Off The Record, Lehigh’s largest co-ed a capella group, held a concert in celebration of its 10-year anniversary on Saturday, Nov. 9, at 7 p.m.
The singers filed on stage at Lamberton Hall to perform a total of 11 songs. Off The Record alumni were invited to join and accompanied the group for the first half of the performance.
For Hanna Schulman, ‘19, ’20G, this was a chance to sing once again with her classmates who graduated last spring. Schulman is a graduate student, and this semester marks the start of her fourth year as a member of Off The Record.
Schulman said Off The Record is one of the only things that makes her feel like she is still a student and not just working all the time. She regards the group members as her Lehigh family.
“The people are amazing,” Schulman said. “They’re my best friends, truly.”
Schulman said one of her goals is to make new Off The Record members feel as welcome as she did when she first joined.
Luca Milletti, ’22, joined the group this semester.
He said he has felt embraced as a new member of Off The Record. The Saturday concert was his first performance with the group and an opportunity for him to showcase his beat-boxing talents.
Milletti said he does not get many chances to put these skills to use.
“Being able to have that (skill) actually make an impact on something has been my favorite part of singing with the group,” he said.
Milletti is also a member of the University Choir and said he has enjoyed singing some modern and pop-oriented songs, which contrasts the classical music he is used to practicing.
He likes the “light-hearted, but also serious” atmosphere Off The Record music directors Jacob Ullman, ‘20, and Owen Rahr, ‘22, strive for during practices.
Ullman said he loves being able to lead and sing with the a capella group without formal direction under the Lehigh administration.
The group is student-run and Ullman emphasized that members receive no school credit for participating. He believes students sing in Off The Record because it is their passion.
“It’s such an amazing space to be in — creatively and musically,” Ullman said.
Schulman said throughout her years with Off The Record, the group has only improved.
Like Milletti, many Off The Record members, are also members of the University Choir. Schulman, who was also once a member of the choir, said these members bring additional musical knowledge to Off The Record to produce a “better sound.”
She said the group has directed more focus toward producing quality music over time.
The ensemble takes its performances seriously, she said, and members come to practice ready to focus.
Off The Record rehearses every Tuesday and Sunday evening for two hours. In preparation for its concert, Ullman said the group will ramp up its rehearsal schedule by adding extra practices on certain days.
Ullman said when preparing for a performance, the group’s biggest challenge is mastering the music to a level that it becomes second nature.
“It’s really easy to get lost in making sure every single note is right, and of course we strive for that,” Ullman said. “For us, the hardest part is jumping past that and seeing if we can make an emotional connection with the song and with the audience.”
Ullman said it is sometimes a struggle to get the group to this point, since every member wants to deliver their parts with perfection.
However, he stressed it is fine for the singers to let their barriers down and relax, if it makes for a better and more upbeat performance.
Ullman said when members end their time with Off The Record, it is more important that they leave with positive memories of the group and their friendships than it is for them to remember how well they performed any one concert song.
Saturday’s song set included Off The Record “classics” such as “Rockin’ Robin” by The Jackson 5 and “Sunday Candy” by Chance The Rapper, as well as new songs such as “Still Feel” by Half Alive and “Remind Me To Forget” by Kygo.
Schulman said she was a bit nervous for the performance, but had confidence because Off The Record “somehow always pulls it off in the end.”
She was right.
When Off The Record concluded its concert with “More” by Lawrence, it was met with a standing ovation and requests for an encore. The group went on to entertain the audience with “Ultralight Beam” by Kanye West.
“The group just lights up on stage,” Schulman said. “We have never lost that dynamic through all the people who have come and gone.”