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Beatlemore Skidmania 13: A tradition continues

November 11, 2013

Beatlemore Skidmania 13: A tradition continues

Nov. 11, 2013

The phenomenon known as Beatlemania followed the 1963 release of two albums and four singles by the Beatles, who were poised 50 years ago to rock the world.

This month, Skidmore musicians will perform those early tunes during Beatlemore Skidmania 13 on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 22 and 23, in the Arthur Zankel Music Center. The show annually features a mix of a cappella groups, rock bands, and acoustic acts, and their often strikingly original interpretations of Beatles repertoire.


Performances are scheduled at 8 p.m. Nov. 22, and at 2 and 8 p.m. Nov. 23. All three shows are sold out; but the Saturday-night show will be streamed live over the web via this link.

The music, interpreted and performed by Skidmore students and faculty, draws crowds to this event, and this year will not disappoint. The program will feature selections from the albums Please Please Me and With the Beatles, and the singles: Please Please Me, With Love from Me to You, She Loves You, and I Want to Hold Your Hand. (Please click here to see the program lineup.)

Said music Professor Gordon Thompson, “Beatlemore 13, in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the rise of Beatlemania in the UK and the release of their second and distinctive album With the Beatles, will feature repertoire that comes entirely from 1963, revealing the Beatles to be devotees of Motown, R&B, rock and roll, and even show tunes.  In one of the great ironies of the 60s, the release date (22 November 1963) was also the day of JFK’s assassination.  We will acknowledge that anniversary, even as we celebrate the promise and energy of youth.”

Gordon Thompson by Charlie Samuels
Gordon Thompson (photo by Charlie Samuels)

Thompson, an expert on British pop music, is the Skidmore professor who has helmed each Beatlemore concert. He explained, “It began when students in my 2001 Beatles seminar asked to put on a collective performance of some of the music we had been studying.  In a few short years, the event became one of the most anticipated of the year, with audiences exceeding capacity during the years we performed in Filene Recital Hall.”

He continued, “When we moved into Zankel, we quickly sold out the 600 seats of Ladd Hall and had to add concerts.”

In recent years, there has also been a livestream on the web via the Skidmore web site to reach Skidmore alumni around the world. There will be viewing parties for alumni in New York City and Boston, as well as a number of alumni gatherings at private homes. Boston-area alumni are welcome at Champions Sports Bar, Boston Marriott Copley Place, from 7 to 10:30 p.m. Nov. 23, while New York City alums are invited from 7 to 10:30 p.m. Nov. 23 at the Playwright Irish Pub, 27 West 35th St. Admission to both pubs is $10 per person. T-shirts and posters designed by students will be available for sale at each event. For more information, please contact the College's Alumni Office at 518-580-5610.

According to Thompson, Beatlemore Skidmania now functions as a lab for a small group of students (this year, seven) who recruit and audition student performers, form the program, evaluate poster and T-shirt designs created by Deb Hall’s “Communication Design II” class, market the concerts, and sell the merchandise.  And, of course, some of these students will be in the concert.

The proceeds of the ticket, poster, and T-shirt sales on Friday night and Saturday afternoon go to Skidmore Cares. Thompson said that it has been “impressive” to see how strongly the student coordinators embrace this aspect of the event. “They see raising money to support regional school children, a rape and domestic-violence crisis center, a hospice, and other programs as doing something great for the community,” he noted. The proceeds from Saturday night’s Skidmore show will contribute to student financial aid at the college. 

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This year will also mark the official end of the “Stamp Out the Beatles” club, founded almost 50 years ago in Detroit, Mich. Peter Murphy, president of the club, will attend the Saturday night concert and renounce the office he has held since December 1963. 

According to a Detroit Free Press article (February 1989), “Murphy was a handsome, dark-haired relatively innocent University of Detroit senior when he was approached in December 1963 by Titan publicist Bill Rabe, who said that he was starting a club to stamp out the Beatles, and he needed a president for the organization.”

 “Who are the Beatles?” Murphy reportedly asked. The Free Press notes, “By February, he was the scourge of Beatles fans everywhere, especially in Detroit.” At their first U.S. press conference, the Beatles were asked about the club. One of them remarked that they were going to start a campaign to stamp out Detroit.

Although the Saturday night concert is reserved for Skidmore audiences, the program may be viewed via live stream from the Skidmore College web site.

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