F&M Stories

'97 Alum Reconnects with A Cappella Roots

By the time they graduate, many Franklin & Marshall College students have a favorite place on campus. For music producer Ed Chung '97, room B-11 in the Steinman College Center meant so much to him that he named his business after it.

Chung, who majored in music, spent countless hours rehearsing in B-11 with The Poor Richards, F&M's oldest a cappella group. He now owns the production company B-11 Entertainment and recently returned to campus to produce an album with current students.

Over three days in April, Chung recorded each member of The Poor Richards singing their part for various songs, creating tracks to combine in post-production.

Chung, who is a member of the professional a cappella group Duwendé, said this approach can be challenging for singers used to performing together.

"You're by yourself you have to perform your part with nothing. It's a very unnatural way to do it," he said.

But he believes recording singers individually gives producers more freedom.

"I can tweak certain notes and create a robust version of the group that still reflects what they actually sound like," Chung said.

Chung emphasized the effort The Poor Richards had put in to prepare for the recording process: "They do all the arrangements and all the work of practicing and performing the songs, and then I just get to come in and hit record."

Chung grew up playing instruments and studying music, but said it felt very "academic" to him until he joined an a cappella group in high school. There, he found joy, creative expression and community.

"I fell in love with the camaraderie of being in a singing group in particular," he said.

During his first year at F&M, Chung didn't discover The Poor Richards until after auditions had ended. Determined to be involved, he reached out to the group and learned they were looking for another bass, his vocal part at the time.

Chung was a member of The Poor Richards during all four years at F&M, and met his wife, Abbey Janes '00, through the group.

Chung's family had encouraged him to study medicine, and while he knew he wanted to pursue a creative career, he also explored pre-med courses to keep his options open.

"I wanted to finish the pre-med curriculum to prove to everyone that I had thought this through — I didn't just come to college and decide that organic chemistry was too hard," he said.

After graduating, Chung decided to pursue music full-time and founded B-11 Entertainment in 2002. The company does audio production and design for a variety of projects, including video games and commercials, with a particular focus on vocalists and a cappella groups.

Chung recorded The Poor Richards several times between 2005 and 2010, but raising a young family made frequent travel from New York City to Lancaster difficult. He handed the project over to an intern for a time, then eventually lost contact with the group.

"I lost touch and kind of got disconnected for a bit," he said.

Then, in January 2023, F&M rising senior Liz Joslin reached out to Chung. Joslin asked if he still recorded student a cappella groups and if he would be interested in working with The Poor Richards.

Chung was eager to reconnect.

"I didn't know what [The Poor Richards] were up to, I didn't know what songs they performed. So this was a good chance for me to do it again and reconnect with the group that literally gave me everything," he said. "And here we are, working on another series of songs."

Alumni Spotlight

“I fell in love with the camaraderie of being in a singing group.”

— Ed Chung ’07
 

Related Articles

May 29, 2024

Student Startup Promotes Responsible AI Use

A recent F&M graduate and a current student hope to harness the power of artificial intelligence to help students learn.

May 13, 2024

Class of 2024 Turns Tassels

A pandemic enveloped their earliest days of college in uncertainty. Four years later, members of the Class of 2024 have emerged as leaders and scholars.

May 12, 2024

Lux et Lex Walk Marks Milestone for Class of 2024

On the eve of Commencement, Franklin & Marshall’s graduating class took one final look at campus together during the Lux et Lex Walk.