With Bosler Memorial Library’s renovation and expansion project complete, the library is back on track for Music@Bosler — the library’s popular series of free monthly concerts.
These 7 p.m. events are in the brand new community room in the new South Wing on the first Friday of each month and feature local musicians playing a diverse mix of styles.
“We had to put the series on hiatus last fall until construction was complete,” said Cate Mellen, the library’s coordinator of adult programs.
Since resuming this past January, Music@Boster has showcased three local groups; Ajay Shughart & Rhythm on Main, Dead Language Radio and Hay for Three.
On April 5, Music@Bosler will feature the return of Dickinson College’s all-male a cappella ensemble The Octals.
“We had this group a little more than a year ago and have had a lot of requests to bring them back,” Mellen said. “It was one of our highest attended concerts.”
The Octals are so entertaining that it’s no wonder that they command a big crowd. The ensemble has a huge repertoire of songs to suit any audiences’ tastes.
“We can do anything from doo-wop songs and ‘80s rock ballads to ‘90s pop and modern music on the radio,” said Stephen Reale, the group’s musical director.
The Octals are the only all-male a cappella ensemble at Dickinson College. The group is entirely student-run and has 16 members. Most of the singers stick with the group the entire time they are in college.
Prospective members go through an audition process to make sure that they have a strong enough solo voice and the ability to blend with the ensemble. The group also seeks to maintain a balance of voices so that the four parts; baritone, bass, and two tenor ranges are covered.
The ensemble practices once a week, but Reale, who does the arranging, also puts in many long hours over school breaks.
“Before the semester begins, we talk about what songs we want to sing,” he said. “Sometimes it’s songs that someone has heard on the radio like ‘Some Nights’ by Fun. I spend a lot of time listening to the recording of the song and then work at transforming it into an arrangement that will work for an a cappella group.”
During rehearsals, Reale uses the piano to introduce new songs to the group. Most of the members read music, but because a few singers learn by rote, he teaches each part separately.
“Once everyone is comfortable with the pitches and the rhythm, then we go back in and nuance it and give it some shape with dynamics,” he said.
Some of the songs in their repertoire include “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” by Queen, “Carolina in My Mind” by James Taylor, “Black Water” by the Doobie Brothers, “Runaround Sue” by Dion, “Eight Days a Week” by the Beatles, “Kiss from a Rose” by Seal, and “I Get Around” by the Beach Boys.
The group has a busy spring ahead with the Music@Bosler performance on April 5 and an on-campus performance at the Anita Tuvin Schlechter Auditorium on April 19 at 6:30 p.m.
The Octals will also participate for the third year in a row at the M&T Bank Regional Glee Competition from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. April 20 at the Carlisle Theatre. The competition benefits the United Way of Carlisle & Cumberland County.
In 2011, The Octals swept the competition by winning the college division and a best overall group. But this past year they lost by one point to Drexel University. The competition will be even stiffer this year with 11 college groups competing. But the ensemble isn’t daunted and has been working hard to improve their music and overall professionalism.
“We are really looking forward to trying to regain our title,” Reale said.
The Octals will perform at 7 p.m. Friday, April 5, at Bosler Memorial Library, 158 W. High St., in Carlisle. For more information visit www.cumberlandcountylibraries.org or call 243-4642 X 3224. To learn more about The Octals, visit them on Facebook.
Jess Hayden is the executive director of the Susquehanna Folk Music Society and a clarinetist with the West Shore Symphony Orchestra. She enjoys writing about all styles of music. Reach her at email@example.com.