By Sue Wambolt, Community Advocate
Northborough – Algonquin Regional High School (ARHS) graduate Ben Rutan, a freshman at Dartmouth College, was selected as a member of the school's oldest a cappella group, the Aires. One of the nation's premiere performing ensembles, the group has been singing live, producing albums, and touring the country since they were founded in 1946. They were even named runner-up in the last season of NBC's “The Sing Off.”
Rutan began taking voice lessons in sixth grade and continued with until college. His talent earned him a spot on various ensembles in middle school and high school as well as local and state choirs.
Throughout high school, Rutan was part of the Massachusetts Music Educators Association (MMEA) district choir. In 9th, 11th, and 12th grade, he was also a part of the MMEA All-State choir. Additionally, in 11th grade, he auditioned for and made the American Choral Directors Association All-Eastern Choir. He traveled to Providence, R.I., and performed with singers anywhere from Maine to Pennsylvania. Outside of school, Rutan was part of the Saint Bernadette's contemporary choir as well as the Assabet Valley Mastersingers.
“My favorite part about singing,” offered Rutan, “is the opportunity to be part of a group that creates a cohesive sound far larger and powerful than any of its members. When everyone in a group is not only locked into their respective part, but is also listening to the overall balance, a pure, vibrant sound is created. This sound is both a crowd-pleaser and one that drives the ensemble to pour more energy into their work.”
After a great experience in high school with a cappella and watching his brother Pat's success as a member of the Yale Whiffenpoofs (the main all-male, all-senior group at Yale), Rutan knew that he wanted to continue a cappella in college.
“The opportunity to be part of a student-led music group is both rare and enriching. There was a large a cappella concert during orientation. Every group was sounded fantastic and I knew I wanted to be part of one. I was drawn to the Aires both by their diverse repertoire and long-standing traditions.”
After three rounds of try-outs, Rutan was selected as a member of the Aires. The group of 16 is incredibly tight-knit – constantly grabbing meals, studying, watching sporting events, or simply hanging out with one another.
“It is easy for me to say that I have found 15 of my best friends on campus through Aires,” shared Rutan. “There truly is no “outsider” in the group. Everyone in the Aires is heavily invested and is valued by every member.”
The Aires sing at a variety of venues both during the term and off-term. During the term, they sing at alumni events, local businesses and, occasionally, at other colleges. Occasionally they will drive to other colleges to participate in their shows. Additionally, the group sings quite a few times each term at some the fraternities on campus. When on tour, they typically sing at the Dartmouth clubs scattered around the country, at colleges, and at high schools, where they offer clinics.
While Rutan does not plan on majoring in music, he strongly motivated by his musical interests and is intent on always being involved with a musical activity of some sort.
Check out The Dartmouth Aires Youtube Channel to hear some of their newest songs at http://www.youtube.com/user/DartmouthAires or visit their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/DartmouthAiresSingOff.