HIGH FIVES — With the concert over, the Buffalo Chips members kept the fun going, with high fives to the entire student body as they went back to class. Photo by Larry Wroblewski.
NORTH COLLINS — The Buffalo Chips have been together for several years and have performed on a local and national level.
The ensemble from the State University of New York at Buffalo visited the North Collins School District on Jan. 24, performing and instructing for most of the day.
Elementary students were introduced to the variety of songs that can be handled with vocal harmony. Some of the tunes took on a new vibe, with voices only. “Africa,” “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” and, from the ‘70s, the seafarer’s “Brandy” were presented, as was a traditional barbershop quartet rendition of “Coney Island Baby.”
The young audience clapped along, cheered and laughed, especially when teacher Mark Skurzewski was called up and serenaded by the Buffalo Chips.
The group sported blue and white jerseys, the UB colors, complete with numbers and names on the back. From the outset, the Buffalo Chips soloed, harmonized, swiveled, jumped and added vocal imitations of a trumpet, drums and the beat box.
Following the gym performance, the Buffalo Chips lined the hallway, soliciting high fives from students, as the kids returned to class.
Their day continued with a workshop for the junior and senior high school choruses. North Collins singers learned the harmonies the Buffalo Chips use in a song, and had the chance to try them out.
The Buffalo Chips’ day at North Collins concluded with a paid, full-house public concert.
This was the fourth year that the Buffalo Chips have visited North Collins.
Each year, the group spends one week visiting local schools, which, this year, also included Blasdell, a charter school in Lackawanna, and Starpoint Central School.
Buffalo Chips member and digital media major Bobby Fera is a North Collins graduate and credited a school visit with his interest. “I come from a very musical family,” Fera said. “I saw the Buffalo Chips in my senior year and I had never heard of a capella music before. When I entered UB, the first thing I did was to find out how to audition for the [Buffalo] Chips.”
While Fera was inspired to continue singing in college, the Buffalo Chips’ influence was also part of the drive to create an all-male North Collins a capella group.
Chorus Director Jill Finkley said, “It has always been tough to get boys to participate in chorus, but to get our current number and to have an all-male a capella group now is amazing.”
The seven-member North Collins A Capella led off the Buffalo Chips’ evening performance.
Senior aeronautical engineering major Cory Mikida credited the musical experience he gained at Hamburg High School with his collegiate interest. Mikida operates as the front man for many of the Buffalo Chips’ musical selections and noted that none of the current members are music majors. “We do it because we love music,” he explained.
The Buffalo Chips and many similar groups around the nation are student-run, have no faculty advisor and do not get college credit for the work.
Mikida said that he has also enjoyed the traveling he and his song mates have been able to do, as they perform in various choral competitions. “We’ll be going to Michigan in a few weeks,” he said, and reflected on past excursions to places such as Boston and Potsdam.
Those who have not had the chance to hear the group will have the opportunity at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 22, when the Buffalo Chips perform at UB’s Slee Hall, together with the Royal Pitches in a Valentine’s Day show. Tickets will be sold in advance, as well as at the door.
The group’s newly released album is titled “Blue and White.” It was recorded during last year’s spring concert.
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