AU Singers Bring A Cappella Holiday to DC
Will Sing for Mood
Evan Petrone had no singing experience his freshman year. Now a senior, he’s performing holiday carols for the U.S. Secretary of Labor.
That’s because he’s joined On a Sensual Note, AU’s only all-male a cappella group. As the semester wraps up, the troupe of 16 students is bringing its vocal talents to the Washington, D.C., community, serenading everyone from retired military veterans and their families to downtown passersby.
What’s most impressive is that—in the stress of final exams and papers—Petrone and crew aren’t belting out tunes for bucks but, instead, just to spread holiday cheer.
“The community stuff is really one of our favorite things to do,” Petrone, the group’s business manager, said. “People really appreciate it. . . . It’s fun for us to go out and perform. It’s just a positive thing that people enjoy.”
Aside from packing the Kay Spiritual Life Center for its end-of-year show, OASN is volunteering its skills at Tenley WinterFest as well as in the residential buildings of The Colonnade, The Greenbriar, and Knollwood Military Retirement Residence.
The third-annual show for the Secretary of Labor is a private in-office gig.
Student Activities’ coordinator for program initiatives Katie Junot has served as advisor for the treblesome troubadours. She believes one factor in their success both on and off campus has been their support of so many other student groups.
“They’re one of the most visually represented [groups] on campus. . . . They’re always involved,” she said. “They exemplify what our performing arts groups are all about, which is building community around the arts.”
Not only that; they carry the AU spirit for community engagement wherever they go, especially when off campus grounds.
In that way, they’re AU’s most vocal ambassadors.
“We go out there and try to cast AU in the best light that we can through positive performances,” Petrone explained. “We have a lot of fun singing, and the audiences are great. It really is a collaborative effort with AU and the community.”
In turn, AU supports the group in efforts like its annual spring break tour, which last took them to Charleston, S.C., and impromptu street shows for crowds of up to 60 people. They’re hoping to bring tunes like “Little Saint Nick” and “Frosty the Snowman” in similar fashion to D.C.’s Chinatown before break.
Working on its seventh studio album, OASN finds itself well sought after, with about 10 shows each semester. They’ve taken full advantage of studying in D.C. by performing at both the National Cherry Blossom Festival and the National Portrait Gallery.
“It’s always through referrals that we’re getting new gigs,” Petrone said. “So, that’s a really positive portion of the networking experience.”
With some 65 alumni and current members—many of whom remain in D.C.—the group’s own professional network is growing, as members go on to pursue careers in communication as well as public and international service.
On a Personal Note
Aside from their meticulous melodies, Junot thinks that the OASN singers typify what so many AU students find at the university—values.
“They’re our only all-male a cappella group, and a lot of them are also Greeks. Those instilled values in our Greek community carry into their other activities,” she said. “That’s definitely one of their driving forces…They can bring those values to the community.”
Still, in the heat of finals, Petrone and the bass in his voice explain that the music comes down to simply decompressing and enjoying time with friends.
“Music for me has always been the greatest escape and such a relaxation technique,” he said. “At the end of my day I can go hang out with these 15 guys who are my closest friends and just sing. . . . It’s like a mental health thing for me.”
Catch On a Sensual Note at Tenley WinterFest on Saturday, Dec. 7, at 2:30 p.m.
For more events, find OASN on Facebook.