A flurry of nerves and excitement fell upon 20 Binghamton University students as they huddled together at the 50th St. entrance to Radio City Music Hall.
Though they had to bundle up with coats and scarves, the cold did not stop these singers from warming up their voices early Sunday morning. A tuning note played and passersby looked on with delight as the group began to harmonize.
These students were not caroling on the streets of Manhattan; they were The Binghamtonics, BU’s oldest co-ed a cappella group, preparing to perform on stage to open for the famous Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall’s Christmas Spectacular.
The members of The Binghamtonics were shuffled into the historic building’s side door, given moments to practice in a barricaded section of the lobby, then brought on stage as the 6,000-person sold-out audience began to find their seats.
“I think this is bigger than Lecture Hall,” Lindsay Gelb, a senior majoring in biology and a member of The Binghamtonics, jokingly whispered to a fellow Tonics member as they were being led to the stage door. This past semester the group performed at the Dollar Show and Fall Semester show in rooms throughout Lecture Hall, but none of these rooms would compare to the stage they were about to step foot on.
Once members of the group formed their semi-circle on the middle of the stage, it was clear they felt right at home.
“To actually have the chance to be here performing at Radio City is something that I never expected to be able to aspire to achieve. It’s a dream,” said Ashley Edlesberg, a junior majoring in integrative neuroscience.
Holiday spirit filled the air as the group sang their arrangement of N*SYNC’s “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays.”
Four members of the group — juniors Kristen Dale, Alexander Goldstein and Taryn Lindquist, and senior Adam Reid — performed solos during the show.
As the theater roared with applause, The Binghamtonics left the stage and sat with their friends and families to watch the Christmas Spectacular, and mentally prepare for the rest of their day singing in the city.
“Being on stage was incredible,” said Robbie Nussbaum, president of the a cappella group and a senior majoring in philosophy, politics and law. “It was definitely the experience of a lifetime to sing on such a large stage and look out on so many people. It was a feeling I will never forget.”
After the show, the group sped out into the cold once again to rush over to Saks Fifth Avenue for its next performance of the day. Once inside, the group, escorted by store employees, traveled throughout the store to sing three to five songs on four different floors. After their first performance on the ninth floor, the Tonics had family, friends and shoppers following the group as they caroled.
The Binghamtonics sang arrangements from their repertoire including “Disturbia,” “Free Falling,” “Sweet Child of Mine,” “It’s All Been Done” and “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays” once again.
“This is incredible, it’s overwhelming,” said Jennifer Lane, a senior majoring in English, who belted out Rihanna’s “Disturbia” at Saks Fifth Avenue. “It’s an incredible opportunity we never thought we would have. It’s an honor, it’s really exciting. These are my best friends and to do something so great with my best friends, I couldn’t ask for more.”
According to Nussbaum, the group was selected to sing at Radio City after they 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, during 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.
Listen to a clip of their performance: