The Book of Rounds – Interview with Singer Leslie DiNicola

Rising star Leslie DiNicola is featured this week in our series of interviews with the singers on the October Project recording The Book of Rounds: 21 Songs of Grace. Leslie’s gorgeous soprano voice opens the musical round “Rise,” track 10, and is also featured on “Timeless” and “Deep,” tracks 16 and 20.

Leslie DiNicola is a soprano on the Book of Rounds, featured on the song “Rise,” as well as “Timeless” and “Deep.”

Leslie grew up singing opera but – after several years competing classically – she says she became tired of music occupying such a competitive space in her life. “That’s when I started sneaking out at night to go to clubs and see rock bands,” Leslie says. “I just started playing with bands, moved to New York City, and knew that was what I wanted to do.”

To Leslie, singing on the Book of Rounds was both a powerful and personal project, as its style recalled many memories of classical singing without the stress of competition. “It was so much fun to sing a cappella at the time,” recalls Leslie. “I totally geeked out.” Returning to her classical roots, Leslie was brought in by October Project for a ten hour recording session, much of which involved sight-reading over 90 pages of sheet music – and soloing on “Rise” for the very first time. Looking back, Leslie remembers the experience as “just absolutely thrilling!”

Although Leslie has lived across the country, from New Jersey to LA, it was in Manhattan where she first met Julie, Marina, and Emil through a mutual friend. Leslie says that, dating back even before she released her first EP, Julie Flanders has always been incredibly supportive of her, lending advice and frequently offering mentorship. Today, Leslie is a singer-songwriter whose sound has been compared to Ingrid Michaelson and Sara Bareilles alike and is set to embark on a cross-country tour with John Lee in the fall. In addition, Leslie will be releasing a new album called “Love + Destruction” which will feature her most recent project – an acoustic, string-quartet version of her latest single “Boy + Girl”, which will serve as the album’s finale.

And while Leslie will be traveling all over the country for the next year, she always brings a piece of home with her in the form of the Book of Rounds. “I have yet to get on an airplane without listening to that album,” she says. “It’s become a ritual – I cannot take off without it.”

You can enjoy two Youtube videos for “Rise” –

  1. “Rise,” featuring the photographs of Chloe Ziff –  https://youtu.be/icDn2SWCDMU
  2.  Our new Youtube lyric video of “Rise” –  https://youtu.be/6wMSoeDUj-g

 

By Lucy Tomasso

Lucy Tomasso is a prospective Theater Studies major at Yale and an avid a cappella singer. A member of Yale’s Redhot and Blue, she is honored be a descendant of the Redhot lineage that includes October Project’s Marina Belica. Looking forward, Lucy hopes to pursue a career in the entertainment industry, particularly writing for either the stage or screen.  

The Book of Rounds: 21 Songs of Grace is available at I-Tunes and Amazon.  Your 5-star rating and review mean everything to us. Please leave great reviews.  It makes a big difference.  It helps us a lot.

Leslie DiNicola 2016

 

 

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One Sun Rise

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Gate of Your Heart

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The Book of Rounds – Interview with Singer Sam Bolen

Our ongoing series of interviews with the singers brought together by October Project on the Sounds True recording, The Book of Rounds: 21 Songs of Grace continues this week with tenor Sam Bolen. Sam’s mellifluous vocals are featured throughout Chapters Two & Three.

Sam Bolen is a tenor from Delouse Falls, Minnesota, who is featured on the songs “Shadow”, “Someone”, “Light”, “Joy”, and “Ready” on the Book of Rounds. In the same Yale Whiffenpoof group as rounds arranger Keiji Ishiguri, October Project was excited to include Sam in the recording of Chapters Two & Three of the album. “I answered the call,” Sam says.

The Book of Rounds is just one of many collaborative projects Sam has undertaken with fellow Yalies. At present he is working on a musical which he co-conceived alongside writer and composer Mark Sonnenblick ‘12. The show, entitled Midnight at the Never Get, tells the story of a 1960s divebar cabaret singer during the height of the white gay rights movement and includes an original score fashioned after the Great American Songbook. The show has already been widely praised after its premiere at New York club and cabaret Don’t Tell Mama. “It’s such an exciting opportunity,” he says. “We’re aiming to do a full run in the near future,” he says.

And while, at present, Sam is ensconced in the world of musical theater, he says he will always have an affinity for a cappella, harkening back to his days singing a cappella at college. “To just put singers together  – to have a raw power and pure potential – a cappella is a celebration of that,” he offers. Sam sang with the all-male group the Yale Spizzwinks(?) for three years before becoming one of 14 selected to join the Whiffenpoofs, Yale’s prestigious all-male senior a cappella group.

Sam’s favorite song on the Book of Rounds is the all-male “Someone,” as it reminds him of a large part of his college experience. He joins fellow alum Jessy Tomsko in his love for the song. “It’s a great group of guys singing on this record.” Jessy recalls. “I love hearing them rock it and do their thing.”

The song “Shadow” can be listened to here:   https://youtu.be/zAZzNXrweeI

By Lucy Tomasso

Lucy Tomasso is a prospective Theater Studies major at Yale and an avid a cappella singer. A member of Yale’s Redhot and Blue, she is honored be a descendant of the Redhot lineage that includes October Project’s Marina Belica. Looking forward, Lucy hopes to pursue a career in the entertainment industry, particularly writing for either the stage or screen.  

The Book of Rounds: 21 Songs of Grace is available at I-Tunes and Amazon.  Your 5-star rating and review mean everything to us.  Please leave great reviews.  It makes a big difference.  It helps us a lot.

SAM BOLEN - Headshot 1

 

 

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The Book of Rounds – Interview with Singer Andrew Bezek

In this post we continue our series of interviews with the singers brought together by October Project on their Sounds True recording, The Book of Rounds: 21 Songs of Grace. This week we interview tenor Andrew Bezek, who is featured throughout Chapter One.

 

Introducing Andrew Bezek, Yale ’13, a tenor two on the Book of Rounds. Andrew became involved with the album in its early stages, among the Yale singing group singers selected record the set of songs which is now Chapter One of the Book of Rounds. At Yale, Andrew originally sang a cappella with the co-ed group Redhot & Blue and served as the group’s president and co-business manager during his undergraduate years.

 

While Andrew currently works in digital marketing and social media for a restaurant group in New York City, he looks back on these four years singing a cappella with fondness. “One amazing thing about a cappella is that you don’t need any instruments or devices – you have yourself and a friend and that’s it,” says Andrew. Part of a cappella’s draw, for Andrew, is this immediacy: there are no materials required to make music other than those you constantly have with you.

 

Andrew Bezek was a member of Redhot & Blue when Keiji Ishiguri, THE Book of Rounds’ primary arranger, first wrote his legendary arrangement of October Project’s “Return to Me” for the group. The arrangement is now a concert staple and has been sung for audiences from D.C. to Denmark. “To this day, I think it’s one of the best arrangements at Yale,” says Andrew. Another favorite arrangement? Beauty – the last song in Chapter One which Andrew sings alongside Emma Akrawi. Ever humble, when asked his favorite part about the song, Andrew defers to his counterpart: “I just love to hear Emma sing,” he says.

The song “Beauty” can be listened to here:   https://youtu.be/UIEZkp_8b_A

By Lucy Tomasso

Lucy Tomasso is a prospective Theater Studies major at Yale and an avid a cappella singer. A member of Yale’s Redhot and Blue, she is honored be a descendant of the Redhot lineage that includes October Project’s Marina Belica. Looking forward, Lucy hopes to pursue a career in the entertainment industry, particularly writing for either the stage or screen.  

The Book of Rounds: 21 Songs of Grace is available at I-Tunes and Amazon.  Your 5-star rating and review mean everything to us.  Please leave great reviews.  It makes a big difference.  It helps us a lo

 

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In the Bright Mirror

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Haiku by Julie Flanders

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The Book of Rounds – Interview with Singer Tony Valenzuela

We continue our series of interviews with the singers on the October Project recording The Book of Rounds: 21 Songs of Grace with a profile of Tony Valenzuela, whose heartfelt tenor voice opens the musical round “Know,” track 6.

Introducing Tony Valenzuela, one of the Book of Rounds’ tenors featured on the songs “Home” and “Know”.  Tony can truly do it all: he sang a cappella in Yale’s Redhot and Blue and danced in Yale Danceworks, graduated from the school in 2013 as a biology major, and is currently in medical school, a surgeon-hopeful.

Tony first began singing in high school in his hometown of Bethesda, Maryland, where he participated in both choir and a cappella groups. At the time, it was because he was tired of playing the piano – but he soon found himself drawn to the singing.  “Besides a cappella, I really love choral music. Eric Whittaker is my jam.” Tony laughs. And while right now he’s hearing more talk about anesthesia than a cappella, he says he’d like to start singing again and eventually be part of a group after medical school.

Looking back, Tony says his favorite song on the Book of Rounds is “Rain”, which features fellow Redhot and Blue alumna Mary Kleshefsky. “It’s mind blowing,” he says of her solo. “Whenever “Rain” come on on my iPod, I can listen to the song over and over.” It was with this intention that the rounds were written in the first place – as “modern mantras” that would inspire reflection through repetition. In this way, Tony’s voice contributes to the healing process of many, through song and stethoscope alike.

In terms of the future, the singing surgeon says he looks forward to continuing his path towards becoming a doctor (and finally getting paid to do something!) Money aside, Tony mentions that the best part of his intended career is that he gets to help people. Perhaps, one day, The Book of Rounds will be playing in Tony’s hospital wing.

You can enjoy the song “Know” here: https://youtu.be/c5oty2OMu4E

 

By Lucy Tomasso

Lucy Tomasso is a prospective Theater Studies major at Yale and an avid a cappella singer. A member of Yale’s Redhot and Blue, she is honored be a descendant of the Redhot lineage that includes October Project’s Marina Belica. Looking forward, Lucy hopes to pursue a career in the entertainment industry, particularly writing for either the stage or screen.  

The Book of Rounds: 21 Songs of Grace is available at I-Tunes and Amazon.  Your 5-star rating and review mean everything to us.  Please leave great reviews.  It makes a big difference.  It helps us a lot!

Tony Valenzuela.png

 

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