Buffers Open for Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall

The Hamilton College Buffers traveled to New York City to sing at Radio City Music Hall on Sunday, Dec. 17, to open the 5 p.m. performance of the tremendously popular Christmas Spectacular, starring the Radio City Rockettes. We performed an arrangement by Carter Sanders ’18 of Donny Hathaway’s “This Christmas” in the 6,015-seat theater.

A representative from Radio City Music Hall reached out to the Buffers in November after watching videos of some of our past performances on YouTube. She invited our group to participate in the new “Sounds of Christmas” program that brings choirs and other a cappella groups to the largest indoor theater in the world to open for the Christmas Spectacular show.

It seemed as though the opportunity materialized in an instant; we promptly agreed, of course, and Sanders completed an arrangement of “This Christmas,” featuring soloist Christopher Victor ’21, in just one night.

After a month of tedious rehearsal and vocal workshopping, “This Christmas” was performance-ready. We left the stress of finals week behind us, and set out from the Hill, a caravan of crooners, bound for my house in Princeton, N. J., where we stayed Saturday night. We left Princeton early Sunday morning and arrived at Radio City Music Hall at 3:30 p.m.

The representative with whom we had been in contact escorted us through security. We ran through our song twice, trying to calm our excited nerves and focus on staying on pitch and performing dynamically. At 4:20 p.m. we were led to the left wing of the theater, where we gained a fuller appreciation for the space. The walls of brilliant red and orange loom cavernously over the massive stage, the size of one full city block.

The time had come. A month of preparation raced through our minds as we shuffled backstage. The nervousness left us as we strode onto the stage and into one of the most surreal experiences of our lives. We gathered around the microphone and looked out into the theater, taking in the big crowds and bright lights.

The mezzanines and balconies stretch so far away from the stage that the upper reaches of the theater lose their visual depth. I had the impression that we were about to perform to an enormous panoramic photograph. “We’re definitely not in the Chapel anymore,” I thought to myself.

We got plenty of applause, not to mention recognition from people as we walked to our seats. We delivered a performance that all of us were very happy with, and just like that, it was over. All of that preparation for three exhilarating minutes!

 It was worth every second. “We’re so glad to have been offered this opportunity,” Buffers president Colin Horgan ’19 said. “We had a phenomenal time!” As the Buffers travel home this winter to enjoy a much-deserved break, we are greatly looking forward to singing with each other again in the spring.

Happy holidays,

Matt Lebowitz ’18 and the Buffers

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