How do you hush a crowd? Introduce the a cappella group from Fairfield University, The Bensonians, or Bens. The group, named after North Benson Road, started as a barbershop ensemble within the Fairfield Glee Club. After some down years, the student-run group reestablished itself in 2010, held its first solo concert in 2011 and first winter concert the following year with Chordially Yours, an all-female group from Boston University. By early 2013 they were planning the spring concert.
“We have sung with professional a cappella groups like six13, we have opened for acts like the Bridgeport Symphony Orchestra, we have sung at weddings for university deans and around the world in places like Spain and Italy,” notes Rob Preli, a senior who became the group’s director in his junior year.
Bens remains a subgroup of the Glee Club. “In the beginning of the year, we spend the first two weeks recruiting for both Bensonians and Glee Club. We run around campus, we sing, hand out flyers, help freshmen move in, and actively convince people to audition for both groups,” says Rob. “The Bensonians are fully committed to mentoring freshmen into the group, we hold no distinctions of seniority and treat each member equally in the group, as brothers. All members are eligible for solo opportunities, and the idea is to have every member of the group be heard.”
The group casts a spell with a wide repertoire, from traditional classics to contemporary pop. These creative students like to perform. Most also participate in “theater, jazz band, lords chords, solo bands,” says Rob. “We have varsity athletes such as rowers, we have club athletes, the university mascot, the list goes on.”
They share at least one common goal: “To sing for as many people as we can and spread as much joy, lifting as many hearts as possible using just our voices,” says Rob.