In just one week, the Dartmouth Aires will perform at the Four Seasons Hotel Beijing for the Daystar/Ivy Charity Cocktail Concert. The event will entail a silent auction featuring works from renowned artists, hotel stays, and restaurant vouchers in addition to a cocktail menu and free flowing drinks. All proceeds from the event will help support six migrant schools’ art and music program for a year and fund the college education of eight rural girls from Guilin. In anticipation of the noteworthy cause, beijingkids spoke to Dartmouth Aires Spring Tour Manager Brian Chalif.
Tell us about the group.
The group was founded in 1946, back when Dartmouth was all male. Although Dartmouth has become co-ed, the Aires have remained all male. We originally were part of the Glee Club, but over time we detached. When we departed from the Glee Club, we become completely student run, from logistics to budgeting, arranging, rehearsals, choreography and any aspect you could think that would go into an a cappella group. The group currently has 20 members, with a large new member class of six people.
Why a cappella?
As mentioned, we started as part of the Glee Club, but separated many years ago. In very old recordings, occasionally there were instruments, but that was only in the first couple of years. The reason that we only do a cappella is mostly tradition at this point, but I think most members would agree that the pure vocal music allows for some of the most beautiful music.
Is there a type of music that is impossible to vocalize?
We sing a wide range of music. Pop, classical, musical theater, jazz, and much much more. I can’t imagine singing something like heavy metal music, dubstep, or electronic music. That being said, we have never tried!
How many languages can the group sing in?
We sing mostly in English. However, we are learning a Chinese song for this tour! As a group, we have not sung in many languages, but individually many of us have sung in other languages. To name a few: French, Italian, German, Spanish, Hebrew, and Latin, but I am sure there are many more.
What types of songs tend to be most popular?
We tend to sing a lot of new popular music, as this is what our young college-age crowds generally enjoy. We also sing a lot of traditional Dartmouth songs, which Dartmouth alumni love.
What are some of the most different /interesting songs the group has performed?
We have sung new popular music like Uptown Funk featuring Bruno Mars, which is brand new and pretty mainstream. Last year, we sang Lady is a Tramp, a traditional jazz piece. Next term, after the tour, we will be learning a classical choral piece named Lux Aurumque, by Eric Whitacre.
What types of events do the Aires normally sing?
We sing at a wide range of events; there is no normal for the Aires! Since I have been in the group we have sung many alumni shows, school shows, and various Dartmouth functions. Some of the more exciting shows have included live video streams to tens of thousands of people, a performance at the White House, major fundraisers, an Obama presidential campaign rally for over twenty thousand people, and the national anthem at national league baseball games.
What the next move for the group?
Next year we will be working on recording a Christmas album. We also will be having our tri-annual reunions, in which 60+ Aires alumni come to Dartmouth to reminisce times singing with the group. Next year we will also do two tours. One on the east coast of the United States and one is yet to be decided, we are thinking maybe Iceland.
Is this your first time in China? Why did the Aires choose the Daystar Academy/Ivy charity event in particular?
This is my first time to China. A couple members have been, but most of us have not. For some, it is the first time leaving the country! We chose China because ever since NBC’s The Sing Off was aired in China 2 years ago (in which the Aires were runners up), we have been dreaming of going to China. This dream will become a reality in just a couple weeks. In regards to Daystar/Ivy, I give all the credit to Daystar Marketing Manager, Ja Wuttihamrong who has helped plan the entire thing. Without her, this show and our experience in China would not have nearly run as smoothly or been as enjoyable.
Are there any sites in particular in Beijing you’d like to see most?
We are performing a lot, but intend to also see some sights. We are going to see the Great Wall, of course. We will also see the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, and Mao Zedong’s Mausoleum. Some other things we are hoping to see are The Golden Mask Dynasty Show and Panjiayuan Flea Market. For us, a tour that combines sight seeing and shows provides for a wonderful cultural exchange. We are very much looking forward to the charity concert at the four seasons.