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Student spotlight: The community that Proscenium has offered these first year students

A cappella plays an important role in the arts community at Brandeis, with multiple groups representing different genres and themes of music. One of Brandeis’ many a cappella groups, Proscenium, specializes in musical theatre and Disney songs. Proscenium won the “Relay For Life” singing competition a few weeks ago, when three Brandeis a cappella groups performed for the opportunity to sing at the Luminaria Ceremony for this year’s upcoming Relay For Life fundraiser in April. First-year members of Proscenium, Adam Fleishaker ’21, a tenor in the group, and Sam Forman ’21, a baritone and bass in the group, spoke about their experience at the competition in an interview with The Brandeis Hoot. “It was a great experience because we were going to help people in a way as we put ourselves there. It was also great to make people have a good time with a cappella,” Fleishaker reflects. Forman added, “It was my first performance with the group too, so I was excited and nervous, but mostly excited.”

Both Forman and Fleishaker reflected on what it is like to be a first year student in an a cappella group. Fleishaker first joined Proscenium in the fall of this year. He wanted to join an a cappella group right away and knew that Proscenium would be a good fit because he had been interested in musical theatre ever since he was a kid. “Instead of buying jewelry, my mom bought Broadway tickets. It has always been her jam and by extension its been my jam,” he said. Fleishaker auditioned for other groups back in the fall and received callbacks, but felt a connection with Proscenium when auditioning for them and immediately cancelled all of his other callbacks. He knew it was the group he wanted to perform with.

Fleishaker convinced Forman to consider auditioning this semester, and Forman quickly agreed with his friend’s assessment. “The instant vibe I got when I walked into the room was just so nice and familial,” Forman said. “I tried out for a bunch of a cappella groups beginning of the semester, but didn’t get into any of them because I wasn’t really trying. I was more interested in the idea of trying out for improv, and I thought improv was the only performing arts group that I would do. One night, a few of our friends were talking about how we were going to try out for Proscenium, so Adam was like ‘Hey Sam you should try out why not you’re a good singer,’” he explained.

Forman prepared for the audition over break and got a callback, something he was not expecting, and went into the callbacks feeling much more confident. The moment he found out that he got into the group was really exciting, he said. “I literally started jumping through my hallway screaming with my friends and busted down the hallway screaming ‘friends! I just got into Proscenium!’ I was just jumping up and down the entire time,” he said.

Fleishaker found his passion for singing in 10th grade, when he got involved with his high school’s production of West Side Story. Forman, however, has been singing his whole life, and came from a musical family. The only other real point in his life where he would sing “professionally,” he explained, was in his middle school chorus. “I am a very happy person, so I like a song where you can put a lot of emotion into it,” he said. One of his favorite songs to sing is “Gotta Get Back To Hogwarts,” a Harry Potter parody musical song. He also enjoyed performing “Goodbye Song,” which is more somber and a little melancholy. The song is powerful and emotional, however, allowing the singer to convey the real strength of the song. Forman enjoys singing all types of music, though. “I like singing really loud political punk rock or I will sing a really quiet acoustic or broadway or something on a movie soundtrack. I have a huge range of music that I listen to,” he said.

“It is so nice to see the newbies step into Proscenium because this group is a place where we hold high esteem,” Fleishaker said. Both Fleishaker and Forman have great respect for all of the hard work the club’s E-Board members put in. “Everybody here is absolutely wonderful. One of the things I was worried about coming in was how well I might gel because I have to warm up and get more comfortable with groups, but instantly I felt like I was just able to come in and just be myself,” Forman said. “Everyone has helped me and the rest of the newbies to feel super welcomed and a part of the family that Proscenium really is.”

For Fleishaker, the best part of Proscenium is the passion students bring in performing such a broad array of music. People practice outside of rehearsal in their dorms, and when they come back to rehearsal, their sound has improved immensely.

“It is also really cool to see how diverse the academic interests of the group are, because one thing that I expected with most a cappella groups, especially with Proscenium, that it would music majors and theatre majors exclusively, but everyone has different kinds of majors,” he said.

“Everyone is there for a reason because we all love doing this and we all want everyone else to succeed and do better.” All of the songs that Proscenium performs are from a Proscenium library, so the group does not just pull the sheet music from a musical. The group writes it to fit all of the voice parts. “I am going to have a solo eventually,” Fleishaker said. “Either I have to arrange it or someone in the group will arrange it for me. However, it is amazing that we all get the experience of arranging music and coming to terms and grips with how that process goes because it really gives us a much broader understanding of it,” he contemplated.

Fleishaker hopes to major in computer science and business, while Forman hopes to major in history. They both agree Proscenium has allowed them to explore outside the world of their academic interests and broaden their college experience with seven hours each week of artistic community. They look forward to the next three years as they have this secure community of passionate artists to dedicate themselves too. They hope that one day they will take positions on the club’s E-Board.

If you are interested in checking out their upcoming performances, they regularly post on their Facebook page. They also post their performances on their YouTube channel.

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