If you’ve ever been wandering the Oregon State University Memorial Union on a Friday evening, you might have seen them.
Or, more importantly, heard them.
Most Fridays throughout the school term at OSU, the university’s three a cappella groups gather on the steps of the grand entryway of the Memorial Union for informal concerts at 5 p.m.
Current members of Outspoken, a men’s group, Divine, a women’s group, and Power Chord, a co-ed group, say they aren’t sure how far back the tradition dates, but estimate at least a decade.
McKenna Albion, president of Power Chord and a marketing major, said the point of the Friday night concerts is to practice performing. Each group comes with a song or two. The audience mostly includes members of the groups not performing at that moment and their friends, although passersby often stop to listen.
“It’s less intense because it’s just for us,” she said.
Albion said most groups practice about four hours a week, and having the concerts is a way to keep themselves accountable, but in a setting where it’s OK to make mistakes.
“It is super low stakes. That’s why we do it, to work the kinks out,” Albion said.
The groups perform at competitions and do shows at games, campus events and retirement centers, Albion said, and the Friday night concerts help them prepare for those.
Tasnia Kabir, a computer science major and Power Chord member, said students participate in a cappella groups because they have a passion for music.
“Some of us don’t get to sing as much as we did in high school, and we really miss it,” Kabir said. “It’s a commitment, but we wouldn’t do it if we weren’t having fun.”
Gregg Vineyard, a freshman studying music education and a member of Outspoken, said the Friday night concerts are a fun chance to perform for fellow musicians.
“It’s so great to hear all the groups. Every Friday they just bring something stellar. ... We’ve been working hard, and they’ve been working hard, so it’s good to come together and show off,” he said.
Austin Benage, a chemical engineering student in Power Chord, said the Friday concerts are a fun break from the demands of school.
“It’s a good relief from chemical engineering. With it not being science-based, I get to come out here and turn off that part of my brain.”