A Weekend in the Life: A Performer's Account of Beatlemore Skidmania
This weekend, I had the opportunity to perform with the Klezmer Band in this year’s Bealtemore Skidmania, a quintessential Skidmore show in which students showcase their interpretations of some of The Beatles' music. What started as an informal outgrowth of Professor Gordon Thompson’s “The Beatles” class has grown into a colossal event which usually sells out Helen Filene Ladd Concert Hall for all three performances. This was my first time performing in Beatlemore, and as someone who has wanted to be part of the show since I first saw it in 2015, I was beyond excited.
After much late-night rehearsing and last-minute stress, it was finally the weekend of the show. The weekend kicked off with a Friday afternoon soundcheck. For me, the entire soundcheck process was surreal. Although it wasn’t the first time I had performed on the Zankel stage, it was the first time I would be featured so prominently. Looking out over the empty auditorium as we rehearsed, I couldn’t believe all those seats would soon be filled with people.
And then there were the performances. I have been a part of quite a few concerts and recitals, but I have never been a part of something quite like Beatlemore. The sense of excitement, the palpable nervous anticipation, and the intense dedication of all the performers gave each show an air of undeniable vitality, particularly the evening performances. Even as someone who gets extremely nervous for performances, I couldn’t get enough of it.
For me, the weekend was full of firsts — particularly on Friday night. Performing was surreal, nerve-wracking, and electrifying all at once. After the first show, I couldn’t wait to do it twice more. Along with performing, I helped introduce another act (which I found to be almost as nerve-wracking as performing) and watched the show from bleachers set up on the stage. This was a strange and wonderful experience as well, and although I often wished I could hear what the bands sounded like from the audience, it was amazing to be so close to the performers. Being part of an audience of musicians was also incredible; we were all so intensely involved in the music, sometimes literally (on Saturday night, we all shouted “woo!” during the chorus of Campo’s rendition of “I am the Walrus”). Another memorable moment came when members of the Skidmore Circus Club performed right in front of us during Drobakid’s “For the Benefit of Mr. Kite!”
Another highlight for me was the show’s closing numbers, in which all performers got to run up onto the stage and embarrass ourselves with our overenthusiastic dance moves. This was a blast after all three performances, but it was particularly fun on Saturday night. Group efforts developed organically over the three shows, including the performers moving up from a crouch for the huge vocal build during “A Day in the Life” and a long Rockettes-style kicking line during “All You Need is Love.”
This year was also particularly significant for Beatlemore because Professor Gordon Thompson will be retiring this spring. This latest show marked the seventeenth year of Beatlemore’s existence, and Professor Thompson has been there to organize and oversee each one. Next year, Professor Joel Brown, a guitar instructor and fellow Beatlemore organizer, will be in charge. It was a bittersweet passing of the button, and was commemorated with an additional encore of “A Hard Day’s Night” by faculty band The Rust Brothers, which was thoroughly enjoyed by all.
Being part of Beatlemore was absolutely incredible. It was amazing to be surrounded by that much talent, dedication, and energy -- and I doubt I will never forget how meaningful the experience was. I will be forever grateful to Professor Thompson and his class for coming up with organizing this show, and all those who have been involved with Beatlemore this year and every year. Most of all, I am grateful to The Beatles, for creating unforgettable music that is known and loved by so many. Through continued performance, their songs are constantly changing, evolving, and being imbued with new life — here at Skidmore and all over the world.