Beatlemore Skidmania in high demand

Posted by Mariel Kennedy

George Harrison once said, "As far as I am concerned, there won't be a Beatles reunion as long as John Lennon remains dead." Though the Beatles will not be reuniting anytime soon, Skidmore students, faculty and members of the Saratoga Springs community can commemorate and honor the "Fab Four" on Sunday, Nov. 21 at Skidmore's 10th annual Beatlemore Skidmania.

This year's Beatlemore is a year of anniversaries and introductions. Not only the 10th anniversary of the event, which was started by music professor and Beatles scholar Gordon Thompson, but this year Beatlemore will also commemorate John Lennon and Ringo Starr's 70th birthdays, the 50 years since the Beatles went to Hamburg, the 40 years since their breakup and the 30 years since Lennon's assassination. In addition, the event will showcase the Arthur Zankel Music Center's new concert halls.

Thompson's first-year seminar class was given the task of planning and organizing this year's Beatlemore. "They've been great. They've had wonderful ideas and all have dedicated time outside class to designing posters, auditioning performers and selling tickets. I think it's been a great learning experience for them," Thompson said.

Beatlemore began in 2001 when Thompson's Beatles Seminar wanted to put on a concert of Beatles' music performed by student bands and faculty members. Despite little advertising, the event was a major success. Since then, Beatlemore has evolved into one of the biggest events on campus. The renditions range from a capella variations to string quartets.

"Educationally, Skidmania provides an opportunity for students to directly engage with material and make it their own. Here they enthusiastically take up the music of their own accord, work out their arrangements, rehearse their performances and put on their show," Thompson said.

Amanda Boehmer, concerts and events manager at Zankel, reasons that the Beatles resonate with everyone. "The Beatles are just timeless and relevant and meaningful no matter how old you are or what your socioeconomic class is. The music is just simply fun," Boehmer said.

This is also a year of firsts for the event. For the first time, Beatlemore will be held in Zankel. This move will both accommodate more audience members and allow additional students and Saratogians to see the new concert hall.

Beatlemore will also be a ticketed event for the first time. "In the past, it was first-come, first-seated. This year, everyone will have a seat. That transition process has some kinks in it, but we have learned and established some new benchmarks," Thompson said.

High demand for tickets led to the decision to add a second showing. "The 200 seats for faculty, staff and the public sold out in less than 15 minutes. This prompted the decision to add a same, second performance. Public tickets for this showing sold out in less than one day, and we are very close to selling out all student tickets," Boehmer said.

Beatlemore is a two-day event. On Saturday, Nov. 20 a panel of experts will lead a discussion on different Beatles-related topics. The panel will feature Allan Kozinn, a NY Times music critic and author, Tim Riley, author of "Tell Me Why" and Jonathan Gould, author of "Can't Buy Me Love." This event is free. Tickets for the concert on Sunday are $3 for students and $5 for the public.

Proceeds from the event will go to local charity Saratoga Cares - an outreach program that supports Saratoga's food pantries. Thompson's seminar students chose this charity because they "wanted to give something to the Saratoga community," Thompson said.

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