The 5C a cappella group After School
Specials (ASS) were only hoping to host and emcee this year’s International Championship
of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA) semifinals taking place this Saturday, April 4,
at Pomona College’s Bridges Auditorium. When they entered the quarterfinal
round in Arizona, they did not expect the outcome that followed: They advanced to the semifinal round themselves.
ICCA competition is divided into seven regions. Each region holds multiple quarterfinal events, and the top two groups from each quarterfinal round move on to the semifinals. The winner of each region’s semifinal then advances to the finals to compete against the other six finalist groups in New York City.
This year, the ICCA West semifinal competition features colleges and universities from
California, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Washington.
“We’re the first group to compete from the Claremont Colleges
since 2009,” ASS Music Director Daniel Choi PO ’15 said.
“They usually only host ICCA events at the schools with a cappella groups that
compete regularly. When we won the quarterfinals, we were really put back on
the a cappella map.”
Acting as hosts and emcees for the ICAA typically involves performing during
breaks with the other a cappella groups, but ASS will not do so since it is competing.
“We are so excited to be hosting the incredible groups
that are coming,” ASS President Sarah Ridge SC ’15 said.
“These groups truly are the best collegiate a cappella groups in the Western
“When people hear that the ICCA semifinals are here in
Claremont, I think it gives them more interest and more appreciation,” Choi said.
Thanks to movies and TV shows such as Pitch Perfect and Glee, a cappella has grown in popularity over recent years. In the spirit of the genre, groups typically aim to keep their organizations accessible and fun.
“Even though it’s a competition and everyone wants to do well, a
cappella is like a club: Everyone has a membership regardless of ability,” said Jake
Yoakum, the music director of 15 Miles West, an a cappella group from
Western Oregon University that will be competing this Saturday.
Many a cappella groups enjoy unique traditions. Take, for example, Mt. San Antonio College’s group Fermata Nowhere, who will also be competing this Saturday. The group covers songs, turns them into parodies, and wears red jumpsuits.
“The experience is so much fun for us all that performing feels
just like we’re having a party on stage,” said Taylor Hurst, Fermata Nowhere’s student director. “No matter what the outcome is, we all
have fun and grow as performers. The interesting thing about us is that each member of our group
brings a unique facet to the ensemble. We are all very diverse with different
backgrounds, yet we all join together to make music and entertain. We’re more
than just singers, we’re a brotherhood.”
To the excitement of many a cappella enthusiasts, the group that launched the film Pitch Perfect, the University of California, Los Angeles Scattertones, will be performing in Bridges this weekend. The group was formed just 12 years ago and has performed consistently well in
competitions throughout the country. The group was flown out to Alaska to
open for Pentatonix this past year.
“Pentatonix is the name in a cappella today, so to have the
opportunity to open for a group like that is pretty crazy,” Scattertones President Rishi Menon said.
Despite all of their successes, Menon insists that the
Scattertones truly are “ordinary.”
really are just a bunch of college kids who like making music and singing a
cappella,” he said. “We made a name for ourselves without really trying to. We just love
performing. It’s something we all take seriously and it’s pretty much all we
can talk about. We’re all just having a good time.”
Tickets for the West ICCA semifinals are available at the Bridges box office and online at vendini.com.