Juniors Winston Yang ’19, Evan Corn ’19, Jaewon Oh ’19, and Gabriel Rodriguez ’19 quietly met in the basement of Swig Arts center this past October and together formed Peddie’s first barbershop quartet. Debuting in the Fall Music Concert with a rendition of “I Love That Old Barbershop Style”, the group quickly became well known around campus and widely praised for their fun and easy-going musical style.
Officially called “The Gold ‘n’ Blues”, the group is entirely student-run and organized. What had started as just a few post-rehearsal talks and a hopeful idea has quickly become a full-fledged a cappella quartet. “Frequently after chorus rehearsal, we found ourselves thinking that a couple of dedicated members, with more motivation and drive, could create a group that was more fulfilling than just the groups in chorus,” said Yang. “I think all of us, for a while, have been wanting to do something else – to not only stand out as individual singers, but to make better music as a group.”
While the arts department has structured choral groups such as the Acafellas, Treblemakers, and Peddie Singers, these groups are composed of many more members and are all faculty-directed. The smaller size and lack of faculty oversight in the Gold ‘n’ Blues has given the group more freedom to experiment with different vocal styles and musicality, as well as flexibility with rehearsal times.
In addition, the independence has allowed each of the group members to gain a sense of accomplishment and removed the safety net that sometimes comes with a faculty member being the main source of motivation. “It really gives us a sense of accomplishment and even more drive to prove how we can be successful without the supervision of adults,” said Yang. Rodriguez also noted that although they did not have a faculty member running their group, they could not have succeeded without their help. “We’re extremely appreciative of the work Ms. Green and the arts department does. They are big supporters of the group and help us get performance opportunities.”
Since the group is completely self-organized, all rehearsals occur during the members’ free time. “All the practices that we have, we text each other and agree to meet up,” said Rodriguez. “We try to do DMX, a couple of other times before or after chorus, and sometimes at night. We aim to practice about 3-4 times a week, minimum,” added Corn. A rigorous practice schedule ensures that the group does not fall behind on their performances.
Yang also pointed out that, as a relatively new quartet, setting up a solid foundation and reputation was extremely important to ensuring they would be able to continue performing and expanding their performances outside of Peddie. “Our performance is only as good as the amount of work and dedication we put into the group,” he concluded.
As for future performances, the group is looking to expand its number of venues and appearances. “We’ve performed in the fall concert, we performed in chapel once and will be performing next week in chapel again, and we’re going to be performing at Vespers as well. In the future, we’re also thinking of doing something outside of Peddie – maybe caroling in downtown Princeton during the holidays,” said Corn.
The Gold ‘n’ Blues hope to inspire other students to take initiative as well. Yang believes that “there’s a lot of musical talent at Peddie, and even more potential. I think it’s kind of a good lesson for everyone to just try to go out and do your own thing, to kind of use that potential and maximize it so you can get the best results out of it. It’s important to be proactive and not depend on teachers to guide you in everything”.