Sound Off Monday: How The Summer Starts

July 9, 2018



Hello everyone!


I'm Mark Thurner, one of the co-business managers of The Vineyard Sound this summer. This is the first in a series of "Sound Off Monday" blog posts we will be posting on a weekly basis that document what it's like to be in The Vineyard Sound. We get a lot of questions from our fans and this blog provides a wonderful long-form opportunity to go more in depth! In the future you'll hear from Connor our music director and Henry the other co-business manager on different aspects of the summer. Eventually other members of the group will contribute with their favorite places to eat, have fun, and also what it's like for them to be in the group! Let's get started.


Once the summer ends, we choose the next leaders of the group. This means the business manager(s) (BM) and the music director (MD). This year Henry and I split up the position in order to reduce the burden of the BM to handle all of the many responsibilities. After that, we begin to commission art and choose tracks for our next CD! We hunt for an artist to do the album artwork and then once we've chosen the tracks we get them mixed/mastered and buy rights for them through various agencies. Once the CD is fully complete and triple-checked, we get the hard copies produced and shipped to one of the BMs. The whole CD process takes about 3-4 months. 


Once the CD is complete we turn our focus onto the next summer. This primarily means asking who will return and then deciding how many new members we need. We then ask the returning members to suggest guy from their respective acapella groups and we hold an audition process over about a month. The returning members vote and we choose who we like best/who fits the right voice parts. Occasionally we look outside Conn, Skidmore, Wesleyan, Emory, and William & Mary, but most of the time we find our group from those schools. Usually by the end of February we have a very good idea of who is going to be in the group. 


While we choose members, and usually even by mid-december we are searching for a house to rent. This process can be long and difficult as housing on Martha's Vineyard is highly variable year to year. The group has found an affordable house to rent for 26 years, and we are extremely appreciative of the Vineyard community for helping us. Without kind landlords entrusting us with their property for 3 months The Vineyard Sound would not exist. We often end up making 3-4 trips to the island to look at different properties. We're always looking for new landlords and friends so feel free to reach out if you or anyone you know has an opening! Oftentimes we get rentals that can only last a year for various reasons, so we almost always are looking for a new house. Special shoutout to Cathy Gargiulo at Ocean Park Realty for being an absolute angel and helping us find a house in 2018. Thanks Cathy!


The final step once we've nailed a house is planning out our first two weeks and purchasing supplies. We often buy in bulk at the beginning of the summer to ensure we have enough housing supplies for the 3 months on island. Running out of toilet paper in a 10-person house isn't a fun time! The first two weeks of the summer are always very focused with long hours of rehearsal. We often will rehearse 5-7 hours a day that first week in order to get the new members up to speed on our standard repertoire. Sometime we sing at an early private function in the first two weeks that we must prepare for, otherwise our only shows are singing for the kids around island in their last days of school. Our weeklies start at the end of the second week,  and while our audiences aren't usually very large we get to test out the group and really stretch our legs until we hit July when the shows truly start to fill up.


I hope that gives you some more insight into how The Vineyard Sound functions in the off-season and how the summer gets kicked off. Usually whoever is running the group has to balance a college course load as well as preparing for the coming summer, so it can be quite a challenge to get everything done. It's a labor of love that many guys have done over the years, and we give a big heartfelt thank you to each of them for keeping this summer dream-job alive and well. We also want to send a huge thank you to the board of directors of The Vineyard Sound who guide us and help us through the challenges of running a small seasonal business. 


Thanks for reading,


Mark Thurner

Co-Business Manager 2018 


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