BERLIN — When Yale University’s Baker’s Dozen a cappella group visited Worcester Prepatory School this week for a concert and a student workshop, the response was overwhelming.
“They blew me away,” said Worcester Prep student Elise Harmon.
Of course, Harmon is a bit biased since her big brother, Hunter Harmon, a 2011 Worcester Prep alumnus, is a member of the group. However, with their performance at the school receiving a standing ovation and their workshop with music students afterwards heavily attended, it’s safe to say the Baker’s Dozen, nicknamed the BD, were a hit.
Dr. Barry Tull, Headmaster at Worcester, had nothing but praise for the Dozen, which actually has 17 members, and said he enjoyed seeing Hunter Harmon back on campus.
“It’s an amazing experience for us because he did so much with music while he was here,” said Tull.
While the BD demonstrated its vocal talent during the concert, it was during the workshop with students afterward that members examined the nuts and bolts of singing a song.
Group leader Bobby Dresser told students that the key to a cappella is finding a group “blend” of sound.
“When we’re singing together, one of the most important things in our group sound is just this really broad term called blend,” he said. “And blend is really sort of hard to think about, it’s made of a million different things, but one of the biggest parts of it is your vowel.”
With a cappella, Dresser explained that a song has to be broken up into a series of parts for certain vocal ranges and then built back into a song in a way that the individual pieces fit together seamlessly. He added that one of the reasons the BD sync so well is because they consist of so many different voices with new members only added after extensive auditions.
After going over the fundamentals, the group spent part of the afternoon working with students, culminating with the entire room harmonizing through a few songs from the BD’s earlier concert.
Dresser encouraged all of the students who have an interest in music to pursue it after high school, either through a cappella or a glee group. While some of the members of BD did not sung before college, Dresser pointed out that all of the students at the workshop already have experience and training they can use.
“You guys already have a head start if this is something you want to continue to do,” he said.
Tull agreed and said it was great to have the college students show where music can take them after high school.
“It helps some of our students relate to some of the experiences that they could have,” he said.
The group has already made an impression, according to Elise Harmon, who plans on following her brother’s footsteps in the arts with music and acting.
The Baker’s Dozen is one of the highest regarded and most popular college a cappella groups in the country. Much of that, said Dresser, comes from tradition because the group has been around since 1947. The group visited Worcester as part of the university’s spring break. When not giving lessons at member’s alma maters, the group performs at live and televised venues across the country.
Recently, the group sang the national anthem at Fenway Park in Boston as well as appeared on the Martha Stewart Show.