November 9, 2000

Serving Up Surprises

Print More

What do football players, applied physics majors, and frat boys all have in common? They are represented within Cornell’s eclectic all-male a capella group, Cayuga’s Waiters. This group, the oldest of its kind at Cornell, will perform at 8 o’clock tonight at Barnes Hall. The event, An Intimate Evening with Cayuga’s Waiters, has a cocktail party theme. All guests are encouraged to arrive at 7:15 to mingle over beverages and hors d’oeuvres. The Waiters will be accompanied by a female a capella group, the Whirligigs of Wells College.

Cayuga’s Waiters recently served this writer a table for one — an opportunity to explore the inner workings of the group and to preview tonight’s “Intimate” performance.

So what is the deal with these 14 guys known as Cayuga’s Waiters? The boys seem to acknowledge that they are musically endowed, but member Michael Ander ’03 believes “the talents [of Cayuga’s Waiters] go beyond our [individual] musical ability.” Jeff Gurtman ’01 added, “I think we have a different vision than other a capella groups [at Cornell].”

The Waiters have demonstrated this philosophy in past performances. After all, the common a capella group would never fathom adding a guitar to accompany their voice parts. As a matter of fact, the group has performed with banjo, guitar, brass, and drums. “The guitar is used as an extra tool to create diversity,” explained Michael Palmeri ’01.

Other unique aspects of Cayuga’s Waiters were revealed as Jeff Gurtman explained several boy-bonding activities the guys participate in throughout the year. Events include an annual winter trip, Date Nights, and balancing work with fun in their weekly Wednesday performances at Ruloff’s as members of ‘The Cayuga’s Waiter’s Drinking Club.’

As a freshman, Justin Shubert ’02 wondered what it felt like to be a Waiter. He was drawn to Cayuga’s Waiters because they “are more about fun than any other group is [at Cornell]. Period.” Member Ajay Chaudhary ’03 reflected on his reasons for auditioning to become a Waiter — because it granted him the opportunity to “meet people that are different from [him].” He mentioned that the Cayuga’s Waiters will hold auditions twice this spring, along with one opportunity in Fall 2001.

However, being a Waiter isn’t all fun and games. The group spends many long hours perfecting their performances. And if the fact that Cayuga’s Waiters practice three times a week to obtain perfection doesn’t display devotion to you, perhaps Jason Langseth’s ’01 description of his title as “Group Leader” would settle the debate. “My role is to run rehearsals, but most importantly, to make the guys love being in the group.”

And that they do. When new member Lamar Newburn ’03 isn’t practicing with his Varsity Football teammates, he enjoys being a Cayuga’s Waiter rookie because “it provides a different side of everything [for him].” Lamar adds, “as a new guy (on behalf of Andrew and Adil Ahamed), we all feel fortunate to be in the group.” Watch out for debut solo performances from new members Andrew and Lamar tonight.

For those of you who have never been entertained by Cayuga’s Waiters, tonight is a perfect opportunity to join in their fun. Palmeri describes how “the group is more cohesive than it has been in the last five years.” I could easily believe that. My short time with Cayuga’s Waiters provided a lasting impression of their unity, as well as devotion, to providing fun-filled interactive performances.

At this point, what was really previewed of An Intimate Evening with Cayuga’s Waiters, you ask? Unfortunately, I had to take an oath of loyalty to the Waiters before they would let me leave. Nonetheless, the Cayuga’s Waiters will be covering a great number by *Censored*, and you are sure to enjoy their performance of that classic song *Censored.* Well, just what these Waiters are serving up tonight will remain a mystery.

But some top secret Waiter information regarding tonight’s show has been leaked to me from reliable sources.

“We’re taking [tonight’s show] to the edge,” revealed Langseth.

“This concert will be musically adventurous,” Chaudhary hinted.

“It’s gonna be pushing the limits of a capella,” Gurtman chimed in.

Palmeri dished the final detail, “Cayuga’s Waiters are taking the ‘guitar thing’ to the extreme.”

That’s right kids, tonight will be ‘Waiters: Plugged.”

Archived article by Kristen Jones