Yale Spizzwinks[?] will make first visit to MHS

By the end of their college experience, a group of 17 young men will have traveled all over the world, from the White House, to Carnegie Hall, to the homes of European ambassadors. In the midst of their busy travel schedule, they will be making a pit stop here in Coos Bay. On Jan. 7, the Marshfield auditorium will open its doors to returning alumnus Markus Boesl, a 2010 graduate, and the a cappella choral group, the Yale Spizzwinks(?).

The Spizzwinks(?), the first college a cappella group ever, started in 1914 and are now one of 15 subgroups on Yale’s campus. According to Boesl, they will be celebrating their 100-year anniversary next year, which he said is very exciting.

“We call ourselves a ‘brotherhood,’” Boesl said.  “We spend a lot of time together traveling, rehearsing, singing concerts, and we become really tight. I would definitely say that I have made some of my best friends at Yale through the Spizzwinks(?).”

Boesl is in his third year at Yale, and as a custom, the Spizzwinks(?) do a tour where they visit the home towns of all of the junior boys. This year, it is his turn. They will be traveling from California, up through Oregon to Washington. The Spizzwinks(?) perform three different tours; the winter tour is domestic, the spring tour is half domestic and half international and their summer tour is completely international.

During their years spent in the group, the Spizzwinks(?) promise their members that they will visit all six inhabited continents. They have traveled as far away as Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Brazil and many European countries. This year they will be traveling throughout Asia and the Caribbean.

“Probably my favorite concert memory is in Belgium. We spent the day working with a girls’ choir and that evening, after they let us sample all the famous Belgian beers, we did a big concert for the town in the local church,” Boesl said. “Even though most of us could say little more than ‘Bonjour,’ we made this awesome connection with the audience, and we had to perform four encores for them.”

Besides the world travel, Boesl said there are many other aspects he has enjoyed about being involved in the program, including their variety of music, which ranges from traditional Yale songs to artists such as Michael Jackson.

“We think singing the same type of music all the time can get very boring, so we try to mix it up,” Boesl said.

While traveling, the Spizzwinks(?) not only give performances, but also do vocal workshops with local choral groups. While in Coos County, they will be working with the Marshfield choir and the North Bend High School choir.

Aron Boesl, Markus’ father, said he is excited not only for their performance, but for the experience the students involved in the choir program will get from working with the Spizzwinks(?).

“I think it’s just a great opportunity for students at Marshfield to be able to rub shoulders with kids that have done well in school and hear about their experiences and maybe even get the vision that this is what they want to do after high school,” Aron Boesl said. “It’s just a very rich experience for them.”

Getting into the a cappella group is not easy. Although Boesl claims the auditioning process was a friendly environment, one must have an extensive background in music.

North Bend High School choir director Ken Graber, formerly the MHS and Sunset Middle School director, said he remembered teaching Boesl in choir, from the time Boesl was shorter than him to towering above years later. According to Graber, everyone could see Boesl had potential as a boy in middle school.

“Sometimes you can just see stage presence,” Graber said. “You can just tell by the way they act that they love performing, and in a middle school kid, if there is someone who’s willing to act out and be bold, you know that’s going to be a great strength for them later on. And Markus had that right from the beginning.”

Nate Barnett, the Spizzwinks(?) music director, has been involved in the group since fall of 2010. He said one of the best qualities of the Spizzwinks(?) is their ability to mix a high level of musicianship with entertaining humor and performance.

“From jazz standards, to pop-rock ballads and raucous skits, it is our goal to make every concert an engaging and enriching experience,” Barnett said.

Boesl said he has gained many skills in learning to work well and more effectively with other people while with the Spizzwinks(?).

“We sing about 100 concerts a year, and it is so fun to share our music with people all around the country and the world,” Boesl said. “We travel a lot, and it is so awesome to be in an exciting place with 17 of your best friends. It’s a really unique and incredible experience.”