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As the music director of his college a cappella group, Evan Barnathan learned valuable lessons about patience and communication, leadership and responsibility, and effective teamwork.

Now, the Tufts University School of Medicine student is spending his Schweitzer Fellowship year paying those lessons forward.

Barnathan partnered with Josiah Quincy Upper School (a high school in Boston’s Chinatown with no formal choral program) to launch an a cappella group that offers students the opportunity to both explore their musical creativity and develop positive self-identity and behaviors.

The results of their weekly rehearsals and private lessons have been striking.

“One particular student was unable to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ at the beginning of the year and progressed to be able to sing ‘Isn’t She Lovely’—quite an achievement,” says Barnathan (or “Mr. B,” as his students call him).

Indeed, the group (called Attuned) began the school year learning simple scales and pitch-matching exercises. But since then—thanks to weekly rehearsals and private lessons; field trips to performances featuring groups including the Tufts Beelzebubs (of NBC’s “The Sing Off” and the voices of the Warblers on “Glee”); and, most importantly, each others’ support—they have transformed into a formidable a cappella ensemble performing everything from pop to soul with pieces ranging from “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield to “Lean on Me” by Bill Withers.

Earlier this month, they even worked with a professional sound engineer—Alex Green of Plaid Productions, who immortalized the group’s work by making recordings.

Barnathan is thrilled by the students’ personal and musical growth, and their ability to leverage each others’ strengths to blend their voices and work as a team.

“I hope that this encourages the students to further engage in music education—and hopefully higher education, including college and beyond,” Barnathan says.


Attuned Spring Show

See Attuned perform tonight at their first Spring Show, featuring special guests the Tufts Amalgamates and Tufts University School of Medicine’s Docappella.

Date: Friday, March 9, 2012
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Place: Josiah Quincy Upper School Auditorium
152 Arlington Street
Boston, MA 02111

Free & open to the public.


Photos by Schweitzer Fellow and Tufts MD/MPH student Alan Hsu, who is also carrying out a Schweitzer project in Boston’s Chinatown.