HomeThe Grains of Time

School or Affiliation: North Carolina State
Raleigh, NC

The Grains of Time

More than 30 years ago, a small voice and guitar war protest band named the Statesmen began playing together at NC State University. One year later in 1969, the group switched their name, and since then the group has been known as the Grains of Time. In the 1980’s, the group was revitalized by Professor Milton Bliss as an elite vocal octet chosen from the Varsity Men’s Glee club, singing everything from barbershop and classical to pop and country. In recent years, an element of vocal percussion has been added and other changes have been made to their arrangements to swing the sound and style of their a cappella music away from their barbershop and glee club roots to mature in the genre of professional a cappella. Today, the group offers live performances, on or off mic, that focus on entertainment but are always grounded in musical excellence. Though officially styled as NC State University’s premier men’s a cappella group, to their loyal fans, they are known simply as “the Grains.”

Throughout their history, the Grains have released 13 albums, and under the direction of former president and business manager Mark Hines, the group went on three international tours. Also, during the 2003 Finals of the International Championship of Collegiate a Cappella, Mark Hines won Best Arrangement for his version of “Homeward Bound,” an old Irish folk tune.

The members of the Grains of Time are now drawn exclusively from the NCSU Choral Ensembles, which are freshly under the direction of Dr. Alfred Sturgis since the departure of Dr. Randy Meder to the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay. Dr. Sturgis also serves as the faculty advisor for the Grains. Though the Grains are assisted by a faculty advisor and maintain a friendly relationship with the Music Department at NC State, they practice, perform, and manage themselves without assistance from outside agents, managers, or directors. The group’s current form is a septet comprised of two basses, two baritones, and three tenors who have received instruction in master classes with professional a cappella groups Chapter 6 and Hook-Slide.

The Grains perform at a wide variety of concerts each semester, ranging from informal gatherings at dormitories and private parties to large concerts at such venues as N.C. State’s Stewart Theater and the BTI Center’s A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater. The Grains perform twice annually during commencement, and traditionally hold an on-campus concert each semester with guest performances.


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