Kokosinging and Water Bottles
I had always regarded collegiate a cappella as one of those things that I would definitely try when I got to college, but never do in any serious way.
I was always very interested in music, and while my voice wasn’t necessarily the strongest, I figured that my knowledge of music could land me a spot in a group. Having never sung in any organized way before, I expected my first audition would be poor. It turned out to be very poor: not even a callback. It was later that night that I decided I didn’t care all that much about a cappella. I was a trumpet player, not a singer.
And yet the next morning I found myself standing nervously in front of a different group of guys, singing a lazy rendition of “Pennies from Heaven.” Apparently, though it sounded the same as it had the previous night, my singing was good enough to warrant a callback for this group, the Kokosingers. I’ll spare you the rest of the details of the audition process. I made it into the group.
The group, I later learned, was far more intense than I had ever imagined. Five nights a week we would rehearse like mad to put together over an hour of music in four weeks. To this day, there is little definition in my memory separating freshman orientation, Kokes rehearsals, and a Halloween that felt two weeks long. This is all to say that while my first semester was moving at hyper-speed, the most pristine memory I have is placing water bottles on the stage before the Family Weekend Concert.
The capacity for Rosse Hall is something like 750, but there must have been over a thousand people there for the concert. Some sat in the windows, others on the floor. When the older Kokes sent the freshmen out to put the water bottles on stage, it remains the closest in my life I’ve ever felt to being a Beatle.
The applause was insane, especially when all I was doing was placing four or five water bottles along an arc. The concert itself ended up blurring in with the rest of my first year at Kenyon, but that single moment of placing the water bottles has always stuck with me. I now look enviously as each year’s freshmen get to take the stage early to put them in place.
Three years later, I find myself music director of the group that I had only regarded as a fleeting trial before. It has become the biggest extracurricular I do at Kenyon. Between three concerts at Kenyon and a winter tour, it’s nonstop. And while I still feel something like a Beatle when the crowd cheers and we sing “All My Loving,” “Please Please Me,” or any of the seven or so Beatles songs in the repertoire, nothing has yet to compare to that tiny moment of placing water bottles on the stage.