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Harvard Krokodiloes sing to benefit NYC’s HOPE Program

Harvard’s Oldest a Cappella Group Entertains at Brooklyn Heights Casino

January 10, 2017 By Andy Katz Special to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Members of the Krokodiloes pose with supporters of the HOPE Program and Chief Development Officer Irene Branche (back row, third from right) and former HOPE Program board member Dick Moore (back row, second from right). Eagle photo by Andy Katz
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Harvard’s venerable and talented Krokodiloes a cappella singing group put their motto “nunc est cantandum,” or “now is the time to sing,” to work during a recent benefit for The HOPE Program in the Brooklyn Heights Casino.

Supporters of the job training nonprofit gathered first in the casino’s basement squash court — which is renowned for superb acoustics — stood against the rail overlooking the pale wood court and the dozen tuxedo-clad young men as they covered show tunes, classics from the Great American Song Book and finally closed with an exquisite rendition of The Turtles’ “Happy Together.”

The Harvard Krokodiloes formed in 1946 when a group of Hasty Pudding Club members began singing together in four-part harmonies. The group today consists of 12 young men (for the first time, a woman auditioned in 2016 and was invited for a callback but was not selected) who perform songs drawn mainly from the canonical Great American Songbook but also, as one member pointed out, “a songbook plus…” that includes more contemporary numbers. Kroks have performed at Carnegie Hall and venues all over the world.

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After a brief respite for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, the Krokodiloes regrouped in the casino’s drawing room for a concert that included their signature piece “Johnny O’Connor.”

The HOPE Program is a nonprofit organization devoted to helping clients prepare for and maintain good jobs in both the public and private sectors. Counseling and training sessions focus on whatever past problems might have held the student back, such as addiction, a criminal record or homelessness.

“We start and end classes throughout the year,” explained Chief Development Officer Irene Branche. “Between Brooklyn and the Bronx we have 17 classes running concurrently. Clients come to us saying, ‘We’re ready to work!’ so we don’t want to make them wait six months for a new class to start.”

Current HOPE Program partners include Reddit, Murray’s, Brooklyn Seltzer, Lic Lak Chocolates and Brooklyn Community Access. According the program’s website, 74 percent of HOPE graduates obtain jobs, 78 percent of which are full-time.

 


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