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By Matthew Ianno There is an unavoidable aura of prestige that surrounds the mention of Yale University. The Ivy League school, founded in 1701, is the third oldest institution of higher education in the country. Five U.S. presidents attended Yale, as well as a lengthy list of political pundits, activists, writers, athletes and actors. Raphael Odell Shapiro may not be a part of this list just yet, but he has already made a name for himself on campus. The Sag Harbor native is heading into his junior year at Yale and is also entering his third and final year as a member of the renowned undergraduate a cappella group The Duke’s Men of Yale, who have performed internationally, won competitions and recorded albums since the group’s advent in 1952. There have been approximately 350 members of the group throughout its history, and Shapiro is glad to be one of them. “What I like about the Duke’s is we do all types of genres; from a cappella and jazz to recent billboard hits,” Shapiro told me. Shapiro grew up singing and performing in musicals, but did not foresee joining The Duke’s until he saw them perform at his freshman orientation dinner. “There are 16 underclassmen a cappella groups and two senior groups at Yale,” Shapiro said. “I only tried out for one, which is rare. Usually people try out for more than one.” Trying out turned out to be a lot more involved and difficult than Shapiro imagined. “It was a three-week audition process. It was a crazy couple of weeks and it got really competitive,” said Shapiro, who is one of 13 members. He recently performed with the group at the Bay Street Theater and at Christ Episcopal Church, both in Sag Harbor. This is the group’s third summer in a row performing in Sag Harbor. “They come back to see me in the group. That’s what’s nice about being a part of a small community,” said Shapiro, who has traveled around the world with The Duke’s. “It was really cool to perform at the Lincoln Center in front of 700-800 people...also, we went to Peru as a group and sang at the top of Machu Picchu.” Shapiro currently majors in American Studies at Yale and he views the group as an extracurricular activity, not a career choice. But spoke at length about how blessed he is to be a part of the group. “As a singer, I have improved so much over the past few years. To have that regimen is really amazing,” Shapiro said. That regimen consists of six hours of rehearsal per week, making this extracurricular activity one that swallows a majority of his free time, joyously.

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Dan's Papers Aug. 27, 2010  

Dan's Papers, the 51-year-old bible of the Hamptons, is owned by Manhattan Media, a multi-media publishing company based in New York City,...

Dan's Papers Aug. 27, 2010  

Dan's Papers, the 51-year-old bible of the Hamptons, is owned by Manhattan Media, a multi-media publishing company based in New York City,...

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