Many Oles, past and present, take pride in the college’s longest running a cappella group, the Limestones. The group is currently celebrating its 25th year in big ways, including a recent appearance in A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor on Saturday, March 7.
The Manitou Messenger got a chance to speak with the seven members of this year’s Limestones group about their performance.
Manitou Messenger: How did you guys get this awesome opportunity?
Brandon Berger 15: It’s really a crazy situation that we were thrown into. I was forwarded an e-mail from the music organization office in late February. The e-mail simply said that Garrison Keillor wanted to get ahold of the Limestones, like it was no big deal at all, and I was also given his telephone number. After realizing what was about to happen I freaked out and called Kaya right away, because I didn’t know what to do. After trying to get ahold of Garrison, I received a phone call the next day from my primary contact from the show asking us if we’d like to be on A Prairie Home Companion. I tentatively said yes, assuring the woman on the phone that it would simply rely on the date of the performance and the availability of each of the guys in the group… it all just happened so incredibly fast. I didn’t really have any time to think about the magnitude of what we were about to do until we finally got to the State Theatre and began our warm-up and mic check.
MM: Is this something that the Limestones have done in the past?
Charlie Baird 16: The group performed on the show back in 2001. The great thing about that group was that when they performed they gave us an opportunity, all of these years later, to go back and do the same thing. Hopefully by performing on the show again, we are also providing an opportunity, even if it’s another 10 years down the road, to future iterations of the Limestones.
MM: What was the best part of the experience for you?
Kaya Peterson 15: Singing on A Prairie Home Companion was an absolute thrill. At the start of the school year, we never would have imagined that we would be singing to an audience of more than four million people. My favorite part of the day was working with Girls Quartet GQ, an a cappella group from Maryland made up of just four women. It was great to have the opportunity to hang out with them and compare and contrast our experiences in our respective a cappella groups. They are among the most talented singers I have ever had the pleasure to work with. Their performance left us all speechless.
Chris Flicek 17: Knowing that I shared the stage with an outstanding legacy of performers and also being broadcast to four million listeners worldwide was what I enjoyed most.
CB: Oh man, there are so many things. I would say that while this is a group that has gotten fairly close, due to all of the things that we have done within the past year, each performance that we have brings us even closer. And being able to share what is truly a once in a lifetime experience with the other Limestones was truly a surreal and unforgettable experience. I wouldn’t have preferred to do it with any other group that I’ve been a part of.
DK Tong 17: Being able to hear all of the other performers sing on the show and knowing that we were a part of something that is known all across the world.
BB: It’s one of those things that you dream about, singing on a show of that magnitude with that type of legacy… The fact that it all came together in less than two weeks is pretty incredible. The guys had to work really hard in preparation, and they did. I couldn’t be more proud of them for doing everything that we’ve done this year.
Ted Dietz 17: I’d say that my favorite part was interacting with Garrison Keillor and the rest of the performers on the show. It was great because Garrison was interacting with us before the show and he was getting us as involved as possible. He even wrote new lyrics to a song we already knew as part of a commercial for St. Olaf. But ultimately, being around and performing with such talented people was an incredible experience.
MM: So, what’s next for the Limestones?
KP: Just before our spring break, we’re going to hold auditions for next year’s group. This is one of my favorite things we do each year. It’s always fun to see the diversity and talent that walks into the audition room. We try to keep the atmosphere low-pressure and make the audition process more fun than terrifying. It’s just starting to hit me that I won’t have the opportunity to sing with next year’s group, besides briefly at our upcoming spring concert. Our spring concert is going to be on Reading Day May 14 this year. We’re hoping that it will be a nice study break for stressed-out students studying for final exams… One highlight of the concert will be hearing next year’s Limestones sing together for the very first time. It’s going to be very bittersweet for Brandon and I to sing Malt-O-Meal for the last time. I try not to think about it.
BB: Another part of our spring will be performing with the St. Olaf Gospel Choir for a benefit concert for Oles Combating Poverty in mid-April. We’re hoping a large number of Oles will be at this performance, since it goes to support such a great cause. It’s been nice having gigs that attract larger audiences.
Sebastian Surom 17: Yeah, it seems like we’ve been getting gigs that have had larger audiences, and I foresee that trend continuing. Performing on A Prairie Home Companion will be the biggest gig that we have for a while, but if we keep putting our name out there and performing at such a high level, we can keep expecting to get gigs that reach an increasingly large number of people.
Graphic Credit: ETHAN BOOTE/MANITOU MESSENGER