Eight Beat Measure celebrates 25 years

A cappella group commemorates its 25th anniversary with show

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Kiki Dent

RIT’s original all-male a cappella group, Eight Beat Measure, is in its 25th year.

Eight Beat Measure, RIT’s original all-male a cappella group, turns 25 years old this year. To celebrate, the group is hosting its annual spring show, Chill Beats, in conjunction with its alumni weekend.

The members of the group hope that Chill Beats will be one of the best a cappella shows ever held at RIT. In addition to a performance by Eight Beat Measure, the show will feature Men in Drag, an all-female a cappella group from University of Chicago, and Musae, a professional female vocal ensemble. To honor Eight Beat Measure’s alumni, there will also be small performances by various groups of alumni. Chill Beats is at 8 p.m. today in Ingle Auditorium in the Student Alumni Union at RIT. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door.

“The quality of the show is higher than anything you can see on campus,” says Jack Kelleher, a second-year tenor in Eight Beat Measure. “It’s absolutely going to blow you away.”

The group began in 1987 as the RIT Men’s Octet and quickly grew from traditional a cappella singers into a nationally recognized contemporary group. Earlier this year, Eight Beat Measure placed third at the International Competition for Collegiate A Cappella Mid-Atlantic Semifinal. Kelleher attributes the group’s success to the past and present members’ desire to continually improve.

“We pride ourselves on our connection with our alumni,” he says. “They put us where we are now, and they’re just as proud as we are.”

As part of the ongoing celebration of the group’s alumni, Eight Beat Measure will also perform at the Imagine RIT: Innovation and Creativity Festival at 12:50 p.m. Saturday, outdoors on Stage 1 in the Infinity Quad.

The group, which has two studio albums, performs at numerous events on and off RIT’s campus as well as competitions across the country. The goal of the group, however, isn’t just to win competitions, according to Kelleher.

“We want to open people’s eyes to a cappella as an art form,” he says. “We strive to get our audiences to experience music in a style they’ve never heard before.”

Kelleher says the group is also about brotherhood. “We aren’t music majors, we aren’t doing this for a living,” he says. “It’s our passion.”

Steve Haber, a 2009 alumnus of RIT and a former member of the group, also says the group is about making connections. “It was tough being in college not knowing anybody and being away from family, but Eight Beat changed that for me,” he says. “Now the group has evolved into even more than it was when I left. Here’s to 25 more years.”