Section: Arts

Kokes on the Kourt: a musical success and vocal slam dunk

Kokes on the Kourt: a musical success and vocal slam dunk

The Kokes traded Rosse Hall for Tomsich Arena on Friday. | DELILAH LOCKE

On Saturday, the Kokosingers (Kokes) took to the court — that’s right, no ordinary stage at this performance, but instead Tomsich Arena. The concert brought lots of energy and spirit from both the a cappella group and the audience members as the room filled with the voices of the lovely tenors and basses.

Before the concert, audience members filed into the bleachers, where a good view of the semi-circle curtains and microphones shaped the area that the Kokes would perform. While it was a change from their usual rehearsal and performance spaces, Rosse Hall and Brandi Recital Hall, the group enjoyed the change of pace. “Performing in the KAC was very different than anywhere we had performed before, but I think it added a fun dynamic in addition to assisting with a fuller sound,” Senior Music Director Riley Orth ’24 wrote in a message to the Collegian.

Once the singers themselves filed in, the room teemed with excitement over the show to come. Most of the Kokes were wearing their classic concert suits and ties; however, three members of the group — Gefen Bar-Cohen ’25, Yiling Hu ’27 and Conor Kennealy ’27 — stood out from the others because instead of sporting normal ties, they had on other neck gear in the form of a flamingo, clownfish and watermelon. Per newbie tradition, each new member of the Kokosingers has to wear an alternative tie for the beginning of the concert because they aren’t official members of the a cappella group yet.

As the noise from the crowd died down, Orth gave the group the starting notes of the first song “In My Room” by The Beach Boys. This song set the tone for the rest of the concert, with the Kokes’ strong dynamics and catchy harmonies. 

The first solo performance was to “Love Yourself” by Justin Bieber, soloed by Benjamin Priestland ’27. Priestland himself gets compared to Justin Bieber for his impressive vocal talent and hairstyle, and this solo showcased both. The opening notes of the song were met with hollers and claps from the crowd.

The next two songs were in complete contrast to each other, as “Mr. Blue” by The Fleetwoods switched to “A Summer Song” by Chad and Jeremy. The first was filled with staccato notes in a minor key and soloist Oliver Giraud ’27 carried the soft melody with confidence and smooth rhythmic style. “We do get to choose our solos and all take input and suggestion from the group as a whole. I think this semester my favorite songs were my solo, ‘Mr. Blue’ by The Fleetwoods and our opener. Choosing our solos is always a fun night — we meet and listen to great music and determine which songs work best for our concert,” Oliver Giraud ’27 wrote in a message to the Collegian.

The following song was “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” from the movie “Mulan,” which was both a crowd and Kokosinger favorite. While the group began the song together, the newbies burst their way to the front microphone shortly after the song began, accompanied by cheers and laughter from the audience. “It was a new experience for me to sing a musical-theater-style solo in front of a bunch of my friends and teammates. I figured that if I sang confidently and made people laugh (in a good way), it would be a success,” Bar-Cohen wrote in an email to the Collegian.

However, the newbie solos weren’t done quite yet, because another Kokes tradition is for them to write and perform a song with the word ‘cowboy’ for their final rite of passage. Prior to the concert, the three newbies held a rehearsal where they decided the style in which they would sing the song. Bar-Cohen explained, “We wrote it in about 10 minutes and spent a few minutes polishing it after every rehearsal. We wanted to run it by the other members, but every time we sang it for them, they’d yell at us for ruining the surprise.”

The melodies and style of the songs varied throughout the Kokes’ entire performance. From pop to jazz to country, the group embodied everything that one could possibly want out of an a cappella concert experience. One of the last songs of the concert was “Beyond the Sea” by Charles Trenet and soloed by Orth. The calming song highlighted both Orth’s smooth voice and the rest of the tenor-bass group blending together. “As a senior, this performance was a little nearer to my heart than the others since it was pretty much my last one. Although I was the senior music director, there are so many other things that the group did during rehearsals and behind the scenes to ensure the group’s success musically and otherwise, so I attribute all of our success to them. They helped make my last concert amazing and I couldn’t ask for a better group to sing with!” Orth said.

The performance ended with the age-old traditional song of the Kokes, the “Kokosing Farewell.” Before the beloved song, Sam Morris ’25, president of the Kokosingers, invited past members of the group to join the current members in the song. The Kokes were joined by a couple of previous members in a heartwarming rendition of the classic. While this was the last performance of the Kokes this academic year, the Hill should stay tuned for more singing, suits and swagger from the group post-summer break.

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