Ephlats reunite to send a soothing message

Listen to Mood Indigo

Listen to Neath the Shadows of the Hills

What a wonderful gesture. It’s amazing to hear the quality of the voices, the tenors still hitting those high notes (note: Joan Baez can longer hit her high notes)/ Joyfulness and spirit are given to each performance.

We’ve learned that for concerns of privacy, names were not used to identify the individual vocalists but if you know any 68ers that live in Westport MA or Ormond Beach FL you may be able to identify two of our classmates.

All credit to Burke Moody ’67, who produced these two videos and with whom we caught up with via email to learn about this effort and about the Ephlats.

Here are some excerpts from that correspondence:

Thanks for your email and kind words about the ’60s-era Ephlats virtual performances. It’s been a ton of fun and we have another ready to go.
Please feel free to link to or embed the videos on the williams68.org website. They are available on Vimeo and YouTube.
The Ephlats endure. Founded in the mid-1950s and still going strong. Tom Beach put together a 45th Reunion booklet which is a great snapshot of the group from the beginning. There may be material in there for your article.

The first Ephlats Reunion, declared the 40th, was held in the Spring of 1997. Reunions have been held roughly every 5 years since. All Ephlats are invited. The first ones were organized by Ephlats from the ’60s and ‘90s with assistance from the current groups. The last in 2017 was the 60th and was put together by Laura Day ’04 who is an Ephlat and the Director of Annual giving at the college. The reunions are unique and wonderful ways to stay in touch with contemporaries and with the younger era Ephlats. Voices Sunday morning are usually trashed.

How we did the virtual performances:

  1. Each of us had the score and a guide track of the song from our record, Shiny and New.
  2. Each had two devices: one to playback the guide track and one to record the video.
  3. Each would listen to the guide track on one device and simultaneously sing their part while recording the video on the other. Think Karaoke.
  4. The individual videos were sent to me. I lined them up in Adobe Premiere.
  5. Extracted the audio from each select take and saved as .wav files.
  6. Imported the .wav files into Melodyne, adjusted the pitch, level and timing of each track so we sang in tune and together as much as possible.
  7. Output the Melodyne tracks to a stereo .wav file.
  8. Added some light EQ and reverb in Adobe Audition.
  9. Brought the final Audition mix back to Premiere, designed the split screen, added location type, made minor color corrections and added head and tail art cards.
  10. Output the final version to a .mov file for upload to Vimeo and YouTube.

It’s impossible to sing in sync over the internet—like Zoom. Too much unpredictable behavior and lag.

Got that? The results are uplifting. Thank you, Burke for all your hard work, not to mention your great voice.

More about the history of the ‘Phlats from Burke:

The Ephlats changed course in the early 70’s, added women and instruments. Many of those from the 1970s-1980s still get together and perform a cabaret show in Williamstown each year. We saw their show at the last reunion in 2017. They’re really good and have maintained their independence. A capella returned in the ’80s and the groups since have gradually migrated from the traditional choral a capella to vocal bands which has been the fashion over the last 20 years or more.

The Ephlats in action: the photo above of the 1967-68 Ephlats, a reproduction of the original black and white image from the 1967 Gul, shows the Ephlats as they appeared on the Mike Douglas show. A big moment for the Ephlats. Bob Chamber  (who with Tom Beach led the group our senior) brings forward these memories of the occasion:

The spontaneous smiles you see on the faces of the group resulted from a remark Mike had just made. Dom DeLuise was hysterically funny, to the extent that when he “conducted” our takeoff on the quartet from Rigoletto, we couldn’t get through the rehearsal. Mike then came over and told us to ignore Dom and just sing the song. We did fine when we went live, but it took a lot of concentration. Dom was just incredibly funny. We all had a chance to chat with him off camera, and he couldn’t have been nicer.

Bob further recalls:

The Ephlats could be made up of people from all four years, so yes, I was part of the group in ’67, when we all performed on the Mike Douglas Show with Dom DeLuise. Curt Tyler, Henry Drinker, Dave Strong, Steve Bradley and Mark Jacox were also in the group at that time. After the ’67 class had graduated, younger people like Dave Prouty came onboard, and the group has continued to be rejuvenated that way to the present day. We began our Mike Douglas appearance with a hummed version of “Neath the Shadows,” which was how we began all of our performances. As a result, hearing the “quarantine” version so beautifully performed by many of the same voices after all these years was quite moving to me—especially as I got to see their faces too. We’re not getting any younger!

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