Imagine a group of 16 college aged men wearing wacky, plaid, and mix-matched suit jackets singing the sweet harmonies of “Somewhere” from West Side Story in the middle-of-nowhere New Hampshire. These men, from all over the country and the world, are joined together through the bonds of fraternity. They auditioned, worked their hardest, and grace the Dartmouth acapella scene. No, these aren’t your ordinary group of college boys. No, they are not the Trebletones. And no, they aren’t from Barden. These are the Dartmouth Aires.
They began the long road to acapella-dom during their first weeks in Hanover by auditioning on their first Sunday of school. By singing scales, a prepared song, and a possible call back, the boys (and their fellow aca-people) find there families in the acapella culture of Dartmouth. After all night auditions, new Aires are welcomed into the group by Older Aires the next morning to the tune of “Somewhere,” the Aires’ song. Members of the groups then experience the ebb and tide of membership. As sophomore David Clossey puts it, “the group is totally different every term. Freshmen bring new excitement.” But, there is always the “same drive, same commitment, and same energy.”
The Aires don’t leave their “infectious energy” on the stage though; they bring it to practice as well. On Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, the 16 boys gather for two hour practices – full of new songs each term. Outside of these practices, all the songs are arranged by group members as well. The group tries to do an array of songs that “best represent” the group. Songs range from new music you hear on the radio to holiday tunes to the Dartmouth Alma Mater and to the Aires’ traditional songs. There is a pay off though for all the hard work. “When it really gels it’s sort of a remarkable feeling,” Clossey remarks.
The Dartmouth Aires are most known for their quirky, energetic, and crazy numbers as seen on the NBC television show The Sing-Off, an acapella competition show with judges Ben Folds, Sara Bareilles, and Shawn Stockman. Through singing songs such as “(Save A Horse) Ride a Cowboy” and creating medleys of Queen songs, the Aires reached national fame. Since the show aired, the Aires have performed for the governor of New Hampshire, President Bill Clinton, and privately for President and Mrs. Obama. All of these performance have been memorable for the Aires, but Clossey’s favorite part of dawning his wild suit jacket that had been passed down from the generations of Aires before him was “singing with the great guys [in the Aires] three times a week and spending a substantial amount of time with people who have a variety of interests.”
No, they don’t throw burritos at people. No, they don’t compete at the ICCA’s or the International Championship of Collegiate A Capella. And no, they aren’t best friends with Fat Amy (or Fat Patricia) and Bologna Barb. The Dartmouth Aires are a group of 16 undergraduates at Dartmouth who “get together and just make music. No matter what else.”