On a chamber choir trip to Romania in 2003, a musical brotherhood was born.
Sons of Pitch, the all-male a cappella group, reunited 32 former members to perform at the Betts Theatre on Saturday, with some alumni flying in from as far away as Sweden and Japan. The graduates came a long way after playing their first show together a decade ago in a hunting lodge in eastern Europe.
The performance marked the group’s 10-year reunion after its overseas start, which created a campus group to complement co-ed a cappella choirs like the Troubadours and the GW Vibes.
“A lot of us were already in the Troubadours, but we wanted the opportunity to sing in an all-male group, and we were also excited by the idea of kind of doing what we wanted to do,” Jeff Stern, who graduated in 2005, said.
Members of chamber choir and a cappella groups, the four Sons of Pitch founders visualized a group that tackled both classic all-male repertoire and modern pop tracks. A year after their formation, they were named the Students’ Choice Performance Group of the Year.
When 2008 graduate Alex Hecht took the stage with his a cappella group this weekend, he said he felt surrounded by more than just a collective of singers.
“I was in it for four years, and it really turned into a brotherhood,” said Hecht, the group’s former business manager. “A lot of these guys will be standing up in my wedding.”
The camaraderie among the men is not lost today: Alumnus Erik Bergman said he believes he might have transferred schools had he not been in Sons of Pitch.
For other members, the performance experience encouraged professional endeavors. Phil Sherman, one of the group’s founders, is pursuing a master’s degree in conducting from King’s College.
Saturday’s show featured a diverse repertoire, from Justin Timberlake’s “Pusher Love Girl” to a cappella favorite “Duke of Earl” by Gene Chandler.
The group closed the show with one of their most popular renditions since their inception, “Change In My Life,” popularized by Rockapella.
The show revived memories of notable past performances, some less than sentimental.
“My mom was in the audience [during Parent’s Weekend], and we did ‘Stacy’s Mom,’ and then for some reason the guys decided they wanted to change it to ‘Shyer’s mom,'” Evan Shyer, a 2005 graduate, said. “It’s hard to forget.”
Hecht noted the alumni network is small, comprised of roughly 40 former members. Hecht said widespread recruitment is difficult with little funding from GW and subsequently little publicity.
Still, alumni noted there was never a rivalry among a cappella groups: many founding members sang in multiple groups and performed at area festivals with each other.
“A lot of us were in two groups, and we liked that, just because the bottom line is we all were musicians and just wanted to sing, and so we wanted to do it as much as possible,” Stern said.
This semester marked a turnaround for the group’s recruitment numbers, when, according to Hecht, about 20 students auditioned.
“Even during our largest audition days when I was still in school, the biggest we’d see is maybe 20 to 25 kids,” Hecht added. “This group definitely conducts themselves with a better sense of professionalism than we did. The talent has definitely stayed as strong, but these guys know how to handle themselves.”