Courtesy of Mixed Co.

The halls of Sheffield-Sterling-Strathcona Hall reverberated with harmonious melodies and humorous quips on Saturday, Feb. 3.

The a cappella group Mixed Company, or Mixed Co., took the stage at SSS, blending music and sketch comedy. The group’s concert marked their 42nd Snow Job, their annual winter concert.

“Saturday’s performance was not only a product of hours of hard work and rehearsals, but also an illustration of friendship and admiration for one another truly coming to life through music,” said Ayannah Obas ’27. 

Along with six others, Obas was tapped to join Mixed Co. in the fall. She said a highlight of the night was hearing everyone showcase both their individual skills and collaborative talent.

Emphasizing that sense of community, Isaac Yu ’24, also a former managing editor of the News, said that preparing for the show was particularly enjoyable because he was able to spend so much time with the group. After rehearsals, he said that members would often stay to study or make food together.

“I love hanging out with my a cappella group, and tech week is just an excuse to hang out, like, [for] four hours a day,” he said. “It definitely brings us closer as a group.”

During tech week, the group spent three hours rehearsing each night, coupled with additional time devoted to solos and performance details. Before that week, they spent four to five hours rehearsing as a group with another hour dedicated to their vocal section. 

Preparing to perform 20 songs, Mixed Co. began rehearsing in the fall, continuing throughout their winter tour in Florida and during the first few weeks of this semester. 

Yu said that he was particularly excited to arrange music for “Flowers,” a song from “Hadestown.” 

Praising Ian Berlin ’24 and Dania Baig’s ’24 rendition of the song, Eden Feiler ’27 said the two singers “really did it justice.”

Like other a cappella groups on campus, various members of Mixed Co. arrange music to perform instead of using pre-composed songs. Songs the group sings are arranged by members or alumni, and the group performs music across all genres. Once a song is arranged for the group, it becomes part of their repertoire, a diverse setlist from which they can draw songs in the future.

Each year, Mixed Co. selects songs from their repertoire along with new arrangements from current members to perform. According to assistant musical director of the group Everett Tolbert-Schwartz ’26, members fill out a form ranking their top choices for songs they would like to sing. Then, Tolbert-Schwartz works in collaboration with Emily Patrick ’26, the group’s pitch — or musical director, to make sure everyone gets their first or second choice.

“We find that when people are singing the song they really want to sing, everyone sounds better,” Tolbert-Schwartz said of the process.

Once songs are selected, every member of the group learns the background parts, known as “shoes.” Then, members of Mixed Co. who are interested in singing solos practice those parts in their free time. The group’s musical directors work to ensure that all members who would like to perform solos are able to do so at shows.

Along with the music, members of Mixed Co. also collaborate to imbue their concerts with comedic asides, engaging the audience with lighthearted deviations from their music. Michael Cheng ’26 is this year’s “shticktator,” the affectionate term the group uses for the member primarily responsible for planning “shticks.”

On Saturday, Cheng emceed the show and facilitated various bits. The shticks included a time-honored tradition: humorous introductions that set the scene and tone for the rest of the night. Obas jokingly introduced herself as a “public speaking major,” delivering the line in a barely audible whisper.

Another bit later played out with Kenneth Shui ’27 and Kenneth Vo ’27, who both go by “Kenny.” At one point during the concert, they staged a fake fight over whose turn it was to sing. 

Mixed Co. plans special skits for larger concerts like Snow Job, according to Aviv Pinker ’25. While other bits are recurring, the group collaborates to create novel segments for these shows. 

Yu served as the group’s “shticktator” last year. “Most of that is thrown together last minute,” he said. “And I think it makes it funnier because it’s so haphazard.”

For Tolbert-Schwartz, watching alumni in the audience react to the group’s bits is one of his favorite aspects of performing. Tolbert-Schwartz said alumni who are still on campus come to all the group’s shows.

Even former members who have graduated often stay involved with the group, he said, mentioning connecting with alumni in Florida during Mixed Co.’s recent tour. Pinker agreed, lauding the enthusiastic seniors who sat in the front row during Saturday’s concert.

“What makes Snow Job truly special is the support from friends and family in the crowd,” Pinker said. “Performing with them in the crowd is my favorite part of Snow Job.”

Mixed Co. was founded in 1981.

Kamini Purushothaman covers Arts and New Haven. A first-year student in Trumbull College, she is majoring in History.