Group spotlight on Dartmouth’s Christian a cappella group X.ado

by Holly Sung | 10/17/17 12:00am

Dartmouth’s Christian a cappella group X.ado celebrated its 25th anniversary during Homecoming, welcoming alumni of the group in a performance at Rollins Chapel on Saturday night. Following the performance, the group and audience members enjoyed an evening of unstructured worship, an event demonstrative of X.ado’s group personality and mission. Founded in 1992, X.ado differentiates itself from other campus performance groups both in its philosophy and its approach to rehearsing and performing. While a love of music unites the group members, music isn’t the only thing that draws them together; the members’ faith and strong sense of purpose unites X.ado under a common identity.

“I feel like X.ado is by nature different from the other groups on campus,” Elisabeth Pillsbury ’18, the Outreach Pitch of the group, said. “We’re not just a performance group, but we are also a ministry. It’s a big component of who we are.”

This impacts the group’s audition process, according to Pillsbury.

“We are selecting from a smaller pool from the beginning — [members]need to be talented musicians but also have to be on track with our mission,” she said. “So our group tends to be smaller, but in the end, all the people in the group are excited to be there.” 

The group’s unique closeness is perhaps best demonstrated by the weekly “x-hour,” separate from and in addition to its normal rehearsal schedule. However, this is not the same period that Dartmouth students know so well. Instead, this is a time for X.ado members to come together in spiritual reflection as a group.

“The nature of our shows are also different,” Fred Kim ’17, a recent X.ado alumnus, said. “I feel like what sets X.ado apart is our purpose; every song and every show we have are selected and designed carefully with purpose. Each time, the purpose is different, but the main theme is to spread God’s love.” 

In addition to this common purpose, X.ado’s deep history contributes to the community of the group. Approximately 20 group alumni visited for Homecoming, ranging in year from ’17s to ’06s. The Homecoming performance, which group alumnus and event emcee Daniel Fang ’15 said X.ado began planning in March, was a meaningful way to celebrate X.ado’s history and share current and former members’ love for the group.

“Emceeing for the event, I was able to really appreciate X.ado and what it meant for each of us,” Fang said. “It’s a beautiful family that God has brought together for an amazing and powerful purpose. We spent the whole afternoon on Saturday just street singing together; we brought back a lot of the X.ado classics, and it was magical how we were all able to just come together as a group despite the age gaps.”  

Although the event was on Saturday, current members and alumni were able to spend quality time together throughout the weekend, ending their weekend with a gathering for brunch on Sunday. 

“It was like coming home,” Kim said. “I remember we would have rehearsals three times a week, and no matter what happened in my college life, either academic or social, every time I went to the X.ado rehearsal I felt like I was brought back home. The group rounded me and I received a lot of love, and it was amazing to come back as an alum.” 

Fang ended the reunion weekend with high hopes for the next 25 years of the group.

“This anniversary event was an opportunity for us to dig back into what X.ado is,” Fang said. “Hopefully we will catapult ourselves into the next 25 years with the same sense of family and purpose and passion.”

Fang also expressed excitement for X.ado’s future growth, mentioning that the group went on its first international tour in Seoul, South Korea last winter. 

As a senior, Pillsbury said that the weekend allowed her to reflect on her thankfulness for the X.ado “family” over the past three years.

“It’s a special connection and family that I feel grateful for, especially after this weekend,” Pillsbury said. “A lot of our ’17s joined us for the concert and in the end the alumni joined us to sing as well, and it was amazing.” 

As a recent alumnus, Kim was pleased to see that the group continued to thrive despite the departure of its most recent graduates.

“I was glad to see that the group survived without the 17s,” Kim said. “That assured me that the group would keep living on.”