Introducing the BOSS 2015 Host Group: Tufts Amalgamates

AmalgamatesThe Amalgamates. You may know them as the oldest co-ed a cappella group at Tufts University. You may know them as the group that famously rejected Jessica Biel (it was 2002 and she couldn’t blend; ah, hindsight). Or, you may not know them at all because apparently no one seems to be able to pronounce their name right. In my time in the ‘Mates, we were mis-announced and mis-named as a myriad of non-words and bizarre portmanteaus. My personal favorites include, with capitalization for pronunciation emphasis where required:

  • “Ah-mull-GAH-mitts” (think “Narragansett” in the thickest Noath Shoah accent you can muster)
  • “uh-MALL-guh-muts” (because “aw” seemed to be the only vowel he could use)
  • “Ammill-GAY-meets” (yes, this was real)

    And everyone’s favorite:

  • “Animal Gametes” (no, really, someone said that)

More important than all of these horrible examples of lexical butchery is the fact that the Amalgamates are finally not only coming to BOSS, but they’re hosting it. That’s a serious commitment, and I’m both thankful for it and really excited and proud of them making their big entrance into a cappella festivals. Fun fact – the group turned 30 years old this year, and had never once in its three-decade-long history attended an a cappella festival. Crazy, I know.

BUT THEY’RE HERE NOW, and I can’t wait for all of you to meet them in their current, thankfully smaller than when I graduated (we were 19 and basically were incapable of singing anything other than “loud”) form. They’re a great bunch, and they’ll take care of you, I promise.

 

Alex GreenAlex Green is a graduate of Tufts University with a dual degree in Music and Archaeology, where he was a member of the Tufts Amalgamates for all 4 years of his college career, and served as Music Director for the 2009 calendar year. His various odd jobs and experiences in the audio world include various internships at companies in the music industry including Rounder Records (Burlington, MA) and Alta Vista Studios (Austin, TX), participation in the sporadically annual Soup 2 Nuts Seminar with Deke Sharon and Bill Hare, and acting as a reviewer for the Recorded A cappella Review Board (RARB). In addition to the Amalgamates, Alex has sung with both Overboard and the short lived and perpetually-under-the-radar Cursory. He is currently working with CASA on the BOSton Sings [BOSS] festival team and is a regular workshop leader and CASA masterclinician. As a co-owner of Plaid Productions along with Alexander Koutzoukis, he has had the opportunity to work with groups from across the country and around the world, and made countless soups. Since early 2011, clients of Plaid Productions have had songs featured on SING, BOCA, Voices Only, and have garnered over 50 CARA nominations.

The Boston A Cappella Scene

Diana Galeano, Shams Ahmed, Avi Kaplan, Ben Bram, Tracy RobertsonI moved to Boston for the a cappella scene after attending the first ever BOSS. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s the first thing I noticed when I got off the plane: a flashmob of 66 people broke out into Augustana’s “Boston”. Or was it Boston’s “More Than A Feeling”? But really, Boston welcomed me and my love of a cappella with open arms (that’s Journey, right? I mean, I was Journey-ing so, ok…)

I’m constantly in awe of what this city has to offer. Not only is it absolutely stunning, once the mounds of snow that predate the birth of Christ have melted, the history embedded in the once-upon-a-time cow paths will eventually intertwine so you’ll find yourself at the intersection of A Cappella Street and Abundance Way.

Never have I encountered more collegiate a cappella groups in a 5 mile radius, let alone a single college. I live right next to Tufts University, the very campus we’ll be inhabiting come BOSS weekend. At about 11,000 enrolled (almost equally split between undergrad/grad), Tufts has 8 a cappella groups on campus.

Just a few miles down the long and winding road in Waltham is Brandeis with 10. Down the street in Cambridge is a little known college, Harvard University (you may have heard of it) which has 20 and MIT has 6, according to my research. Folks, I’m not even into Boston yet. Boston University has 12, Emerson has 4, Boston College and Northeastern University each have 8, just to name a few.

Boston is also the home to many professional and semi-pro/CAL groups! Pro groups such as Ball In The House, Five O’Clock Shadow, Musae, and Overboard have all called Boston home. Semi-pro/CAL groups such as Bostonality, Sound Off, The Pow Arrangers, Redline, Fermata Town and Collective Measures are sure to be found busking at the Public Garden or gigging around town weekly if not more.

Did we talk about high school a cappella yet? Last year, we had our very first high school group open for the BOSS collegiate competition. Falconize from Danvers High School was only 7 months old and they opened BOSS 2014. Cambridge Ringe and Latin School has 4 groups on its campus, not to mention groups that are constantly popping up in high school campuses by student volition. These kids know where it’s at.

Boston is exploding with a cappella. EX.PLO.DING. Remember when I told you Boston A Cappella welcomed me with open arms? That’s an understatement. I arrange/direct for a co-ed collegiate group, sing with/arrange for a semi-pro CAL group, and teach/arrange 4th-9th grade a cappella on the weekends.

If you’re looking for a way to connect in the Boston A Cappella scene, your best bet is to get your cute little tuchus over to BOSS April 10-12. It’ll revolutionize your aca-life. 🙂

 

Diana Galeano, the BOSS 2015 Outreach and AcaBomb Coordinator, is a graduate of Florida State University where she studied music education with an emphasis in secondary choral education. While at FSU, she sang with ICCA Southern Champions, the AcaBelles. Since graduating, she has worked as a high school chorus teacher, as a director at FSU’s Summer Music Camps, and as Assistant Director of A Cappella Academy in Los Angeles, CA. Diana now lives in Somerville, MA where she directs and arranges for collegiate and high school a cappella groups, sings with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and Sound Off A Cappella, as well as teaches K-8 music.

VXN Beginnings

Meron MogosThroughout my a cappella career, I’ve been in 3 groups. One at Duke University followed by two post-collegiate CAL groups (one in NY and one that I founded in Los Angeles). I obviously love a cappella and enjoy being part of the community, so being in groups like these are fun and an exciting hobby. But for me, in my soul, VXN is the culmination of the years I’ve been inspired by a cappella and what I’ve been striving for. It’s a group that formed so organically and out of true passion….a passion for music, for female power, and for singing with those who you love and know so well.

Anna, Holli, Lauren, Jessie and I all met in NY after college when we found ourselves gravitating back towards a cappella. As members of Empire, we realized that a cappella was still relevant in our lives and could exist in a meaningful way after college. It was an amazing moment to share with each other because it re-affirmed our love for the genre and our presence in this musical world. Eventually, Holli moved to DC and I moved to LA, and over a year passed where we weren’t singing together. But during an inspiring weekend at LAAF 2014, the idea of VXN was born and we knew this 5-person vocal project could not only happen, but needed to happen.

Everything moved pretty quickly over the next few months as we fleshed out our vision to produce innovative and inspiring music at the highest level. VXN met for our first group retreat in June 2014 and solidified our fresh, fierce, and fearless sound, and the rest is history. We meet every few months to learn and record new music to keep a constant flow of new content for audiences. We had our public debut this March in NYC and we’re now recording our first EP which we’ll be releasing later this year. VXN is ecstatic to be making our CASA debut at BOSS in front of one of the most enthusiastic a cappella communities in the country and I could not be more proud. If I could tell my 18-year old freshman self, just minutes before auditioning for Duke’s Lady Blue at a time when I knew nothing about a cappella, that ten years later I’d be performing in a professional group at a major CASA festival, there would be some heavy eye-rolling happening right about now. But here we are. And I’m psyched.

Originally from the suburbs of NYC, Meron Mogos got her start in a cappella in 2004 with Duke University’s Lady Blue. Her solo/arrangement of Ciara’s “Like A Boy” was featured on Voices Only 2009. Meron joined NYC CAL group, Empire in 2011 and after moving to Los Angeles to pursue her love of film/television in 2012, she co-founded the all-female CAL group, Premiere and serves as their President. Meron is also 1/5 of the professional vocal group, VXN.