A CAPPELA TROUPE: THE PRO BONOTES
Their weekly sessions provide group therapy and individual expression, frivolous fun and scintillating sound. The Pro Bonotes, Berkeley Law’s a capella troupe, are fast becoming an in-house sensation.
“I always come away from rehearsal feeling happier and lighter,” says Gillian Miller ’20. “Even if I was stressed and overwhelmed beforehand.”
Formed in fall 2016, The Pro Bonotes give a schoolwide concert each semester and perform for gatherings of admitted students, 1Ls, teaching assistants, and others. Their repertoire has grown—along with their crowds.
For several members, choir or musical theater had been a regular part of life before law school. When they enrolled at Berkeley, there was a sudden, palpable hole.
“The Pro Bonotes are a way of not just filling that void, but embracing a capella,” Daina Goldenberg ’20 says. “It gave me a new kind of musical fulfillment, and introduced me to some of the most welcoming new friends.”
Last spring, the group wrote and performed its first musical parody, “Unwritten, feat. Briefs.” The lyrics focus on the difficulty of writing a brief, and whether grand jury records in a certain case should be released.
The choice of songs is a democratic brainstorm, with selections ranging from Katy Perry to Eve 6 to Ben E. King.
A co-director this year, Goldenberg helps lead the warmup sessions that help quickly shed any worries of job interviews, moot court arguments, or journal deadlines.
“Warmup is so important,” she says. “It sounds and looks silly, but it’s how we shake off the day and get ready to make beautiful music.”
For Chris Brown ’19, singing with the group is “an amazing experience.”
“Having a fun, non-academic thing to rely on during your free time, especially in a stressful environment, is essential,” he adds.
While a capella is a new form of musical expression for many Pro Bonotes, wading into the unknown has been freeing and empowering.
“There’s something about making funny and weird noises together that really makes people grow on you,” says Rich Vyas ’19. “What I really like about this group is that because we’re relatively small, every single member is essential to making the song sound good. Goose-bumpy stuff we create. Goose-bumpy.”