The Dear Abbeys
|The Dear Abbeys|
The standing members of the Boston University Dear Abbeys at the Lincoln Memorial in 2012. From left to right: Daniel Gillette, Jesse Galkowski, George DeJesus, Oliver Baverstam, Jason Kaplan, David Skodje, Steven Oranges, Nick Porter, Daniel Taylor, Ben Chodosh, Luke Savoca, Jonathan Corson, David Valbuena.
|Also known as||The Boston University Dear Abbeys; The Abbeys|
|Origin||Boston, Massachusetts, United States|
The Dear Abbeys (officially, The Boston University Dear Abbeys) is an all-male a cappella group from Boston University consisting of current Boston University students, typically undergraduates. Founded in 1992, the Dear Abbeys won the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA) competition in April 2005.
Within the collegiate a cappella genre, the Dear Abbeys have been recognized as a group that is "located in the traditional epicenter of collegiate a cappella." Furthermore, since their inception, the singers have gained a reputation in the Greater Boston area for "their energetic style of live performance, which blends musical precision with a lighthearted stage presence...."
In addition to regular appearances at Boston University's Charles River Campus and throughout the state of Massachusetts, the Dear Abbeys have travelled within the United States to promote the a cappella genre as well as K-12 music education.
Origins and Growth: 1992-2001
The group was founded at Boston University in February 1992 by Boston University students Cooper Olson, Jamie Kilpatrick and Brian Reichelt as the Dear Abbeys. During the group's initial months, President Abraham Lincoln became the group's mascot. The “Abe” logo became known as the mascot of the group after being featured on the Dear Abbeys' posters, tickets, and fliers. Over the years, a persistent running gag is the hidden appearance of the mascot on the musicians' posters around Boston University.
In 1995, the group released its eponymous debut album, The BU Dear Abbeys. The album is often nicknamed Abe for its album art featuring the Dear Abbeys' mascot, President Abraham Lincoln. The thirteen songs on Abe include Elton John's "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word", Billy Joel's "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)", and the Beatles's "Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da."
The group released its sophomore album, Triad, in 1999, and its third album, Abbs of Steel, in 2001. The albums feature several songs whose original versions are often interpreted in the a cappella genre, such as Billy Joel's "The Longest Time" and Queen's "Somebody to Love".
In 2002, the Dear Abbeys began the recording of their fourth studio album, Not Too ShAbbey, which was released the following year. The album features a song composed by the artists themselves, "The Abbeys' Anthem." The anthem remains in the Dear Abbeys' repertoire as of 2012. However, Not Too ShAbbey received mostly lackluster reviews from a cappella critics. Critic Benjamin Stevens wrote, that "...the album is below average, with much work to be done before the next time around."
National Champions and Abbeys Road: 2003-2006
Over the years, the group and its members have garnered several notable awards. The Dear Abbeys have an especially rich history with the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA) Competition, a nation-wide tournament for collegiate a cappella groups. The Abbeys placed third in the 2003 ICCA Northeast Regional Semifinals. That year, at the ICCA Northeast Quarterfinals, member Victor Sandman won the Best Soloist award, and the group's "Cartoon Medley" (from the album Not Too Shabby arranged by members Mike Birnbaum and Sean Landers) was the runner-up for the Best Arrangement award.
Finally, in 2005, the Dear Abbeys claimed victory at the ICCA tournament by becoming the national champions in the ICCA International Finals, held in New York. The members also claimed several individual awards during the tournament. Members Andrew Schwartz and Paul Toms won the award for Outstanding Vocal Percussion at the ICCA Northeast Regional Finals. At the both the ICCA Regional and International Finals, member Robert Mezzanote won the Outstanding Soloist Award for his rendition of Billy Joel's "She's Got a Way." Because of the notability of the ICCA tournament, the Abbeys quickly became well-known performers, especially within the a cappella genre.
The group's notability only increased after the 2006 release of their fifth studio album, Abbeys Road. Although the album is named after the Beatles' Abbey Road, all of the songs on Abbeys Road are by artists other than the Beatles, with the exception of "I Feel Fine." Recorded from 2004 to 2006, the album features several ICCA-winning members, such as Victor Sandman (Best Soloist, 2003 ICCA Northeast Quarterfinals) and Andrew Schwartz (Outstanding Vocal Percussion, 2005 ICCA Northeast Regional Finals). Also featured is the Abbeys' rendition of Billy Joel's "She's Got a Way," whose soloist, Robert Mezzanote, won the Outstanding Soloist Award at the 2005 ICCA International Finals.
The album was released to critical acclaim, with one critic claiming that Abbeys Road "is a clean, smooth outing that certainly vaults the Dear Abbeys into the upper ranks of the male collegiate, if not quite to the front of the line." The album was especially praised for its arrangements and award-winning soloists. Later in 2006, Varsity Vocals, the organizers of ICCA, featured the Abbeys Road song Renegade (originally performed by Styx) on their album Best of Collegiate A Cappella, 2006. Abbeys Road, however, made a lasting impact upon the collegiate a cappella genre: In 2011, iTunes named the Dear Abbeys' cover of The Who's "Baba O'Riley" as an essential song of the a cappella genre.
Sincerely, Lost in Boston, Four Score, Tours, and Proclamation: 2006-
After the success of Abbeys Road, the group began recording their sixth studio album, Sincerely, Lost in Boston (a play on the name "Dear Abbeys"), in 2006. The album was released one year later in 2007. Sincerely, Lost in Boston is a movement from the group's older repertoires of a cappella standards; the album explores other genres with songs such as Gorillaz's "Feel Good, Inc.", They Might Be Giants' "Dr. Worm", and U2's "Where the Streets Have No Name". Like Abbeys Road, Sincerely, Lost in Boston was highly rated by a cappella critics; however, some critics, such as Robert Dietz of the Recorded A Cappella Review Board (RARB), remarked that Sincerely suffered from the "turnover blues" after the success of the Abbeys' previous album. Jevan Soo, also from the RARB, wrote, "A slight upgrade on arranging, with a lot more texture and movement here. A heavy downgrade on soloists and repertoire." Despite this, however, Sincerely, Lost in Boston earned an overall 4.3/5 rating (the same rating that Abbeys Road earned) from the RARB. Also, in 2008, the song "Dr. Worm" was featured on Varsity Vocals' Best of Collegiate A Cappella, 2008.
In 2009, the Dear Abbeys released their seventh album, Four Score. In the album, the Abbeys once again delved into multiple genres, featuring songs such as John Mayer's "Slow Dancing in a Burning Room," The Who's "Who Are You", and Rusted Root's "Send Me On My Way". Four Score was highly rated by a cappella critics such as RARB's Catherine Lewis, who remarks, "What raises [Four Score] to above-average status is an unusual set of songs: I'd rather listen to The Dear Abbeys (or, really, anyone) doing songs that haven't been covered to death recently, and it's nice to hear these guys dust off some tunes that haven't been played in a while."
Especially in the years following the Abbeys' victory at the 2005 ICCA Finals, the Dear Abbeys have became highly regarded musicians in the Greater Boston area. In most academic years, the group performs approximately 35 times per year at Boston University's Charles River campus as well as other locations in the Greater Boston area. Within the city of Boston, however, the Dear Abbeys have performed at the TD Banknorth Garden, and performed at the famous Fenway Park in April 2010. In March, the group performed at Boston University's "Boston Stands With Haiti" gala for Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick. On April 29, 2012, the Dear Abbeys are scheduled to host A Cappella Palooza, a benefit for the Massachusetts General Hospital cancer center, at Boston University's Agganis Arena. This event will feature the Dear Abbeys, as well as several prominent artists and a cappella groups, including Ben Folds and Pentatonix.
Each academic semester, the group holds several major performances at Boston University. Each fall, since 2009, the Dear Abbeys holds their Men Being Manly concert on campus, featuring the Tufts University Beelzebubs. Also, at the end of each academic semester, the Dear Abbeys hold one major performance showcasing their current repertoire.
Since 2008, the Dear Abbeys have embarked on yearly tours to promote the group, as well as the a cappella genre and K-12 music education. In 2008, the Abbeys travelled to Austin, Texas. The following year, in 2009, the group toured through New Mexico. In 2010, the musicians visited Key West, Florida. In 2011, the group traveled to New Orleans, Louisiana. In 2012, the Dear Abbeys toured through Washington, D.C. and Charlottesville, Virginia. Alumni member Jason Kaplan remarked, “We have sung at elementary, middle, and high schools, and engage with students in any capacity.... At high schools we promote BU, and we try to use our craft to spark positive change.”  In addition to these tours supporting the arts, the musicians have supported arts education in Boston, by performing at charity events which showcase the arts.
On April 28, 2012, the Dear Abbeys celebrated their twentieth anniversary and released their eighth and most recent studio album, Proclamation.
As of September 2014, the Dear Abbeys is composed of eleven undergraduate members enrolled at Boston University. Because of the number of members per year, the organization has accumulated a large alumni network. After leaving the Dear Abbeys (through graduation from Boston University), some alumni have continued their musical endeavors through other non-collegiate musical groups (mostly in New England), such as the Cape Cod-based a cappella group Hyannis Sound.
Member selection is based on aspects such as musicianship, personality and performance, as judged by the standing members of the Dear Abbeys at a private audition. New members are inducted in the fall semester of each academic year, and the number of new members varies per year.
The members of the Dear Abbeys create all of the group's musical arrangements and conduct their own rehearsals, led by an executive board consisting of a president, media director, business director, treasurer, and music director.
|Album title ||Release Date||Credited soloists|
|The BU Dear Abbeys (Abe)||1995||Jamie Kirkpatrick, Bill Johnston, Brian Reichelt, Zahed Sirajullah, Jason Florack, Adam Hirsh, Kevin Erwin, Mark H. Rooney, Martinzie Richmond|
|Triad||1999||Brandon Itkowitz, Suj Sen, Luis O. Rodriguez, Dan Pritikin, Jason Florack, Kurt Thoennessen, Luke Finnestad, Seth Greenlaw, Dave Blauch|
|Abbs of Steel||2001||Victor Sandman, Ehasan Iraniparast, Kurt Thoenessen, Suj Sen, Sean Landers, Daniel Pritikin, Dave Blauch, Dave Marshall, Michael Birnbaum|
|Not Too ShAbbey||2003||Victor Sandman, Kaveh Riahi, Jordan Feinstein, Daniel Berger-Jones, Dave Huang, Michael Birnbaum, Eric Thoenessen, Rob Hardy, Rob Mezzanotte|
|Abbeys Road||2006||Victor Sandman, Joe Akl, Rob Mezzanotte, Michael Birnbaum, Patrick Hopple, Jordan Feinstein, Kaveh Riahi|
|Sincerely, Lost in Boston||2007||Scott Williams, Marc Rambeau, Nick Cortese, Nathan Brenner, Ed McManus, Patrick Hopple, Sam Bond, Nathan Brenner, John Gilling|
|Four Score||2009||Chris Giordano, Alex Couch, Emmett Patton, Nathan Brenner, Hunter Young, John Gilling|
|Proclamation||2012||Luke Savoca, Jesse Galkowski, Tommy Barth, Chris Giordano, Jason Kaplan, Peter Moriarty, David Valbuena, Paul Pinard, Daniel Taylor|
- Results, 2005 International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA).
- Recorded A Cappella Review Board (RARB) Review of Not Too ShAbbey".
- Biography of The Dear Abbeys from the Contemporary A Cappella Society.
- Friday, Leslie. 15 Jul 2011. "Dear Abbeys Rock the Weekend". BU Today. Retrieved 24 May 2012.
- Steidley, Amalie. 11 Nov 2011. "Don't Print That: An Interview with the Dear Abbeys". BU Quad. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
- Results, 2003 ICCA
- RARB Review of Abbeys Road.
- iTunes, A Cappella Essentials playlist.
- RARB Review of Sincerely, Lost in Boston.
- Best of Collegiate A Cappella, 2012
- RARB Review of Four Score.
- Baker, Rachel. Feb 2007. These Are the Biggest Studs on Campus?" Boston. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
- The Dear Abbeys performing at Fenway Park.
- The Dear Abbeys' blog post about "Boston Stands With Haiti".
- The Dear Abbeys' performer listing for A Cappella Palooza.
- A Cappella Palooza Performers List.
- Michael, Lauren. 14 Nov 2011. "Men Being Manly III Proves That Real Men Sing A Cappella". BU Quad. Retrieved 24 May 2012.
- Gauthier, Brendan. 12 Nov 2010. "Men Being Manly: BU’s Dear Abbeys perform with the Tufts Beelzebubs". BU Today. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
- Laskowski, Amy. 27 Apr 2012. "Dear Abbeys Turn 20". BU Today. Retrieved 24 May 2012.
- Choi, Kevin. 9 Mar 2012. "From Bach to Funk: A Charity Concert". BU Quad. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
- Dickinson, Kelly. 30 Oct 2011. "Igniting Ideas With BU Inspire". BU Quad. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
- Official member roster from the group's official website.
- As listed in respective album notes