Meet the Dartmouth Aires, Stars of NBC’s The Sing-Off



Sixteen Dartmouth Aires are participating in “The Sing-Off.” Front row, from left: Ethan Weinberg ’12, Clark Moore ’13, Danny Freeman ’13, Robert Hoffman ’13, Preston Suan ’14, Nate Davis ’14, and Nicolas Chuaqui ’12. Back row: Alex Taylor ’11, Xavier Curry ’15, Dan Leopold ’10, Justin Lerman ’10, Will Hart ’12, Jack Merrill ’11, Brendan Lynch-Salamon ’10, Henry Luehrman ’12. Not pictured: Michael Odokara-Okigbo ’12. (photo by Lewis Jacobs/NBC)

Viewers nationwide are discovering the vocal talents of the Dartmouth Aires thanks to The Sing-Off, an a cappella singing competition that airs Monday nights on NBC. When the show premiered on September 19, Dartmouth’s oldest a cappella group was one of 16 ensembles contending for the grand prize of $200,000 and a Sony Music recording contract.

Dartmouth is known for its well-rounded students, and the members of the Dartmouth Aires are no different. Fans of The Sing-Off know the Aires can sing, but the range of their talents and interests may be a surprise. For a better picture of the 16 Aires, let’s break the group down by the numbers:

  • 8 subject areas for their academic majors (2 engineering, 2 English, 2 music, 2 government, 2 psychology, 1 linguistics, 2 history, 2 film and media studies, 2 undecided)
  • 4 are varsity athletes (lightweight crew, heavyweight crew, and lacrosse) and 4 play club sports (squash, tennis, ultimate Frisbee, and volleyball)
  • 6 have performed undergraduate research with a Dartmouth faculty member
  • 1 is writing a novel for his senior thesis project
  • 14 are members of fraternities
  • 3 spent fall term on Dartmouth foreign study programs in London and Barcelona
  • 11 states represented by their hometowns (Utah, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Illinois, New Jersey, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Georgia, and Maine)
Scroll down to learn more, and watch Dartmouth Now for ongoing updates of the Aires’ progress on The Sing-Off.

Nic Chuaqui ’12Hometown: Salt Lake City, UtahHigh school: West High SchoolMajor: Double major in music and English (creative writing), currently writing an orchestra piece for his senior thesis projectVoice: Tenor IUndergraduate research: “I am currently doing independent studies with Professors Steve Swayne and Kui Dong in the music department.”Extracurriculars: Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternityOther singing/performing jobs: “I have sung with the Dartmouth Glee Club and the Handel Society, and when I am home in Salt Lake City I sing with The Choir of the Cathedral of the Madeleine. I also play the piano and the bass guitar. I am very active in writing music, and I have written pieces that have been performed at Dartmouth.”Why I choose Dartmouth: “Because I knew that here I would be able to pursue my many interests. As time has gone on, I have appreciated this more and more, and my education has been shaped in very diverse ways. Dartmouth also has a great social environment and a strong sense of community, and these two things immediately attracted me to the College.”

Xavier Curry ’14Hometown: Largo, Md.High school: Eleanor Roosevelt High School Major: Prospectively theaterVoice: BaritoneExtracurriculars: Has appeared in the Dartmouth Theater production Rent; placed third in the 2011 Dartmouth Idol competitionOther singing/performing jobs: Live shows at Six Flags America in Largo, Md., from 2008 to 2009Why I chose Dartmouth: “I wanted to go to a good small school with a Russian major!”

Nathaniel (Nate) Davis ’14Hometown: Boston, Mass.High school: The Roxbury Latin School, West Roxbury, Mass.Major: UndecidedVoice: TenorExtracurriculars: Alpha Delta fraternityWhy I chose Dartmouth: “The undergraduate academics are amazing. Also my dad (Wayne Davis ’73) and brother (Ben Davis ’08) both went here and really enjoyed their experiences. My brother was also in the Aires, so I knew that if I got accepted to Dartmouth that I’d love to try out for them.”

Danny Freeman ’13Hometown: Huntington, N.Y.High school: St. Paul’s School in Concord, N.H.Major: Government, with a minor in theater and public policy; currently in London, participating in the government Foreign Study ProgramVoice: Tenor I, “You can hear me particularly on the really high notes during our first song on The Sing-Off, ‘Higher Ground,’ as the echo to Michael’s solo, and during the Queen medley at the introduction to ‘Somebody to Love.’”Extracurriculars: Mentors Against Violence; Tucker Foundation webmaster; Rockefeller Center for Public Policy student intern; First Year Fellow; Dimensions Team; Dartmouth Outing Club First-Year Trips leader; intramural softball and hockey; Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity; appeared in Dartmouth Theater productions of Wired, NEXT!, 25th Annual Putnum County Spelling Bee, The Kim of Oz, and RentOther singing/performing jobs: “I led two high school a cappella groups—the T-Tones and The Deli Line—and I was a part of our choir, and our a cappella choral choir, The Madrigals”Why I chose Dartmouth: “The incredible community and school spirit that surrounded the College on the Hill. I am so grateful that I am now a student at Dartmouth College not only for all of the incredible opportunities that are offered (including the London Foreign Study Program I am on now!), but also for the enormous family that I became a member of the very minute I stepped on campus for my freshman trip. The Dartmouth Aires played a role in why I wanted to come to Dartmouth. I was in an a cappella group in high school, and one of my friends showed me a video of the Dartmouth Aires when I was just a sophomore. I knew at that moment that The Aires was the sort of group that I want to be a part of when I get to college. [Coming to Dartmouth and] being a part of the Aires while having the opportunity to be on The Sing-Off was something that I just never thought would be possible.”

Will Hart ’12Hometown: Kenilworth, Ill.High school: New Trier High SchoolMajor: Engineering sciencesIn this video, Hart talks about his experience on The Sing-Off and what music and engineering have in common.Voice: BaritoneExtracurriculars: Captain of the men’s club volleyball team; Psi Upsilon fraternityOther singing/performing jobs: “I sang in a jazz choir in high school and we did holiday gigs around the area at other high schools, churches, and other functions.”Why I chose Dartmouth: “Because of the humble student body, awesome academics, and beautiful campus. Coincidentally, my father (John Hart ’77) went to Dartmouth for many of the same reasons. I have loved every second of it.”

Robbie Hoffman ’13Hometown: Pennington, N.J.High school: The Lawrenceville SchoolMajor: GovernmentVoice: Baritone/tenor IIExtracurricular Activities: Varsity men’s lacrosse; Theta Delta Chi fraternityOther singing/performing jobs: “I sang with ‘The Lawrentians,’ which was my high school’s ‘elite choral group’ that met as a class during the school day. Similar to the Aires, the Lawrentians sang a couple of shows each trimester, often performing at chapel services, community centers, school meetings, etc. I also performed individually with my guitar.”Why I Chose Dartmouth: “For the academics, my lacrosse career, the attractiveness of the D-Plan, and the amazing campus. Most importantly, however, I was most excited to enroll at Dartmouth because of the people here and the strength of the alumni network. The Aires are such a great example of the diversity at Dartmouth, with all of us coming from all over campus in our academic interests and our extracurricular activities. In terms of alumni, we continue to receive monthly e-mails from Aires alumni inquiring about how we are doing, what our future show schedule looks like, and if we can figure out ways to meet up, grab dinner, or simply just hang out. Because of all of this, Dartmouth was an easy choice.“

Dan Leopold ’10Hometown: Boulder, Colo.High school: The Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Conn.Major: PsychologyVoice: BassPost-grad: Currently a research assistant in child neuropsychology at the University of DenverUndergraduate research: Musical expression/perception of emotions and animacy perception with Thalia Wheatley, assistant professor of psychological and brain sciencesExtracurriculars: Active Minds, Dartmouth Yoga Club; Upper Valley Jewish Community Youth Group; TEDxDartmouth; Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternityOther singing/performing jobs: “Not a job, but MANY musicals, choir, reviving my high school a cappella group, and operatic voice lessons.”Why I chose Dartmouth: “Because of the overwhelming sense of passion and excitement I felt while visiting. The college cares deeply about its undergrads, the entire community, and the beautiful wilderness in which we live(d). Dartmouth allows each and every one of its students to find their passion, harness their skills, and gain access to incredible opportunities in order to fully realize their potential. Dartmouth felt like the beautiful, supportive, and incredibly fun places I had called home (or school) until I was 18.”

Justin Lerman ’10Hometown: Gladwyne, Penn.High school: The Shipley SchoolMajor: PsychologyVoice: Baritone/tenor/vocal percussionPost-grad: “ I’m currently living in Hollywood, Calif., with Brendan Lynch-Salamon ’10 (who is also one of the Aires on The Sing-Off). I moved out here to pursue a career in screenwriting, partnered with another Dartmouth alum, Ian McNabb ’09, who I also live with. I’m still writing, but since moving out here Brendan and I started a band together, Warm Weather, and we’ve been writing and recording music and playing shows locally. This summer we released our first EP (extended play), Dances, and we’re about to release another in conjunction with a national radio PR campaign — so we should be on the airwaves soon!”Extracurriculars: Men’s Heavyweight Crew; Chi Heorot fraternityOther singing/performing jobs: Currently a professional musician in his band, Warm WeatherWhy I choose Dartmouth: “For its academics, its friendly, laid-back and fun-loving student body, and the beautiful outdoors of New Hampshire.”

Henry Luehrman ’12Hometown: Belmont, Mass.High School: Belmont Hill SchoolMajor: English, modified with film and media studies, currently writing a novel for his senior thesis projectVoice: Baritone/tenor IIExtracurriculars: Men’s varsity lightweight crew; Alpha Delta fraternityOther singing/performing jobs: “I never worked as a performer, but I was in 12 plays and musicals during my six years at Belmont Hill School.”Why I chose Dartmouth: “Not only is Hanover a beautiful place to go to school, but everyone’s so brilliant and happy to be here all the time. The setting and the people definitely won me over.”

Brendan Lynch-Salamon ’10 Hometown: Minneapolis, Minn. (currently lives in Los Angeles) High school: Breck School Major: Film and media studies Voice: Tenor Extracurriculars: Clusterfunk, arts writer for The Dartmouth, Phi Delt fraternity, Dartmouth Idol, Dartmouth Theater production of The Last Five Years Other singing/performing jobs: ”I’m in a band in Los Angeles (Warm Weather)“ Why I choose Dartmouth: ”It’s a fantastic school in a beautiful place full of strange people.“

Jack Merrill ’11Hometown: Frederick, Md.High school: Frederick High SchoolMajor: LinguisticsVoice: Bass/baritone/whistlePost-grad: Currently studying linguistics in the graduate program at the University of California, BerkeleyWhy I Chose Dartmouth: “Because it is the greatest school ever.”

Clark Moore ’13Hometown: Atlanta, Ga.High school: The Paideia SchoolMajor: History modified with art history; currently in London participating in the history Foreign Study ProgramVoice: Tenor IIUndergraduate research: “As a Mellon Mays Fellow I conducted research on Victorian architecture and consumer culture. My advisors were Professor Marlene Heck and Professor Michelle Warren.”Extracurriculars: Co-founder of Sugarplum dance group; Intern/tour guide/Web host in the Admissions Office; OUTreach peer mentor; Green Key Society director of development; Editor-in-Chief of A Change in Attitude; staff writer for The Dartmouth Mirror; senior staff writer of the Collegiate Journal of Art; Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity; has appeared in Dartmouth theater productions of Blues for an Alabama, Coming up: The Musical, and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.Why I chose Dartmouth: “Because of the diversity of interests among the student body. I wanted to go to school where I could be challenged and inspired by talented, artistic people, and to become a part of the Dartmouth family.”

Michael Odokara-Okigbo ’12Hometown: Portland, MaineHigh school: Waynflete SchoolMajor: History major, theater minorVoice: Tenor IIExtracurriculars: Heavyweight varsity rower; executive director of the Mugadi Foundation; singer/manager of the Dartmouth Gospel Choir; Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity; winner of the 2009 Dartmouth Idol competitionOther singing/performing jobs: “As a member of the Dartmouth Gospel Choir, I sang on a cruise ship for Oprah Winfrey and her employees my freshman summer. And I worked as a New London (N.H.) Barn Playhouse acting intern this past summer.”Why I chose Dartmouth: “For its great focus on undergraduates. I also love its small town feel, and the strong connection to alumni. It was the perfect school for me.”

Preston Suan ’14Hometown: Baltimore, Md.High school: Gilman SchoolMajor: EngineeringVoice: BaritoneExtracurriculars: Club squash; club tennis; Psi Upsilon fraternityOther singing/performing jobs: “I sang in my high school a cappella group and glee club.”Why I chose Dartmouth: “Because of the broad range of studies and the various opportunities that are available to students. Because it is a liberal arts school, all of the departments are phenomenal and it really allowed me to look around and see what really interested me.”

Alex Taylor ’11Hometown: Glens Falls, N.Y.High school: Glens Falls High SchoolMajor: MusicVoice: Tenor IIPost-grad: “I’ve been working at Moosilauke Ravine Lodge this fall, and during the winter I’ll be traveling and working on organic farms in New Zealand with the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms program.”Extracurriculars: Men’s ultimate frisbee team, Dartmouth Outing Club First-Year Trips leader, Vox Croo, Vox Croo Chief, Casque & Gauntlet senior society; Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternityOther singing/performing jobs: “Saxophone and vocal performances at weddings, for various on-campus events with a jazz band, senior recital with Brian Bozzello in 2010 and for myself in 2011.”Why I chose Dartmouth: “I loved the small, liberal arts feel, the emphasis on community, the vibrancy of the campus and students, the proximity to outdoors adventures, and the saxophone/jazz professors in the music department. It was one of those things that just felt right when I first walked onto the campus.”

Ethan Weinberg ’12Hometown: Upper Saddle River, N.J.High school: Northern Highlands Regional High SchoolMajor: Government, minor in environmental studiesVoice: Tenor, usually tenor IIUndergraduate research: Studied genocide and Holocaust labeling with Government Professor Benjamin ValentinoExtracurriculars: Work in the Admissions Office; Rockefeller Center for Public Policy Leadership Fellow; OUTreach peer mentor; Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity; finalist in the 2011 Dartmouth Idol competitionWhy I chose Dartmouth: “I’m at Dartmouth because I was struck by how every student was so passionate about a specific subject or project, yet the range of passions and interests showed such a breadth of interests and diversity that truly make Dartmouth a special place. It feels like a community, not just a college.”

— By Bonnie Barber and Jessica Chen ’12

Office of Communications