Wednesday, June 19

Bruins make film debut

A cappella group Bruin Harmony expands its reach through role in upcoming movie about Facebook

Bruin Harmony performs "I Shall Be Free" at the 2009 Spring Sing. The a cappella group will appear in David Fincher's upcoming film, "The Social Network."

Bruin Harmony performs "I Shall Be Free" at the 2009 Spring Sing. The a cappella group will appear in David Fincher's upcoming film, "The Social Network." Dana Wall

Facebook and a cappella may seem like an odd pairing, but not for the gentlemen of Bruin Harmony. UCLA’s all-male a cappella group are due to appear in David Fincher’s upcoming film, “The Social Network,” which traces the origins of the popular social networking Web site and will be released later this year.

Within the film, the group had the opportunity to work with David Fincher, director of box-office hits like “Fight Club” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.”

“We got to network with a lot of great people in the industry who held all different roles in the production … and we got the star treatment of having our own trailers to change in,” said Bruin Harmony President Richie Ferris.

As the movie is about the invention of Facebook, the group can be seen portraying an a cappella group on the Harvard campus, The Crocodilos.

“It was a very different experience for us, as we had to sing the same portion of All-4-One’s “˜I Swear’ over and over again while they got the shot from many different angles,” Ferris said. “We even worked with lip-synching to the tracks we had already laid down.”

Even with a big-screen appearance under its belt, Bruin Harmony can boast of many other undertakings that it has been involved in this past year. Since its inception at UCLA in 2006, Bruin Harmony has built quite a fan base on campus.

“It was jaw-dropping, hearing them at the assembly at the beginning of the year,” said first-year English student Karin Swanson, commenting on the group’s performance of the hit song “Down” at this year’s New Student Welcome Assembly. “They were the first all-male a cappella group that I’ve seen and I was definitely impressed. Though they don’t have girls in the group, they nevertheless have a really wide range of voices that they utilize very skillfully.”

Like other a cappella groups on campus that utilize their members’ wide-range of vocals and beatboxing skills, Bruin Harmony has remade songs from different styles, like Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab,” Kings of Leon’s “Use Somebody” and a variety of Christmas songs that they enjoy performing during the season for sorority events and small-scale concerts.

“Although we do sometimes intentionally choose songs that are more recognizable, we always try to make our performances fun and engaging, so we’ll sing whatever music we feel accomplishes that,” said John He, Bruin Harmony’s music director.

“A lot of what I arrange is influenced simply by songs that I’m listening to that I think would sound cool. It’s simplistic, but I think it works … regardless of how simple or how silly a song might be, we try and make it a little more interesting and a little more fun to sing.”

Though a young group that started four years ago, Bruin Harmony seems to understand the notion of putting themselves out there by obtaining countless performing opportunities and thus constant exposure. From performing at Parents’ Weekend, the Beat ‘SC Rally, Dance Marathon, sports games and a variety of alumni and donor events, to recording their first album, to putting together the hugely successful Los Angeles A Cappella Festival that took place this past January, the gentlemen of the group, who are in very different majors like electrical engineering and business economics, have been kept quite busy.

According to Ferris, this year has seen the most performance requests in the group’s four-year history.

In expanding their horizons outside of campus grounds, Bruin Harmony also recently sang at the Los Angeles Sparks’ Playoff WNBA game and the group is also focused on practicing for Spring Sing, the annual campus talent show taking place in May, as well as finishing their long-awaited first CD.

“We have been working hard all year and hope to finish recording this quarter, so that the album is ready to be released at the beginning of next school year,” said Ferris.

“We purchased our own equipment and have been tracking everything on our own, which means basically all the actual recording is done at our music director’s apartment. … The album will be made up of some Bruin Harmony classics as well as some of our new work. We’re building something great at Bruin Harmony … and it’s only going to get better.”

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