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00707012
2012.08
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KOREAN

Harvard Krokodiloes Present Wonderful Harmony/Famed A Cappella Group at KF Gallery Open Stage 4

The Harvard Krokodiloes have a long and colorful history as a collegiate a cappella singing group. Since its founding 66 years ago, many alumni of this all-male vocal group have gone on to distinguish themselves as leaders in various sectors of American society. The group has performed, among other notable performances, at the inaugural ball of U.S. President Bill Clinton, the handover ceremony of Hong Kong, and a sold-out concert at Carnegie Hall. In recent years, the group has been visiting Korea on an annual basis, contributing to Korea-U.S. cultural exchange. This year, the tuxedo-clad Harvardians performed at the KF Gallery Open Stage Stage’s 4th session.

A 66-year Tradition

The Harvard Krokodiloes (Kroks), Harvard University’s oldest a cappella group, has made annual visits to Korea since 2009, after making its first appearance here in 1997. This year, the group gave a performance on July 2 as part of the Korea Foundation Gallery Open Stage program. Over the past 66 years since its founding in 1946, members of the Kroks have gone on to become prominent leaders in various sectors of American society, keeping up with Harvard University’s reputation as a member of the Ivy League.

A 66-year Tradition

While the Harvard campus is home to several singing groups and clubs, the Kroks is said to be the most exclusive group because of its strict admission process. In accordance with its longstanding tradition, the group consists of 12 male undergraduates; they stage as many as 200 goodwill performances, large and small, every year, including overseas performances in all six continents.

Beauty of the Human Voice

“A cappella,” derived from the Italian expression “in the manner of the chapel,” referred to the singing of choir groups, without instrumental accompaniment, which was commonly seen in European cathedrals in the 16th century. At the time, religious singing did not include accompaniment by musical instruments due to the belief that the human voice represented the purest form to offer praise and express dedication to God. As such, church choir groups focused on perfecting vocal harmony until the appearance of the pipe organ. Apart from the emergence of a cappella choirs in the 16th century, numerous forms of vocal folk music, without instrumental accompaniment, had long been developed and practiced in countries around the world.

Moreover, today’s a cappella groups, like the Harvard Krokodiloes, typically perform popular tunes, including enduring hits from past eras, which are presented in up-tempo arrangements with choreographed movements. In particular, the Kroks struck a nostalgic chord with the audience by performing a number of “golden oldie” classics and even works from the Big Band era. The group’s refined vocal renditions were brought to life with amusing movements and facial expressions.

Flair for Showmanship

The program included about 20 songs, successfully presented by integrating the singing with well-choreographed dancing and humorous dialogue. In fact, “What’s Your Name?” and “Runaway” were rendered more like scenes from musicals. The solo and duet parts revealed the remarkable musical talent of individual members, accentuated by backup accompaniment and animated movements. In contrast to the overall light-hearted atmosphere of the evening, “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” a 60s classic of Elvis Presley, was reminiscent of the golden era of American rock and roll.

The Kroks thus led the audience on an emotional journey of popular music with a combination of longtime favorites and polished stage routines. For an encore, the group presented a medley of several familiar songs that provided a fitting finish to a highly entertaining evening. While Harvard is highly regarded for its academic excellence, the Krokodiloes offered a glimpse of a less-known aspect of its gifted students.

Choi Kyung-sook Freelance Writer

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