New voices join the a cappella Battle cry

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Merimanders, Colbyettes
among new sounds in
L-A annual singoff

LEWISTON — For the past 20 years, the Maine Music Society’s “Battle of the Blends” has brought exceptional a cappella music to the Twin Cities.
On Saturday, Nov. 1, eight vocal groups will present the 21st edition of this popular annual concert of unaccompanied vocal stylings at The Franco Center.
With everything from Beatles tunes to barbershop harmony, this performance features several new groups, including “The Merimanders,” the oldest (and only) all-female vocal group at Bates College. They were established in 1958. Their appearance follows previous years’ performances by “The Deansmen,” a male vocal group founded decades ago at Bates, as well as a Bates College group called “The Crosstones.”
Other new groups appearing on this year’s program are “The Colbyettes,” an all-female a cappella group from Colby College formed in 1951 which offers a variety of music ranging from oldies to pop and jazz done in their own arrangements; “Good-Time Sound,” a male quartet that presents a mix of popular songs with some strong ties to the Barbershop world; and The Nor’easters Barbershop Chorus of Bath, which is celebrating their 48th year. The members of this group hail from Auburn to South Bristol.
“Battle of the Blends XXI” also features the Maine Music Society Chamber Singers, which is a 15-20 voice ensemble. It consists of members of the Maine Music Society’s Androscoggin Choral.
Organized about a year ago, the group has performed at many local events including a Naturalization Ceremony at the Lewiston Public Library; the June and August Lewiston-Auburn Art Walks; the summer Concert series at the Basilica; the 25th anniversary of the Holy Family Knights of Columbus; and at Monmouth’s Cumston Hall. They sang for the first ever “Salute to Veterans” last November and will do so again Sunday, Nov. 9.
Their musical choices stretch from the 16th century right up to the present.
Returning for this year’s “Battle of the Blends” is “Vocal Solution” of the Oxford Hills, Bridgton and Westbrook area. Its seven members, male and female, come from different professional and musical backgrounds. Their repertoire that ranges from traditional spirituals to contemporary/popular arrangements.
“None of the Above” is the name of another returning ensemble. They are an a cappella octet based in Massachusetts. For the past ten years they have performed music that includes early polyphony, cutting-edge modern harmony, familiar folk songs, uplifting spirituals, catchy pop tunes, and lush jazz standards.
Some of the a cappella groups accept new members and all of them are happy to point interested singers of a cappella music in the direction of groups they might join.
Judith Andrucki, a co-founder of the first “Battle” when she was a member of the popular “Top Forty” group, said this year’s concert is dedicated to Paul F. Macri, who died this year. He was a co-founder of “Battle of the Blends” and a member of the “Top Forty” quartet.
“Battle of the Blends XXI” takes place at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 1, at The Franco Center, Cedar and Oxford Streets, Lewiston. For tickets call L/A Arts at 782-7228 or purchase tickets online at www.mainemusicsociety.org.
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