In 1991, a large student-run choir called the Amateurs was founded by Washington University students Bob McKelvey and David Cooperstein. Over the next several years, the group shed its instruments and shrank until it became a true a cappella group. Neither that transition nor the years that followed, however, changed the Amateurs’ desire to still make music today: we do it because we love it.
The word ‘amateur’ derives from the Latin word amator, which means lover, devoted friend, or someone who is in avid pursuit of an objective. In the original sense, an amateur is someone who does something for the love of it and because they have a passion for it. Even though nearly all of our group members are studying something other than music at Wash U, we are bound together as a family by our shared love of music.
We are proud of the fun energy and musicianship we pour into all of our musical arrangements. We belt Christina Aguilera, jam onstage to Maroon 5, slow down a Bon Iver ballad, throw it back to 80’s hits, and do everything in between! We all vote on the music we want to sing, and anyone in the group can arrange songs. Each member of our group comes from a unique musical background and brings fresh and creative ideas. Auditions is one of our favorite times of the year, as we get to see the talent, skills, and ideas that everyone wants to bring to our group!
There is no better feeling in the world than having a blast on stage with your closest friends and sharing your music with the audience! We perform at about one gig a week, and we have had quite a few memorable experiences. Caroling at fancy corporate parties in St Louis, competing on America’s Got Talent, and being flown out to San Diego, Boston, and more cities to sing at lavish fundraisers are just a few of the amazing experiences we have had over the past few years. Each February, we showcase a year’s worth of hard work and talent in our annual concert, Goin’ Pro, which is routinely packed with thousands of adoring fans (you can’t prove it isn’t true).
Our Awards and Recognition
The passion we have for our music has garnered recognition from critics and celebrities nationwide, including Sara Bareilles, Ben Folds, Glenn Close, and Deke Sharon, the producer and musical arranger for Pitch Perfect. Our music has appeared on national a cappella compilations like Voices Only and Ben Folds Presents: University A Cappella. This past spring we competed in the International Competition of Collegiate A Cappella, won Best Choreography, and made it to the Semifinals Round!
We have had the opportunity to travel near and far to share our music with Wash U alums, rising college students, die-hard NBA and MLB fans, and the occasional pack of roving spring-breakers. These are some of the places we have had the pleasure of visiting: Oklahoma City OK, New York NY, Washington DC, Boston MA, Los Angeles CA, Houston TX, San Diego CA, Destin FL, and Chicago IL.