Positioned across Spaulding stage with only themselves and their microphones, the six Swingle Singers filled the auditorium with a sound no weaker than a 50-piece choir with full symphony orchestra this past Thursday, April 7. The full house was unsurprising considering the group’s 50 years of high international acclaim and passion for engaging with their audiences.
The evening before the show, they hosted a masterclass for two Dartmouth a cappella groups, the Dodecaphonics and the Cords, and local all-male group The North Country Chordsmen. Each prepared a piece for the Swingles, who then gave tips for improvement and, along with an excited audience, watched the groups perform their pieces better than ever before. You didn’t have to be a professional singer to learn from the Swingles’ poignant tips on curing nerves and attracting the audience, including a “shaking out” activity that had everyone shaking arms, legs and tailbones until laughs echoed through Faulker Recital Hall. The singers showed a real passion for both their own art and for passing that onto others, drawing everyone’s attention even when they weren’t performing.
On Thursday, after a captivating supporting performance by the Dartmouth College Glee Club, the Swingles hooked every eye and ear through the combination of their rich, dynamic sound and minimalist stage presence. They performed songs from their latest album, Deep End, which guests rushed to purchase at the intermission and after the show, along with their Yule Songs album and badges saying “I Love The Swingles.” It’s not often you see a Christmas album selling out in April, which speaks to the entrancing charm of the Swingles’ sound.
Their mastery didn’t diminish between styles, from pop to classical, and each song brought new surprises of what they could do. I found myself searching for the secret drum kit and string section hiding in the wings, unable to believe that the sound was all coming from just six voices. Lo and behold, there was no trickery or deception to be seen—just a lot of talent and years of practice. As the button I’m now wearing can attest, I do heart the Swingle Singers.
By Jennifer Evans ’17
Jennifer Evans is a ’17 from Glamorgan, Wales, who studies English Literature and Creative Writing. She spends at least 30 hours a week at the Hop (a modest estimate), and if you see her staring at you from across the Courtyard Cafe or Top of the Hop, she’s probably writing about you. Please act natural.