On the fourth episode of “Brendan’s Opinion,” Brendan Teehan (CAS ’25) recalls his experience at the 2023 Cherry Tree Massacre, the Georgetown Chimes’ annual a cappella performance. Teehan followed the Chimes from Lohrfink Auditorium to their famed blue house, wondering out loud whether there should be an age limit for alumni to return to their alma mater’s a cappella group.
Brendan Teehan (BT): Hi, my name is Brendan, and please stop comparing yourself to Sisyphus. You’re literally a CULP Major. This is Brendan’s Opinion.
BT: Hello, everyone, to another installment of this podcast that has somehow become a recurrent aspect of The Hoya’s output somehow. I, I don’t know why people have been sticking with me. But either way, welcome to anyone who’s new. Welcome back to any non-first-time readers. But I just wanted to take the time today to talk about a subject that’s near and dear to my heart, in what I would like to call an open letter to Chimes alumni over the age of 30.
For those of you who aren’t acquainted, this past Saturday was the final installment of this year’s Cherry Tree Massacre, a DC-wide a cappella concert hosted by the Georgetown Chimes. Although this performance cycle was disrupted by a few roadblocks, not the least of which being burst pipes in Gaston Hall, the concert went on without a hitch thanks to last minute booking of Lohrfink Auditorium in Hariri, because nothing says “an a cappella rendition of Back to Black” like the McDonough School of Business.
As a member of the Georgetown Saxatones and an unashamed fan of college a cappella, I went to Lohrfink on Friday and Saturday knowing I couldn’t miss what was going to be, for me, the performances of the year. Like usual, all Georgetown groups did what they needed to do. Some highlights for this contributor include the Phantoms’ arrangement of “The Way” by Ariana Grande, Superfood’s rendition of “Pray You Catch Me,” lead track off of Beyoncé’s Lemonade, might I, add just a few weeks after competing at the international championship of collegiate a cappella.
And all of this was rounded out by a standing-ovation-worthy performance, quite literally I was on my feet, of “She Used To Be Mine” from Waitress by none other than the Georgetown Chimes. But I’m not writing this episode just to sing the praises of my fellow undergrads because if you think my night ended with those final Chimes bows on Lohrfink, you’re sorely mistaken.
To tell the full story of Cherry Tree Massacre, we need to walk across campus down the Lau steps and up one block on Prospect Street where we arrive on the front steps of the Chimes’ House, which is an apartment owned and operated by senior members of the Georgetown Chimes, if you’re not already acquainted with it, which at this point, how does anyone not know about the Chimes’ House? But after Saturday’s concert, the Saxotones decided to take a group visit to the Chimes’ House, which, on a Saturday night, is more often than not filled to the brim with freshmen.
Well, imagine our surprise when the Saxatones enter through the Chimes’ back gate and come face-to-face with what could only be described as a 50-year-old all-male a cappella enthusiast.
Okay, so some needed context: every Cherry Tree Massacre, the Chimes invite their former alums to come sing with them. But keep in mind, the Georgetown Chimes have been active since the year 1946. And as an organization with over 250 alumni, many of them flocked to DC from their disparate parts of the United States en masse for this one night to relive their glory days of… barbershopping, I guess?
At the end of this concert on Saturday, Chime number 275— oh, did I mention all of them are numbered? — calls all Chimes alumni onto the stage to sing a repertoire song and the Georgetown Fight Song. From the other side of the auditorium, I see a stampede of 100+ adult men, clad in blue suits and brown Oxford shoes, rushing the stage. Well, I mean, as quickly as these men can rush, in their current state. And with no conductor, no arranging on the stage and only one starting note from our current musical director or as they call it, the Ephus. It’s like a Latin word; I tried to look it up, it didn’t have a definition.
Anyway, they start singing a fully-memorized, five-part harmony rendition of the university fight song, which is already a lot, but it’s so uniform that it almost feels scary at times to listen to. And it just makes you wonder, “How did all of this get organized?” Or are all of these men, aging in range from 18 to 80, just born knowing the songs? All of this is to be determined. But anyway, back to the Chimes’ House.
The night mostly went on as it normally does— you know, general socializing, dancing to hits of the early 2000s, an insanely long line to the single available bathroom and like 1000 college-age a cappella fans— I know the perfect elements for a rager right. But every few minutes, there’d be this very sobering moment when I looked down to the concrete floor of the Chimes’ basement to see those same brown Oxfords followed by some khakis from The Gap, a navy blue quarter zip over a checkered button-down, all topped with like a salt and pepper smart haircut. And I couldn’t help but ask, “Why is there a grown man in front of me?”
And these men weren’t just like keeping to their own little clique. They were everywhere, playing cornhole with the current Chimes, in line for the singular bathroom, chatting up men and women who could easily be their children. Oh, well, I just wrote yikes in parentheses after that last one.
But as a contributor for The Hoya, I’m not here to squash anyone’s good time. If, as a 40-year-old with a 401k and a crippling mortgage, your definition of a good time is the Chimes’ House on a Saturday night, hey, who am I to judge? But if I could put a summative statement on my perspective of that night, it would be this: in the year 2050, if anyone ever sees my location is the intersection of 37th and Prospect, know that it’s time to sit me down and help me reassess my priorities.
BT: This podcast was hosted by your local Chimes’ apologist Brendan Teehan. It was edited by David Yang, and it was produced by Amna Shamim. I want to thank The Hoya for again giving me a platform to talk about college a cappella, which I’ve done already, but I’m not going to stop. And I hope to see you next week for another installment of Brendan’s Opinion. Peace.
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