Comments: Did Raniere have hidden agenda with ‘A Cappella Innovations”?

This 2008 thread shows a concern among some members the a cappella community in Albany area about the funding of performances by Bronfman/Raniere.

Maybe they were being paranoid but some of the comments are revealing,

The entire thread is available here

A Cappella Innovations

Postby Innovations Participants » Sat Apr 05, 2008 11:25 pm

I am a member of a collegiate a cappella group. We’re in Albany, at A Cappella Innovations. This is the second semester that this festival has been held. Before you read the rest of our post, we’d like you to read the following articles:

Keith Raniere, who you’ve just read about, founded A Cappella Innovations last year. When we attended the first festival in the fall of 2007, it was a productive experience, which is why we decided to return this spring after being invited back. We immediately noticed several changes in format:

– A program with extensive references to Keith Raniere’s “patent-pending technology”, Rational Inquiry. The connection between this endeavor and a cappella music was not established.
– Numerous insistent requests for our personal information, including e-mail and home addresses, as well as Social Security numbers.
– Questionnaires encouraging us to consider the “Emotional Journeys” of each of our songs, rather than musical sections on which we wanted criticism.
– Workshops being moderated by employees of Mr. Raniere with tenuous ties to a cappella music. While the a cappella groups gave each other constructive, musically-oriented criticism, the moderators repeatedly attempted to steer our conversations to more existential topics, confusing some of us and unnerving others.
– Constant surveillance, including intrusive photography and video recording, even during ‘down time’, when we and the other groups present were simply talking between ourselves.
– An after-party sponsored by Mr. Raniere and promoting an entirely unrelated “social network” fronted by Allison Mack and Nicki Clyne, actresses who also have no clear ties to a cappella music.

The entire atmosphere was drastically different than that of the first festival, and our group, as well as every other group with which we discussed these concerns, feels very unsettled. Mr. Raniere and members of the a cappella group he founded, Simply Human, have posted on this board in the past. We welcome their response to this post, considering the numerous questions that remain unanswered. Events that celebrate a cappella music should obviously be encouraged, but we feel that the motives of Mr. Raniere and his constituents were not and have not been candidly presented. Our only reason for presenting this information is to encourage other a cappella groups to think about the intentions of this organization before committing themselves to something they may not be prepared for.


 Postby AMalkoff » Sun Apr 06, 2008 1:48 pm

This whole thing leaves a VERY bad taste in my mouth. Any one of the things that the poster mentioned should raise red flags, let alone all of them together. I understand that an organization with pockets deep enough to hire some of the best groups around is alluring (especially when most events like this are run on a shoestring), but we should think very carefully about getting collectively and individually involved in something like this.

I haven’t been to these events, but doing the reading sure does make this man and his organization seem insidious, if not outright dangerous (at least one person’s suicide has now been attributed to them).

I spoke to a knowledgeable friend earlier about this and he’d read something elsewhere about how this organization has been known to silence and/or trail individuals who questioned them. I’m not really concerned for myself, but I do think this is worth taking a MUCH closer look at, and not ignoring the red flags because they seem to be supportive of a cappella, and they have financial backing.

If you don’t want to bother reading the articles (which you really should), here’s an interesting distillation from the Forbes article:

John Hochman, a forensic psychiatrist who teaches at UCLA, who pored over the Executive Success manual and describes it thusly: “It is a kingdom of sorts, ruled by a Vanguard, who writes his own dictionary of the English language, has his own moral code and the ability to generate taxes on subjects by having them participate in his seminars. It is a kingdom with no physical borders, but with psychological borders–influencing how his subjects spend their time, socialize, and think.”


Postby dherriges » Sun Apr 06, 2008 4:20 pm

After the extensive discussion here about these issues before the first summit occurred, I can’t say I’m surprised by this turn of events. Don’t want to say it’s an “I told you so” vindication for the people who were skeptical the first time around… the fact is, wacko cult involvement or not, the first A Cappella Innovations sounds like it was a very positive experience for those who attended. But this now all seems very typical of a cult-like organization or scam – appear completely innocuous just long enough to hook people, then show your true colors.

At least it sounds like everybody attending the summit this time is on to what’s going on, and they’re talking to each other about it, so hopefully nobody gets caught up in something they shouldn’t.


Postby sparkleytone » Sun Apr 06, 2008 4:37 pm

I think we can all wait until the festivities are over and groups have returned to start passing judgements. Until then, let’s take this with as big a grain of salt as anyone else who creates an account to post something controversial.

Postby sparkleytone » Sun Apr 06, 2008 4:37 pm

I think we can all wait until the festivities are over and groups have returned to start passing judgements. Until then, let’s take this with as big a grain of salt as anyone else who creates an account to post something controversial…..
and etc…

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