Harvard Din & Tonics

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The Harvard Din & Tonics (or "the Dins") are a signature, five-part jazz a cappella group from Harvard University, founded in 1979.


The group was founded in 1979 as a public service project of the Phillips Brooks House Association at Harvard College in Cambridge, Massachusetts, performing for the university community and local charitable organizations. Their repertoire was founded upon that of the Dunster Dunces, an earlier Harvard a cappella group that was active from 1946 into the mid-1960s.[1][2] Their first public concert was at Yale University in November 1979, amidst the pageantry of the Harvard-Yale football game. The group performed in their first film in 1982, entitled First Affair and starring Melissa Sue Anderson and Loretta Swit. Their most recent film appearance was in Mona Lisa Smile,[3] a 2003 movie starring Julia Roberts that was set at Wellesley College. The Harvard Din & Tonics celebrated their thirty-fifth anniversary with a concert at Harvard's Sanders Theater on March 30, 2014. Traditionally an all-male ensemble, the group admitted its first female member in 2018.[4]

Origin of the Name[edit]

The name Din & Tonics is a pun on the popular drink the gin and tonic, and the words din, meaning a loud noise, and tonic, a musical term meaning the first note of a musical scale. The lime green socks worn by the group's members are said to represent the lime that is traditionally served with the gin and tonic, hence the group's slogan, "A cappella with a twist."

Repertoire and Performance[edit]

The Dins, composed of 12 to 15 undergraduate students, is an entirely self-directed group. Most of their arrangements are done by current or former members of the group. Their repertoire consists primarily of jazz standards from the Great American Songbook, as well as humor songs drawn from various periods and styles. Their repertoire also extends at times to numerous other genres, including folk, rock, calypso, spiritual, and pop. They regularly perform in white tie, tails, and their signature lime green socks.

The Din and Tonics began performing their own arrangement of "Sh-Boom" (generally regarded as the first popular doo-wop song after it became a #1 hit on the Billboard charts in 1954) in 1979. It has served as the Dins' signature song, and they have performed it at almost every concert since. Sh-Boom is featured on fourteen of the group's fifteen albums.

The Dins have appeared on television shows, including The Price Is Right and Good Morning America, and have performed the Star Spangled Banner for the San Francisco Giants, the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Los Angeles Lakers, the PGA’s Ryder Cup, the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees, the Boston Celtics, the Boston Bruins, and the Boston Breakers.

Traveling and Tours[edit]

The Dins have performed overseas since the founding of the group, and began touring Asia regularly in the late 1980s. Since 1990, the Dins have gone on world tours biennially. Each tour is between 2 and 3 months long and includes performances in roughly 15 countries in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and North America. Additionally, they travel regularly to Vail, Colorado, Washington, D.C., New York City and spend spring break performing in Bermuda or Whistler, BC. The Dins have toured in: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Fiji, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Nepal, Serbia, Singapore, Slovenia, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, the United Kingdom, and the Vatican City. While on tour in 2010, the Dins performed at the closing ceremonies for the Shanghai Expo music festival. In January 2017 the Dins performed the National Anthem for the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, following a performance with the Harvard Krokodiloes for the Harvard Club of Southern California.

Notable Collaborations and Performances[edit]

The Dins have performed for jazz vocalists Ella Fitzgerald and Bobby McFerrin, for members of the New York Voices, singer Lionel Richie, jazz pianist Herbie Hancock, jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, former governor and professional wrestler Jesse Ventura, actresses Julia Roberts, Kristin Chenoweth, Sharon Stone, Jessica Lange, Kathie Lee Gifford, and Kathleen Turner, television host Conan O'Brien, actor Andy Garcia, comedian Jackie Mason, Maestro Keith Lockhart of the Boston Pops, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, Caroline Kennedy, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, as well as the Governor of Bermuda and the U.S. ambassadors to Australia, Germany, Greece, Nepal, Ireland, Morocco, Norway, Italy and Belgium.[5] They have appeared in the films "Mona Lisa Smile" and "First Affair." During their world tour, the Dins have recently performed with the award-winning German vocal quintet Vocaldente and Icelandic vocalist Andrea Gylfadóttir.

Most recently, the Dins performed for John Williams at Harvard's 366th Commencement, to celebrate his distinguished career. The group performed an original medley of his most notable songs, ranging from Jaws to Star Wars and Indiana Jones.

Notable alumni[edit]

  • Jonathan Aibel, writer of Kung Fu Panda, Kung Fu Panda 2, and Kung Fu Panda 3
  • Samuel Wong, conductor of the New York Philharmonic
  • Robert S. Rivkin, Senior Vice President for Regulatory and International Affairs and Deputy General Counsel of Delta Air Lines
  • Peter Feaver, American professor of political science and public policy at Duke University. Special Advisor for Strategic Planning and Institutional Reform on the National Security Council during George W. Bush Administration and Director for Defense Policy and Arms Control at the National Security Council during the Clinton administration.
  • Bruce Sabath—Broadway actor (Company, Cagney, The Girlfriend)[6]
  • Tom Campbell—Executive Vice President of Development, World of Wonder Productions.
  • Patrick Whelan MD PhD—first music director of the Dins, Lecturer in Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at the Keck USC School of Medicine, and bioethicist who founded Catholic Democrats.


The Din and Tonics have produced 17 albums thus far:

  • In the Beginning (1983)
  • With a Twist (1985)
  • Dins at 10 (1988)
  • In the Limelight (1990)
  • Tonic Boom (1992)
  • Sublime (1994)
  • Toast of the Town (1996)
  • Platonic (1998)
  • Freshly Squeezed (2000)
  • The Green Album (2002)
  • Dinbound (2004)
  • Hint of Lime (2008)
  • The Pursuit of Snappiness (2010) — This album features an original song for the Dins written by composer Nathaniel Stookey and lyricist Daniel Handler (author of A Series of Unfortunate Events under the pen name Lemony Snicket)
  • Rhapsody in Green (2012)
  • Easy Being Green (2014)
  • The Dark Side of the Lime (2016)
  • Citric (2018)

External links[edit]


  1. ^ http://www.thecrimson.com/article/1947/11/15/dunsters-dunces-sing-almost-anything-for/
  2. ^ http://www.thecrimson.com/article/1963/5/22/the-dunster-dunces-pthe-dunster-dunces/
  3. ^ https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0304415/trivia
  4. ^ "Formerly All-Male A Capella Group Din and Tonics Admits First Woman Member | News | The Harvard Crimson". www.thecrimson.com. Retrieved 2019-01-30.
  5. ^ http://dins.com/history/
  6. ^ http://www.broadwayworld.com/people/Bruce-Sabath/