Campus & Community

A Quarter Century of Pitching In for All-Female A Cappellas

3 min read

The sweet rhythms of the Radcliffe Pitches will fill the air at the Sanders Theatre on Friday, Feb. 25, when Harvard’s oldest all-female a cappella group marks a major milestone with its 25th Anniversary Concert. The 13 current members will be joined by at least 50 alumnae, who are coming to town for a reunion this weekend. The event will be hosted by Dean Jeremy R. Knowles, and will also feature the Harvard Din and Tonics, a male a cappella group that marked its 20th anniversary last year.

Pitches President Eden Riegel ’02 says the concert will include a “mix of songs, everything from jazz classics to swing hits of the Big Band era, to ’80s tunes that people will recognize.” The Pitches certainly transcend the typical musical boundaries, but that’s not where their talents end. Riegel says the performers will also “incorporate dance and humor into the set” on Friday night, “to make it entertaining for everyone.”

Combining good music with humor has been the tenet of the Radcliffe Pitches since their founding at the Hasty Pudding Club in the spring of 1975. Co-founder Kathy Manning ’78, who is now an attorney in North Carolina, recalls one of their first public performances at the senior Clambake on graduation day. The group “only knew four songs and sang them all,” she says. “The audience was very receptive, and wanted an encore. We huddled and then sang the same four songs all over again . . . to even louder applause.” It was, says Manning, an “incredible, wonderful experience” to sing with the Pitches, one that led to many long-lasting friendships.

In recent years, the Pitches have expanded their repertoire and have traveled the world. They toured Asia and the Pacific Rim last summer as part of their 25th anniversary celebrations. They’ve also sung at Carnegie Hall, at President Clinton’s 1992 Inaugural Ball, and before such dignitaries as Maya Angelou, Mikhail Baryshnikov, and Mary Robinson, then-president of Ireland. Just last week, the group’s serenading of Hasty Pudding Theatricals’ Man of the Year Billy Crystal was featured on Entertainment Tonight. The Pitches have also released four albums over the past 10 years, including their most recent CD, Pitching Rhythms, released last year. Future plans include a return trip to Bermuda during spring break and a European tour next year.

In addition to Riegel, this year’s Radcliffe Pitches include Maya Anand ’03, Jenn Belli ’01, Angie Boyce ’03, Sue Chung ’02, Elizabeth Hagan ’02, Anne Hamel ’02, Ayana Johnson ’02, Vivian Lien ’03, Nicole Martin ’02, Allison Porter ’02, Jesse Rokicki ’03, and Veronica Wissel ’03.

Tickets for Friday’s concert are $7 for students and seniors, and $10 for general admission. They’re on sale at the Sanders Theatre and the Harvard Box Office in Holyoke Center. For ticket information, call (617) 496-2222.