History

HOW IT ALL BEGAN…

” I was sitting in Morriss wondering how I could meet more freshmen and I thought to myself, ‘hey, I’ll start an a cappella group!’ Little did I know that my college experience would be defined by the fond memories I have of the time I spent performing and hanging out with Harmonic Motion,” says Alia Santini ’00, the group’s founder.

The group started in 1996 when Alia recruited six other musical freshmen through “units” and phone calls. Gabe Shapiro ’00 played a pivotal role at this point by recruiting the guys of the group. They called themselves “The Freshmen 15.” With no previous a cappella experience, the group spent their time arranging songs in the cubicles of Steinert. Jason Blumenkrantz ’00 took over the musical direction and led the group with his arranging and percussion skills. April 30, 1997 marked their public debut with the “Mission:Impossible” arch sing.

By 1997, the group had almost doubled in size and slowly they found their place in the Brown a cappella scene. The group progressed because of the strong friendship among its members. Their personality got them far and their determination resulted in the release of their first album “From the Ground Up.”

The CD marked a definite turning point in the group’s history. It gave them a reason to get out and perform and perform they did. With road trips to UPenn, NYU, Boston, and Columbia, the group became more and more visible. In the spring of 2000, they were selected to compete in the National Collegiate A Cappella Competition. Harmonic Motion won 1st place at the quarter-finals with a special distinction for “best vocal percussion” and Lauren Hynek took home a “best soloist” award at the semi-finals. The year 2000 also marked the graduation of all of Harmonic Motion’s founding members who stuck with it until the end.

2001 started a new chapter in Harmonic Motion’s history. The group took on eight new members over the course of the year, adding new ideas and new faces to the already strong talent base of the group. The fall was a transition of sorts, while the group developed new notions on where they were headed, never losing sight of the fun and friendship that made Harmonic Motion what it is. In the spring all the group’s dynamic energy and ideas came together with the release of their second CD, “Higher”. Building off the knowledge gained by making “From the Ground Up,” the CD soared to new heights of complex arrangements, energy, and great music. The CD release concert in April took the Brown community by storm, complete with two hilarious video presentations (masterminded by Chad Ebesutani ’03 and Doug Lincoln ’01), great skits, and lots of new songs, including a techno version of “Sweet Surrender” (The Better Off Alone Gersh-Remix). “It was the culmination of the year with Harmonic Motion for me,” says Doug Lincoln ’01. Jen Trebby ’01 adds, “I think the group today is stronger than ever.” Poignant words indeed as the graduated seniors pass the reins to the next generation of Harmos.

In the last ten years Harmonic Motion has become a veritable a cappella force at Brown and
joined its neighbors on College Hill – the group is now about half RISD and half Brown students. In 2005 Harmo released it’s third CD, titled “Unzipped.” Their most recent 2008 release “Precious Harmoments” has hits like Helplessly Hoping by Crosby,
Stills, Nash & Young, and Breathe by Anna Nalick.

Harmonic Motion has come a long way from those days spent in the Steinert rehearsal space, with new members, several new CD’s, and a stronger presence on campus that keeps growing. The group has emerged as the foremost co-ed group at Brown (and RISD!). To this day, friendship and a passion for making music is what makes Harmonic Motion more than just an a cappella group. It makes it an experience that bonds its members together long after Brown.

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