On Saturday Feb. 18, the Great American Singles Project, a satirical concert of anti-love songs presented by the Great American Songbook Project (GASP), occurred in the Red Door. GASP, a group that is still quite young, was conceived and founded by Sarah Gordin ‘21 in 2018 as a musical ensemble dedicated to celebrating musical styles from the 1920s to the 1960s.
The Great American Singles Project, as a concert, has been around since before the COVID-19 lockdown, with the first iteration taking place in the Fireside Lounge in February, 2019.
“I love that everything we do is from the great American songbook era but we can still find outlets for individuality for what we do.”-Abigail Schechter ’24
The event featured two songs performed by the full ensemble, an arrangement of “Cry Me a River,” written by Arthur Hamilton and by staff accompanist Vincent Trovato, and an a cappella arrangement of “Orange Colored Sky,” originally written by Milton Delugg and Willie Stein. There were also a number of soloists and duettists, some of whom were accompanied by Trovato, while others used pre-recorded instrumental tracks.
“I love that everything we do is from the great American songbook era but we can still find outlets for individuality for what we do,” explained Assistant Musical Director Abigail Schechter ‘24. “And regardless of what we do, everyone is able to come together to put on something magical and bring the Muhlenberg community together.”
GASP allowed the audience to experience a diverse array of music, including selections from the Rays, Tom Lehrer, Rodgers & Hammerstein, Marvin Gaye and even more artists.
“The thing I love about this group is that it has a lot of possibilities to take on so many different songs and styles from the period, and I think the music is at the center of why we love the group so much,” said Zach Kleiman ‘25, the current musical director of GASP. “It’s a very special era, and the array of material allows us to assemble performances in a way that’s goofy and fun.”
One of the most poignant aspects of this concert in particular was that some members had performed in the very first “The Great American Singles Project,” while others were experiencing it for the very first time, and the willingness to share in the joy was apparent throughout the entirety of the space, from the performers to the audience members.
“This being my first concert as a group member, I had a great time,” said Joe Grisanzio ‘23. “The audience was great, and it reminded me how much I love this genre of music.”
“It’s a very special era, and the array of material allows us to assemble performances in a way that’s goofy and fun.”-Zach Kleiman ’25
Toward the end of the performance, Kleiman made an announcement to the audience that auditions for both vocalists and instrumentalists would be taking place over the course of the week of Feb. 20, and that group member Anna Holmwood ‘24 would be stationed by the set of pool tables in the back of the space, holding an audition signup sheet.
“It’s been really fun to see the group go from a group of friends to a fully organized club over these past four years. And this concert marks the first of hopefully many as an established club,” said former musical director and former president Josh Freeman ‘23.