else got you champing at the bit — not the outstanding headliners from around the country and world, the red carpet, the boundary-pushing live competition, the hands-on classes with an array of instructors you couldn’t get together anyplace but here — then come for the food. Boston loves food. And hey, once you’ve walked the red carpet, you can chow down guilt-free.

But Boston and BOSS aren’t just about the culinary experiences. The mission of the festival is to revolutionize the art form of a cappella from top to bottom. That’s why we have Postyr, who are consistently pushing the boundaries of where voices meet electronics, and the House Jacks, who’ve thrown out the hackneyed cover formula in favor of original music and off-the-cuff audience requests. We’ll have classes on sound (pedals, even!) and stage presence, advertising, traveling, growing, doing things new and better. There are so many groups in the country, and even a growing number of festivals, but now is the time for thinking a little differently.

As you may have seen on Facebook and Twitter, we’ve been talking about joining our New Year’s Revolution. To me, this is all about what you’re going to do to make yourself and your group and by extension everyone you come in contact with better this year. Forget about the status quo, forget about self-imposed limitations, muscle memory, and current trends, and just do something amazing. So whether you’re coming to Boston to share the next big thing or get inspired by it, just get to BOSS. We promise there will be many delicious experiences waiting.