The Binghamtonics, Binghamton University’s oldest co-ed a cappella group, will bring their talent to New York City this December when they open for the Radio City Rockettes at Radio City’s world-renowned annual Christmas Spectacular.
The Binghamtonics will be performing ‘Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays,’ an *NSYNC song arranged by the members of the Tonics specifically for the Radio City event, on Dec. 19 for an audience of about 6,000, according to Rob Nussbaum, president of the a cappella group.
‘We’ve never done anything like this before,’ said Nussbaum, a senior majoring in philosophy, politics and law. ‘Our events normally take place in the lecture halls so this is bigger and much more prestigious than anything we’ve ever done before.’
According to Nussbaum, the group responded to a flyer that was forwarded to them over the summer inquiring, ‘Does your group want to open for the Radio City Rockettes?’
After getting in contact with a Radio City representative, the group began the competitive audition process, for which they composed a new song to perform at the event, put together an audition tape and completed a pre-sale requirement of 50 tickets.
‘We always keep an eye out for things like this and it’s important to make sure we go about it in the right way,’ Nussbaum said.
The opportunity to perform at Radio City came just after the group decided to put an end to their efforts to get onto NBC’s competitive a cappella series, ‘The Sing Off.’
‘We would have had to miss a lot of school and cut people from the group to do it,’ Nussbaum said. ‘We’re all really good friends and it would have been really hard to have to tell anyone that they wouldn’t be able to contribute. Radio City is a great opportunity, it’s over winter break and no one has to be cut. Now for the rest of our lives we can say, ‘I sang at Radio City Music Hall.’
Alex Goldstein echoed Nussbaum, adding that the group is really lucky to be performing at Radio City.
‘It’s such a high-stakes event, people are going to get nervous,’ said Goldstein, a junior majoring in cinema and member of the Binghamtonics. ‘It’s nice to know that I’ll be up on one of the biggest stages ever with some of my closest friends.’
The Binghamtonics are one of eight a cappella groups at BU. Eighteen members currently sing for the group, but the number fluctuates with the coming and going of freshman and senior classes every year, Nussbaum said. Tryouts for a new generation of Tonics will be held the week after Thanksgiving.
The group is strictly student-run. All the music they perform is chosen and arranged by members of the group, alumni or in collaboration with other a cappella groups.
‘We have some really talented musicians in our group who arrange our songs,’ Nussbaum said.
The group holds three-hour rehearsals three times a week and tries to perform at least twice a week. Every semester, they perform at two large on-campus shows: the Dollar Show, to encourage new students to join the group, and an end-of-semester show, which showcases all of their material. But the majority of their performances are for smaller groups of students or off-campus events.
In past semesters, the Tonics have performed at events such as the Dickinson Halloween party, Relay for Life and the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA). The group also conducts annual summer and winter tours where they travel to Long Island and upstate, performing at high schools, nursing homes and for special needs groups, according to Nussbaum.
‘As a group, one of the biggest things we’ve done musically was the ICCA. It was a competition, which we’d never done before,’ Nussbaum said. ‘We’re really proud of that from a musical and personal stance, but when we go to a school for special needs or a nursing home, that’s also very valuable. Just to entertain these people and to bring a smile to their faces is really special.’
The Tonics pride themselves on bringing a unique style and sense of humor to their performances.
‘A lot of other groups will come out in matching outfits and uniforms, but we try to have more fun with it,’ Nussbaum said. ‘We make sure we dress up in costumes and we perform skits. There’s a very comedic side to our group as well as a musical side, that separates us from the rest.’
On Nov. 20, the Binghamtonics will be putting on their annual fall semester show with the theme of ‘Tonics vs. The World,’ toying with the fact that Adam Richmond of ‘Man v. Food’ will be visiting BU that week.
According to Nussbaum, the show will feature lots of food-related costumes and sketch comedy parodying ‘Man v. Food’ and Man vs. Wild.
Tickets for the fall semester show are $3 for students and $5 for adults. The event will be held at 8 p.m. in Lecture Hall 1.
Tickets are on sale for the Radio City Christmas Spectacular at www.radiocitychristmas.com/newyork/tickets.html.